Archive for the ‘Chefs’

EATING LAS VEGAS – The 50 Essential Restaurants – 48. ZEN JAPANESE CURRY

October 27, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Chefs, EATING LAS VEGAS - The 50 Essential Restaurants, Food, Reviews, Spring Mountain Road 3 Comments →


It’s tasty.

It’s fresh.

It’s unique.

It’s inexpensive.

It’s chef-owned.

That chef is always at the stoves.

It’s good.

It’s good for you.

It’s as vegetarian or meat-centric as you want it to be.

It’s as spicy or tame as you desire.

It’s clean.

It’s charming.

It’s intimate.

It’s open all the time, i.e. throughout the day.

The service is unfailingly sweet and efficient.

It’s got food that isn’t fancy.

In fact, a lot of it looks like this:

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Or this:


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And sometimes you combine them to have this:

Shrimp with Original Curry

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…or add some tasty condiments:

Pickled radish and garlic

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…to make your tasty plate look like this:

Pork Katsu with condiment toppings

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And if all you want is the world’s most perfectly fried chicken (and who doesn’t love fried chicken?), you can always order this:

Chicken croquette

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As you can see, this food isn’t complicated and it isn’t expensive.

It’s what ELV calls deceptively simple cuisine — food that exists both technically and metaphorically on a different level — like Japanese food in general.

And get this: Takaya-san gets it right every time. We have eaten here A dozen times since it opened and have never ceased to be blown away by the precision and perfection behind every bite. (Those who don’t consider deep-frying an art will get an education with one bite of any of the above-pictured proteins.)

It also happens to be very good for you. (As much as ELV loves Savoy and Gagnaire and Robuchon and Carnevino and Spago, he can’t say with a straight face that he always feels healthier when he walks out of them.)

But when he walks out of The Best Restaurant in Town, he always feels like he’s done something nice for his body, mind and soul.

And did we mention that the chef is always there, cooking his superb recipes, and that those spice-infused concoctions have health-giving properties, and that those spice, herb and vegetable-rich dishes he makes top out at around $12.50?

Add all that up and you have a most excellent eatery and one that puts to shame many a high-flying “concept” restaurant, i.e. places conceived by consultants and run by accountants, e.g., Tivoli Village and every friggin’ spot opening downtown or having opened on the Strip in the past four years.

Some might kvetch that the drink menu is limited (a few good Japanese beers, a couple of middle-brow sakes), and that there’s no dessert to speak of (mochi, coffee jello), but when Snowflake Shavery is right next door, and Sweets Raku is right across the parking lot, there’s no need for such caloric caterwauling.

Besides, when you consider the money and calories you save, you should give the staff a major “domo arigato” for keeping your temptations to a minimum.

Don’t worry if your Japanese isn’t perfect, because everything else about this place is.

Favorite dishes: Spinach Curry; Chicken Katsu Curry; Beef Curry; Vegetable Curry; Kushi Curry; Anything with curry on the menu; Katsu-Don; Chicken Croquette; Pork Katsu; Dee-Fried Shrimp.


5020 Spring Mountain Road


Life Is Beautiful on Channel 3 with DUE FORNI

October 24, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Chefs, Events, Food, Wake Up With the Wagners 2 Comments →

EATING LAS VEGAS – The 50 Essential Restaurants – 47. DESNUDO TACOS

October 22, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Chefs, EATING LAS VEGAS - The 50 Essential Restaurants, Food, Reviews 2 Comments →

ELV note: Unbekownst to us, 2 hours before we posted this today, Desnudo Tacos announced on its Facebook page that it would be shuttering operations at the end of this week due to a lease dispute. As much as it saddens us to hear this, we ‘ll stick by our pick of it as an “essential” Las Vegas restaurant (yes, the food is that good), and keep on the lookout for the new location — which we are confident will happen soon.


EATING LAS VEGAS – The 50 Essential Restaurants – 46. “The New” EL SOMBRERO

October 20, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Chefs, Downtown, EATING LAS VEGAS - The 50 Essential Restaurants, Openings, Reviews 1 Comment →


The old El Sombrero was Las Vegas’s oldest restaurant. It opened its doors for the first time in 1950, and was considered time-worn and venerable when, in 1970, Teresa and José Aragon took over and started cooking their unique brand of Mexican-meets-New Mexican food. After a 44 year run, the Aragons retired in April and sold the joint to Irma Aguirre. It reopened in August, and what she and Executive Chef Oscar Sanchez have done to the 43 seat space is nothing short of amazing.


Letter of the Week – WTF with “Fully Booked”?

October 18, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Chefs, Letter of the Week 11 Comments →!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_635/weiner1n-1-web.jpg

David knows his Weiners

ELV note: One of our favorite paisans – David Greco – who owns and runs Mike’s Deli on Arthur Avenue in da Bronx, was in Vegas recently, and filed this report (the kind we at ELV love to get from our favorite foodies) on some of his experiences. He also ends his mini-reviews with a question that often bugs us as well as our staff

Dear ELV,

Having a craving for fancy French during my recent visit, I wound up at Twist. I dare say I was disappointed. Dreadfully boring room. OK sure, maybe great place to impress a hot brunette, but service was spotty. For example, no one removed the dirty plates from the entree course until the dessert course arrived.


EATING LAS VEGAS – The 50 Essential Restaurants – 45. KU NOODLE

October 16, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Chefs, EATING LAS VEGAS - The 50 Essential Restaurants, Food, Openings, Reviews No Comments →


Chinese restaurants in Las Vegas come in two sizes: on-the-Strip and overpriced, and off-the-Strip and down and dirty. The holes in the walls are stuck into seedy shopping centers up and down Spring Mountain Road. They are generally excellent, but also, due to their being the genuine article, off-putting to most round eyes. Strip Chinese joints usually charge double for dishes remarkably similar to ones you get a mile to the west, but at least you’re not afraid to look into the corners, and the ingredients are usually better.


Welcome Back: Chefs to the Max

October 12, 2014 By: mitchell Category: Chefs, Critics, Events, Max Jacobson 2 Comments →

Max and Kerry Simon, chewing the fat

Max and Kerry Simon, chewing the fat

Special to Eating Las Vegas by Mitchell Wilburn:

The week before last marked a homecoming of great celebration for a missing face in the food community.  Max Jacobson is back in town, surely appreciative of the massive support he’s gotten from so many chefs, friends, and fans.  This most recent “Chefs to the Max” event took place at Carson Kitchen, the Kerry Simon spot downtown known for turning the tide in the Downtown food scene towards the hip.


Finally, a Food Film Festival Featuring Fabulous Folks Festively Feasting Freely on Fiction

October 10, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Chefs, Critics, Events, Food, Liquor/Liqueur/Libations 3 Comments →


The only thing I love more than great food is a movie about great food.

This Friday night you are welcome to share my passion for the finest in food fantasia at the first, fabulous foray into his fount of feedbag film fare fodder.

Or something like that.

Finally….it’s all FREE….in the cozy little Black Box theatre, with the purchase of a cocktail at the exquisite Scullery bar.

See you tonight, fellow food film fans.

EATING LAS VEGAS – The 50 Essential Restaurants – 42. NAKAMURA-YA

October 09, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Chefs, EATING LAS VEGAS - The 50 Essential Restaurants, Food, Reviews, Spring Mountain Road 2 Comments →


ELV’s comely young assistant was hungry.

“I’m hungry,” she said.

“Let’s go to Nakamura-Ya,” we said.

“But I don’t know anything about wafuu pasuta,” she responded.


EATING LAS VEGAS – The 50 Essential Restaurants – 40. B&B RISTORANTE

October 08, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Celebrity Chef Hell, Chefs, Critics, EATING LAS VEGAS - The 50 Essential Restaurants, Food, Max Jacobson, Reviews Comments Off


Mario Batali simplified Babbo’s menu when he and partner Joe Bastianich brought B&B to the Venetian six years ago. They slightly modified the format to best comport with the middlebrow tastes of the average Vegas conventioneer, rather than challenge the pasta hounds as they do every night  their flagship in Greenwich Village. The good news is the bold flavors that put that flagship on the map made it out here without losing much in the process, and this kitchen still manages to crank out Vegas’s most interesting pastas half a decade later.