Archive for the ‘Food’

You Should Go To YUSHO

April 21, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Chefs, Food, Openings 5 Comments →

Matthias Merges Makes Merry Mixology

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Draught Cocktail Degustation

Bold, compelling, uncompromising, intense, and one-of-a-kind were just a few of the phrases that leapt to mind as we sampled about 40% of Yusho’s menu last week — and all six of the house-made, draught cocktails pictured above.

“Totally unlike anything the Strip has seen since China Poblano opened in 2010,” was the other.

To say that we were impressed is an understatement. To say we weren’t expecting to be would be equally accurate.

“Who is this ‘Matthias ‘Muttonchops’ Merges‘ anyway?” was our only thought as we wended our way through the fanny-packed environs of the Monte Carlo Hotel and Casino. “And who is he to think he’s gonna convince anyone to go to this godforsaken corner of the Strip to eat Japanese street food?”

Turns out, Merges knew us and we knew Merges. Turns out. Matthias was one of the operatives behind Charlie Trotter’s Restaurant Charlie, when it opened way back in 2008. You remember Restaurant Charlie don’t you? (For a brief two years, it had some of the finest food (and drinks, and desserts) Las Vegas has ever seen. Turns out Merges was one of Trotter’s honchos responsible for the quality-control, innovation, and drop-your-fork deliciousness that made Charlie so famous.

Fourteen years with the owl-eyed one taught MM a thing or three — one of which is to pack a punch with what you serve, and don’t hold back on seasonings. Those who think modern cuisine (by which we mean “world cuisine” by which we mean “anything goes” cuisine) tends to be undersalted and tepid versions of food cooked better elsewhere, will have nothing to complain about.

Take the Logan “poser” ramen. Ramen hounds love to dissect the intricacies and authenticities  of the various broths, consommés and legends surrounding the particularities of their favorite noodle soup. But Merges is a cat of a different stripe. He named the dish to reference its birth (Logan Square in Chicago) and to gently mock itself for being so unfaithful to any of them. Instead of making a hash of it, though, this “kitchen sink” approach (deep fried, shredded pork roll, nori, hen egg and cucumber) becomes a masterpiece of umami:

Logan Poser Ramen

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It takes only a few bites to realize you’re in a whole new world of flavors and food combinations — the likes of which our restaurant scene hasn’t experienced in half a decade. Whether it’s the fall-off-the-bone, red miso and sesame-coated chicken “drummies” or a piquant grilled octopus and haricot vert salad:

Grilled octopus/haricot vert salad

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….your palate will sit up and take notice.

We could itemize each lip-smacking bite of everything we tried — from the caramelized kimchee to the assorted pickles:

In a pickle?

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…to the crispy fried oyster (that could teach a number of chefs we know a thing or two about how to fry one) — but the menu is manageable enough (only about 25 items) to make its circumnavigation easy. Merges’ theory being: keep it simple and make everything simply excellent — another long overdue idea in a town swamped with mediocrity.

There is nothing average or humdrum about Yusho’s coffee and Fernet Branca caramel ice cream either:

Coffee Fernet Branca ice cream

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Like the restaurant and Merges, it is sui generis, head-scratching and game-changing all at the same time. This is a significant restaurant. Ignore the unlikely (and inconvenient) location, and taste for yourself.

And be prepared to drop your chopsticks in appreciation.

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ELV’s dinner for two (with a bevy of comped cocktails) came to $97 + $30 tip.


In the Monte Carlo Hotel and Casino

3770 Las Vegas Blvd. South

Las Vegas, NV 89109


In the News: EL SOMBRERO Closes, WILD Gets Tamed

April 14, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Chefs, Food, Wake 2 Comments →

After a 64 year run, Las Vegas’s oldest restaurant has closed its doors for good. José and Teresa Aragon (who took the business over from Jose’s uncle, Clemente Griego, in 1970), have fried their last sopaipilla and ladled their last batch of  sweet and smokey salsa.


SUZUYA PASTRIES Featured on My News 3

April 11, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Chefs, Food, Wake Up With the Wagners No Comments →

More Hidden Gems

(Hard to find but worth it!)

1.    SUZUYA PASTRIES & CREPES – 7225 South Durango Dr.

2.    I-NABA – 3210 South Decatur Blvd.

3.    YUNNAN GARDEN – 3934 Schiff Dr.

4.    SHOKU RAMEN-YA – 470 East Windmill Ln.


April 07, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Chefs, Food, Openings, Reviews, Spring Mountain Road 11 Comments →

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Lobster pho photo by Sam Morris

Eating Las Vegas has often wondered whether Vietnamese food in America is the ultimate revenge for that little dust-up we caused there in the 60s. They could never hope to outgun us, the thinking goes, so the expats figured they’d bore us to death with their cuisine.


Up Yours Henderson (kidding) on My News 3

April 06, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Food, Openings, Wake Up With the Wagners Comments Off


(Hard to find but worth it!)

The Blind Pig - 4515 Dean Martin Dr.

Chef Flemming’s Bake Shop – 7 South Water Street, Henderson

Fat Choy – Inside the Eureka Casino, 595 East Sahara Ave.

Rock ‘N’ Noodle – 1108 South 3rd Street

Secret Pizza – Inside The Cosmopolitan

Eric L’huillier Needs to Stay in Vegas

April 04, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Chefs, Food 1 Comment →

We’ve just had our 3rd outstanding meal in less than a year at Pinot Brasserie – Las Vegas’s most underrated restaurant.

Over the past year or so, we’ve taken to calling PB an under-appreciated jewel in our crown of restaurant gems, and nothing we’ve tasted lately has dissuaded us from trumpeting the excellence of the cooking on display here.

We also know this Joachim Spichal mainstay is not long for the Vegas restaurant world. (Sources have been telling us for months that the Venetian has tried to buy out Splichal’s lease, but he’s not budging until it expires sometime in the next year.)

Be that as it may, the Executive Chef at PB — Eric L’huillier – the man who has churned out precise and drop-your-fork-delicious versions of French bistro food here for the past seven years — is soon to be out of a job through no fault of his own. (ELV feels L’huillier’s pain, as he has been out-0f-a-job many times in his life, although always through some fault of his own.)

Eating Las Vegas thinks L’huillier (pronounced Loo-WEE-lee-ay) would be a perfect fit at a place like Tableau in the Wynn or Marche Bacchus – places in need of some real talent (and stability) in the kitchen.

Of course, they’d have to pay him a boatload of money.

But he would be worth it.

Because the man knows French cooking like I know alimony.


In the Venetian Hotel and Casino

3355 Las Vegas Blvd. South

Las Vegas, NV 89109



March 31, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Critics, Food, Zines 7 Comments →

ELV note: This article is from the current edition of John Mariani’s Virtual Gourmet and originally appeared on We re-publish it here on the slim chance that a few of our loyal readers do not already subscribe to Mariani’s essential Web publication. Read away in either format and prepare to get hungry.

It’s been a bad month for bad pizza. First, Sbarro announced the closing of 155 of its 400 U.S. stores, then declared bankruptcy. Again.  Then, in one of the few conservative judicial decisions I actually applaud, Justice Antonin Scalia, born in Trenton, NJ, declared that Chicago-style deep-dish pizza “shouldn’t be called pizza. It’s very tasty, but it’s not pizza.”


Savoring the Sweet 16 on My News 3

March 29, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Events, Food, Wake Up With the Wagners Comments Off

ELV: Now that the University of Louisville has suffered a (select one:  bonecrushing, gut-wrenching, ego-deflating, gonad-shriveling) defeat at the hands of hated Kentucky, ELV is barely able to crawl out of bed this morning. Those of you still interested in the (select one: stupid, juvenile, overrated, sophomoric, commercial-driven, corrupt, made-for-television freak show) NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament might want to watch this….but what’s the point? ELV is retiring to his hovel with a bag of Cheetos and a quart of Maker’s Mark for the day. That is all.


(Best Sports Bars)

Pizza Rock – 201 N. 3rd Street

Todd English P.U.B. – Aria Hotel and Casino

Aces and Ales – 3470 S. Nellis Blvd.

Steiner’s – Multiple locations

Lagasse Stadium – Palazzo Hotel and Casino

The Top 30(?) Foodie Destinations in Las Vegas

March 20, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Food 29 Comments →

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Because they were buried somewhat in an earlier post….and because numb nut newspaper and magazine stringers just might learn something, here they are (again), updated and in no particular order, for your debate and delectation:

1) Raku

2) Kabuto

3) Sweets Raku

4) Carnevino

5) Spago

6) L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon

7) Joel Robuchon

8) Restaurant Guy Savoy

9) Chada Thai

10) Twist by Pierre Gagnaire


The UNLVino Rad Off-The-Hook BLOWOUT ‘14

March 15, 2014 By: mitchell Category: Events, Food, Wine 1 Comment →

Hold on to your most radical of hats, bros and broettes, firmly by the brim, and make that red sucker turn a three-sixty, then another 120 degree turn, COUNTER clockwise!  Yeah, that’s right, screw time!  That’s a concept we won’t be needing where we’re going, which is NOW.