Yonaka: Modern Japanese, Even More Modern-er

So, dig on this new restaurant, friends: YONAKA.  It’s been open for less than a month, but already it’s starting to beat out a lion’s share of the hip Japanese-fusion restaurants on the strip by a country mile, in my opinion.  Granted, we are plagued by those paint-by-numbers sushi joints in disguise, two or three to a casino property (hopefully a tide to be turned by the recent Palazzo top-tier sushi announcement), but honestly the quality and downright artistic creativity I’m seeing here is SHOCKING.

The meal starts out with an Amuse-bouche, mine was a little square of edamame tofu with just a dab of yuzu tobiko roe and maldon salt.  The nuttiness of this, I assure you, groves of nut trees would covet.  Nice to see this small but appreciated wink-and-nod to the coming meal can be practiced off-strip without being contrived.  It’s fun, it’s simple, and the creamy/nutty tofu with just that tiniest bit of citrus and fish comes off pitch-perfect.  Hopes, consider yourselves raised.  Looking back, this was going through my mind.

I'd covet this.

A cursory glance at the menu won’t give any real indicator to the food to come, but once you start noticing menu descriptors like “apple chips” and “kafir lime vinaigrette” and “preserved lemon”, one does begin to wonder.  Mainly choosing with my empty stomach, I got the item with two types of fishes (my stomach is not logical…), Konpa: Atlantic Salmon and Hamachi, with yellow bell pepper, almonds, tiny slices of preserved apricot, super thin jalapeno wheels, and almost transparently thin dehydrated tomato chips, all in an orange ponzu.  Whew, that’s quite a list of elements, but it really is a bit of a salad in and around and highlighting some extremely superb fish.  The duo of rich, fatty fish cut into sashimi bits contrasted well with the bright, tangy ponzu (like all their sauces, made in-house), sweet preserved apricot, and surprisingly addictive tomato chips.  Perhaps most surprising was palate of textures presented, making each bite a fun little game of “find the best combo” (although, if that puzzle was solved for me and topped neatly onto the sashimi, I wouldn’t complain…).

Atlantic Salmon and Hamachi hodge-podge salad

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KYARA – First Bites

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KyAra is not as good as Raku nor as fun as Ichiza, but ELV is fairly certain you’re about to read that it is from his Eating Las Vegas co-authors — who will no doubt be effusive in their hyperbolic praise for a place that’s not nearly as fine as it wants to be. Slapsie Maxie will no doubt love it because it’s Asian, and “Mad Man” Mancini will love it because it’s cool and cheap. But both will be missing the point, which is: This place exists to cash in on the uber-cool Japanese tapas craze started by its predecessors. ELV wishes it would, and would be right there with them if the food was solid, but it isn’t. At least not yet.

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