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Kabuto - A Review

Larry Oct 24, 2012 01:30 PM

[Here's a text version of an html document I created; pardon any conversion errors.]

Kabuto
5040 West Spring Mountain Road #4
September 2012
Sushi (Edomae style).

Kabuto opened in 2012, and even before it opened was hailed as the next best thing. Since its opening, reviews have been glowing. It's located off Strip, just a stone's throw from Raku and Monta.

***The Menu***
Kabuto offers Edomae sushi, which is a style that originated in Edo (old Tokyo). Fish should be varieties that were known in the Tokyo bay area. Unagi? No. Anago? yes. Sushi rolls are a definite no-no. Kabuto doesn't get all of its fish from the Tokyo bay area, but tries to conform in principal. Varieties of fish vary from week to week. In addition, there's an omakase style menu; at $80 it's a real bargain, especially if compared to Strip standards.

***Atmosphere***
Kabuto is a small place, with a 10 seat sushi bar and two tables that each seat four. Unless you have some deep seated need to sit at a table, go for the sushi bar; it's where the action is. The restaurant is plain, but in a way elegant.

***My Meal***
I went for the omakase style offering. It started with a glass of house made peach sake, with just 3% alcohol, served over crushed ice. It had a pronounced peach flavor, and made a refreshing apéritif. After that, I'm not sure I wrote everything down; here's what I recorded.
**Giant clam, scallop, Japanese cucumber and seaweed.
**Tuna, Tasmanian trout, baby yellowtail, and fluke (all raw). Served with aged soy sauce. The Tasmanian trout, which is similar in color to salmon, was especially good.
**Sawagani, cooked baby yellowtail, raw seasoned wagyu, and {something else}. Sawagani are tiny hard shelled crabs that are flash fried until crunchy. Kabuto's version was much better than the one at Sushisamba. The seasoned wagyu beef was also very tasty.
**Sushi course. A number of pieces of sushi were served, one at a time. It's worth noting that the pieces were very small - as they should be, since sushi is designed to be eaten in a single bite. The offerings were as follows (all were served as nigirizushi; all were good unless otherwise noted as better than good).
--ma-aji. As I understand it, this is "true aji": a different species of horse mackerel than what is normally served in the United States.
--houbou (gurnard). No, I've never heard of it, either.
--umimasu (Tasmanian trout). Very good stuff.
--hotate (scallop). When scallop is good, it can be really, really good. This was one of those instances. It was sweet, with no off flavor. I'm not sure how to describe the texture; I want to say "soft" and "firm" at the same time.
--chutoro (moderately fatty tuna). This was as good as some restaurants' otoro.
--ikura (salmon roe). Served over rice, in a tiny saucer. The roe were smaller and less fishy than normal.
--anago (saltwater eel). I'm generally not a big fan of anago. I find that unagi (freshwater eel) tends to be richer and more flavorful. However, this anago, prepared in house, was delicious.
--tamago (egg). Traditionally served last. This was served without rice, and was very hot! Picture ignorant American diner trying to act cool as second degree burns form on the inside of his mouth. "Oh, I'll cool things off with some sake." Picture ignorant American diner choking on sake. Not one of my finer moments.
The egg was the last of the standard sushi items. However, I chose to add a few others:
--otoro (fatty tuna, from the lower belly). Ridiculously rich, but I love the stuff. This was an excellent example.
--kamashita (fatty tuna, from around the cheek). Where the otoro was heavily marbled, the fat here was more in veins. It was also excellent, although I think I liked the otoro slightly more. I think I've had this before, but it's been presented as simply another variety of otoro.
--uni (sea urchin). Like the salmon roe, this was served on rice, in a tiny saucer. Sourced from Catalina Island, it was top notch.
**Blue crab hand roll.
**Miso soup with fish.
**Dessert: azuki beans with mochi, kiwi, green tea ice cream, and probably other stuff I didn't write down. Not life altering, but interesting.

***Summary***
In terms of quality, Kabuto's only competitor is Barmasa. In terms of atmosphere and price, Kabuto is a clear winner. After just one meal, this is my favorite sushi bar in Las Vegas.

***The Bill***
The omakase menu was $80, plus $20 for add ons, plus drinks, tax and tip.

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  1. d
    Dave Feldman Oct 24, 2012 05:00 PM

    Thanks very much for this review. I was curious why you like the atmosphere better at Kabuto than Barmasa. Was their much interaction with the staff and fellow diners at the bar?

    2 Replies
    1. re: Dave Feldman
      Larry Oct 24, 2012 05:07 PM

      You hit it. At Barmasa, there's no sushi bar. Barmasa is very big, and seems a bit sterile.

      The server I had wasn't very knowledgeable about the menu. Timing was also off: good early in the meal, then slower and slower as the room started to fill.

      1. re: Larry
        d
        Dave Feldman Oct 24, 2012 05:14 PM

        I understand exactly what you are talking about. And I agree (although I've never been to Kabuto).

    2. b
      BRB Nov 1, 2012 03:17 PM

      Very nice report Larry - I really enjoyed reading it. I ate at Kabuto back in July and was really stunned, not only by the quality of the fish but also by the preparation and presentation. And I sat at the sushi bar, and was mesmerized by the intensity of the sushi chef and just how perfectly he cut and seasoned every piece. Kabuto is not for everyone, but if you truly appreciate the beauty and flavor of traditional sushi, I think Kabuto is an absolute must visit in Vegas.

      I'm in Chicago. People keep sending me to their sushi bar du jour. I watch as the sushi chefs rapidly cut pieces, not evenly. I taste dense, very sweet tamago. I taste fish that seems like it's been wrapped in plastic wrap for days. And I wonder where is our Kabuto. Katsu is as close as it gets in this town in my opinion, and it still is no Kabuto. And so I look forward to my next trip to Vegas - Raku, Kabuto . . . and looking forward to finding out what Chada Thai has to offer. We get some great Northern (and even Central) Thai food in Chicago, but no real Southern Thai.

      3 Replies
      1. re: BRB
        d
        Dave Feldman Nov 1, 2012 03:44 PM

        Have you tried Aroy Thai in Chicago? I was very impressed with their Southern dishes (on a separate menu).

        1. re: Dave Feldman
          b
          BRB Nov 1, 2012 03:54 PM

          Actually, I live a short walk from Aroy and it's excellent. But the menu is distinctively Northern. Recently though, I had a terrific Southern Thai meal at Jitlada in LA.

          By the way Dave, you should know that Andy (now former chef at TAC Quick) is now on his own, having opened up Andy's Thai Kitchen (ATK) at 946 W. Wellington very recently. Visited last night and had an excellent meal, and not surprisingly as good as I would expect from any of the authentic Thai spots in Chicago.

          1. re: BRB
            d
            Dave Feldman Nov 2, 2012 05:27 AM

            Very sorry. Of course I know Aroy is Thai (and like LOS, I believe the chef is from Chiang Mai).

            Jitlada had an earlier incarnation, and it was the first Thai restaurant I ever ate at, I believe in the 1960s. But it is a far better restaurant now, and only the second Southern Thai restaurant I've ever tried.

      2. s
        sushiman Jan 8, 2013 08:43 AM

        How does Sen of Japan compare these days?

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