Generally, Las Vegas restaurant menus are too big. There are an overwhelming number of options to choose from, and it’s not always easy to decipher a specialty, which dishes the restaurant does best.
At Yusho, the brand-new Japanese grill and noodle house at Monte Carlo created by Chicago chef Matthias Merges, the exact opposite is true. I wanted to order and eat every dish on its compact menu and then hope Merges would add more small, shareable bites to the selection.
The first thing you’ll notice is Yusho’s draught cocktail program, a concept that seems to be popping up on the Strip more frequently these days. These drinks ($13) are made in batches every few days and poured from a tap just like your favorite beer, fresh, seasonal takes on classic cocktails punched up with a little carbonation. There’s a gin and tonic, a fragrant and refreshing daiquiri, and a robust, almost smoky booze cola with dark and white rum and a slightly sour throwback cola recipe. These fun cocktails are a perfect match for Yusho’s sometimes whimsical food.
On this first visit, I sampled small plates of pickles ($9), chicken wings ($9), octopus ($15), vegetable tempura ($17), three different steamed buns ($9-$10), the Japanese griddle cake ($17) and a bowl of grilled shrimp ramen ($22). We Las Vegas eaters are used to getting this kind of food—inspired by yakitori grill houses and izakaya pubs—from off-Strip eateries at low prices. Yusho’s prices are very friendly; the spendiest bite is aged New York strip steak grilled with mushroom and peppercorn ($39).
I loved just about every dish. The chicken wings are mind-blowing, three boneless bites of smoky, rich meat complete with crispy skin. My favorite steamed bun was filled with house-made “chub” sausage, an unctuous blood sausage topped with a bit of pickled cauliflower. The okonomiyaki pancake was packed with sweet chunks of squid and topped with an earthy eggplant puree and a crisp, Thai-influenced green papaya salad. And the finisher was coffee soft-serve ice cream drizzled with Fernet caramel. You’re going to want to eat that, too.
Yusho Monte Carlo, 730-6888. Sunday-Wednesday, 3 p.m.-midnight; Thursday-Saturday, 3 p.m.-2 a.m.