Yatai hides on the northwest corner of Tropicana and Pecos, tucked behind a gas station in a strip mall surrounded by other strip malls. Its style of Japanese pub food is familiar for those who frequent several similar Spring Mountain Road restaurants, but none are more affordable than Yatai, where I couldn’t find anything over $9.
The menu breaks into sections, like grilled, deep fried, tempura and raw. Coconut shrimp ($3) was an immediate standout thanks to a sweet batter and a sweeter, perfectly complementary dipping sauce. Garlic calamari ($5.95) is full of its advertised flavor, but an accompanying sauce would have been nice with this one.
Dynamite ($7.95), one of my regular dishes, is all about the seafood at Yatai—no rice resting below it, just scallops and calamari on a sizzling plate accompanied by zucchini. Dry seaweed flakes bring out extra umami, and the melted Parmesan cheese becomes an essential part of its savory sauce.
This new restaurant’s location could be an obstacle, but Yatai’s food is good enough to overcome it.
Yatai Japanese Grill & Pub 4865 S. Pecos Road #5, 702-454-0055. Daily, 5 p.m.-midnight.