South Point Asian eatery Zenshin is an overachiever

Zenshin’s Candy Cane Roll combines spicy softshell crab, tuna, yellowtail and eel sauce.
Photo: Corlene Byrd

The 8 Second Bull Ride is a sushi roll with beef. It’s not just any old hunk of steak, though; imagine buttery ribbons of barely seared American Wagyu—earthy, funky icing on the cake of an already flavorful roll stuffed with snow crab meat, creamy avocado and tempura asparagus. It doesn’t need these unctuous morsels of cow, but it’s a pretty interesting bite with them onboard.

Putting beef on a sushi roll and giving it a rodeo-friendly name is a strategic move at Zenshin, the new restaurant at the South Point hotel and casino. After all, there’s an equestrian events center here. That might lead one to assume a forward-thinking Asian restaurant is an ill fit in a casino where eateries named Steak ’n Shake and Primarily Prime Rib thrive. It’s actually quite the canny installation, further diversifying a wide restaurant lineup to appeal to every visitor segment, not to mention upgrading the operation by partnering with chef/owner Terence Fong, one of the most experienced kitchen vets in Las Vegas.

Zenshin looks the part of the standard sushi bar, with the exception of a separate dining room that fills up during dinner hours. It doesn’t allow as much pan-Asian and Hawaiian influence as Fong’s other local restaurants, a pair of Island Sushi spots. But there are a few island-style favorites, and it’s nice to know you have killer oxtail soup ($12) and fresh tuna poke (in mini tacos, salad or a rice bowl) at your disposal.

One way to enjoy Hawaiian-style poke at Zenshin is in these tasty little tacos.

The restaurant’s name means “moving forward,” and the cuisine aims for advancement without drifting too often into fusion territory. You’ll find obvious appetizers like pork and vegetable gyoza, garlic fried chicken (both $7) and crispy rice with spicy tuna ($9) alongside creative touches like eggplant fries with Parmesan cheese ($7) and miso-glazed pork belly ($9). There are rice bowls (brown or white) with everything from standard tonkatsu pork ($9) to assorted sashimi ($21), and those proteins bleed into evening entrées, served with miso, salad and rice. Dinner could also be braised beef short rib with kimchi fried rice and plum tomato salsa ($27) or a grilled bone-in ribeye with roasted garlic and a mushroom medley ($34). See? Not your average sushi bar.

If you are in raw fish mode, Zenshin is likely as good as it gets in this far south neighborhood. There are baked and tempura rolls for the civilians, interesting veggie rolls like ume (sour plum paste and cucumber, $4) or a tempura mashup of sweet potato, eggplant and avocado ($5), and sushi or sashimi combo plates to share with the family. Stick with specialty rolls like the Candy Cane (spicy softshell crab with tuna, yellowtail and eel sauce, $13) or the salmon skin-laden Double Down ($12) before moving on to some very progressive sashimi plates. Cajun albacore with red onion, jalapeño, cilantro and lemon-soy reduction ($12) reminds me of some of the hip plates from the west side’s Yonaka, another exciting new modern Japanese joint. That’s a neighborhood place. Here at South Point, Zenshin has a tougher job making everybody happy. So far, so good.

Zenshin South Point, 797-8538. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, 11 a.m.-1 a.m.

Tags: Dining
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Brock is an award-winning writer who has been documenting life in Las Vegas for 20 years. He currently leads entertainment ...

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