Don’t let the name fool you—there’s nothing cheesy going on at Yojie Japanese Fondue. This is shabu-shabu, the Japanese iteration of Chinese hot pot, a DIY dining experience where you quickly cook meat, fish, noodles and vegetables in a pot of flavorful, boiling broth. My guess is Yojie, which already had three Southern California restaurants before recently opening its first Las Vegas location in Village Square, was trying to make the food sound more fun, hence the appetizing misnomer.
But it’s already fun, and Yojie puts a few twists on the experience, starting with sleek, relaxing decor that allows you to sit at the counter-top for an upbeat feast. Unlike the more communal Chinese hot pot, where you’re swishing and dipping in a shared bowl, everyone gets an individual burner and pot at Yojie. Everyone gets a bountiful bowl of colorful, crisp veggies, too, carrots and cabbage and shimeji and enoki mushrooms, plus thin noodles and brown or white rice. And everyone chooses a meat (beef, chicken, pork, salmon or combo) and a broth (sukiyaki, spicy miso or tonkotsu). Prices depend on how much meat you want (three to 10 ounces) and which protein you prefer—A5 Japanese Wagyu is market price, and Gold Grade American Kobe is $26.99 for five ounces at lunch. Swish your ingredients for a few seconds, dip each bite in a finishing sauce and you’re in business. And if you really wanted fondue, you can dip fruit and pastry in chocolate for dessert.
Yojie does a traditional sukiyaki, a shallow pot of sweet broth that boils down faster and gets thicker (your server will help you keep it bubbling by adding water). Instead of a ponzu or sesame sauce, you dip each piece of meat into raw egg, maybe with a bit of garlic or chopped scallion beaten into it. It’s a pleasant, memorable bite, especially if you’re eating paper-thin slices of fatty beef or Kurobuta pork. For the biggest flavor boost, eschew the tonkotsu pork broth for the spicy miso, particularly tasty with chicken, vegetables and salmon with a generous dunk in the citrus-soy ponzu.
You don’t have to spring for the more expensive beef, either. “Yojie’s cut” ($16.99 for five ounces or $23.99 for 10 ounces at dinner) is rich, marbled and delicious, needing only a few seconds in your chosen broth for maximum melt-in-your-mouth texture. The combo entrée gets you five ounces of this stuff plus an equal amount of chicken, salmon, pork or pork belly, the best way to get the full Yojie experience in one sitting.
I’m a shabu-shabu convert. I’ll admit that the prospect of eating what is basically deconstructed soup—and cooking it myself—while paying $15 to $25 to do so seemed like not the best deal. But that’s an inaccurate description of this experience. The ingredients are high quality and impeccably prepared, and even the smallest order of meat is ample and delicious. Bottom line, it’s fun, no matter what you call it.
Yojie Japanese Fondue 9440 W. Sahara Ave., 702-445-7008. Sunday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-11:30 p.m.