New neighborhood restaurants rarely generate the level of buzz that has radiated from Other Mama since it opened in Spring Valley about three months ago. But I’m not surprised. For years I’ve been interviewing chefs and cooks and F&B pros on and off the Strip, asking them where they love to eat and what kind of places they want to see in Las Vegas. The most frequent responses: a raw bar, a great sushi joint, a relaxed place with great cocktails.
With Other Mama, chef and owner Dan Krohmer has delivered all three in a tidy package. His restaurant’s minimalist website uses the simple description “oysters, sashimi and cocktails,” and really, what could be better? Especially now, when we’re either fleeing the city or settling into triple digits, raw fish and shellfish with cool drinks is ideal.
The vibe of this new place—woody and relaxed, beach music, staff wearing softball team shirts—only contributes to the cool-down effect. Dip immediately into the craft cocktail menu, where all the drinks are $10 and named after interesting ladies, and many are created with house-infused spirits. Beryl is apricot bourbon with Peychaud’s bitters and a yuzu tincture; Agnes is hibiscus vodka with Grand Marnier, lemon, orange blossom water and a little bubbly. As I sat at the bar demolishing big, icy, Connecticut Blue Point oysters—a dollar each, on special that night—the couple beside me was drinking rhubarb-infused gin, straight-up.
You’ll need to check the specials board every night at Other Mama. I’ve seen live clam sashimi and a huge soft shell crab sandwich, among other treats. Definitely do oysters, choosing two sauces from stuff like wasabi cocktail sauce, rosemary mignonette or pickled habanero peppers. You can also go Rockefeller-style ($15), where the traditional creamy spinach is assisted by foie gras. A chef’s choice tasting of nigiri (seven pieces for $15) might offer treasures like amberjack belly or fluke fin with Japanese mint. If you want more rice with your fish, get the chirashi bowl, one of the most beautiful dishes around.
Everything here is about taking it easy. Krohmer—who has worked for Masaharu Morimoto in Philadelphia, as a personal chef for touring rock stars, and most recently helped open Japanese Cuisine by Omae in Las Vegas last year—and his crew are supremely confident about their food and ingredients. It shows. Fresh flavors are allowed to be themselves, like beef carpaccio ($15) augmented with nori and parmesan crisps. The seemingly simple roasted organic chicken ($21) is a crispy-skinned masterpiece, served still sizzling with shishito peppers and tender squares of potato. If you’re looking for a pure flavor bomb to hold up against all those cocktails, there’s fried rice with pork belly, kimchi, wild mushrooms and a fried egg ($13).
Maybe the quick word-of-mouth hype about Other Mama says something about our local restaurant scene and how we are developing into a pretty interesting little food city. Or maybe it’s just that when something is so good and hits its mark so cleanly, you just can’t stop talking about it, or eating it.
Other Mama 3655 S. Durango Drive #6, 702-463-8382. Wednesday-Monday, 5 p.m.-midnight.