Reviews

Yui thrills, if you’re up for the ultimate sushi experience

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Let the nigiri rain down.
Photo: Jon Estrada

Chef Gen Mizoguchi revolutionized sushi in Las Vegas when he opened Kabuto on Spring Mountain Road in 2012. Not only was Kabuto’s traditional Tokyo-style edomae exquisitely prepared and served, Mizoguchi used rare fish flown in daily from Japan and delivered a complete package of cuisine, service and atmosphere for a considerably lower price than what’s available in Strip casino restaurants.

Last fall, after leaving Kabuto, the affable sushi master opened Yui Edomae Sushi just a few blocks east. Everything he did at Kabuto is only intensified here: the same unbelievably pristine cuts of fish; the same extravagant yet simple menu; the same small, minimalist setting; the same omotenashi service, translating loosely to “the spirit of selfless hospitality.”

Chef Gen Mizoguchi.

Chef Gen Mizoguchi.

At Yui, Mizoguchi is pushing the experience to its limits, and that includes the addition of an ultimate, upgraded omakase menu ($160) along with the signature eight-course offering ($120) and nigiri-based tasting menu ($68). If you’re into this kinda stuff—if you’re obsessed with the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi, for example—the most expensive menu is a must.

It begins with an icy shot of sake Mizoguchi makes himself, aged 13 months. An assortment of tiny bites follows, pickled vegetables and morsels of abalone and tender okra topped with bonito and, on my visit, a tiny crab eaten whole for an exhilaratingly odd, crunchy-briny blast. Then, a simple, blissful soup, perhaps a few chewy cherrystone clams in kombu broth. The sashimi course offers five varieties of raw perfection like fatty and lean cuts of Spanish mackerel, baby eel, A5 Wagyu beef from Japan and an oyster from Seattle.

Time for <em>uni</em>.

Time for uni.

A small hot plate of grilled items arrives, more decadent A5 plus some of that mackerel, cooked, and some bluefin tuna cheek. The parade of nigiri begins after that, 10 pieces of premium fish fashioned before your eyes on expertly vinegared rice the Yui crew shaves off every day for perfect texture. “That’s my favorite fish of all-time,” Mizoguchi says as he drops a slab of nodoguro, blackthroat sea perch, in front of me, but he has other favorites, like the long-finned bullseye. These are fish we’ve never heard of, let alone tasted, but it’s more about texture. From that crazy crab to these glistening tiles of marinated tuna to the sweet egg omelette (gyoku) that wraps up this course, the variation is artful and astounding. There’s a hand roll, a robata-grilled botan shrimp head and dessert—matcha green tea pudding—before I finish my most memorable meal of the year so far and leave feeling happy, healthy and accomplished.

And lighter, by more than $200, for dinner for one. Therein lies the rub of freshly-grated-on-sharkskin wasabi. Kabuto, by most accounts as stellar as ever, offers menu options of $48, $80 and $120, along with some à la carte possibilities. If you seek out a similar—not the same, but close—experience at the Strip’s finest sushi houses, it’ll hit you in the wallet about as hard as Yui.

The thing that sets it apart is Mizoguchi, who lives and breathes sushi and service. It’s not his job, it’s his purpose and passion. If you’re into this kinda stuff, it’s worth it. But if you want the meal I had, go early and make sure you sit at the bar.

Yui Edomae Sushi 3460 Arville St. #HS, 702-202-2408. Monday-Saturday, 6-10:30 p.m.

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Brock Radke has been writing about Las Vegas for more than 15 years. He currently covers entertainment, music, nightlife, food ...

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