Food and Food: Las Vegas and Travels31 Dec 2008 08:07 am

On day five, we tired of meat.

“How about something fresh? Light?” Connor inquired, hopefully.

Initially the plan had been to ingest some Texas style BBQ, but I think we had all hit the wall at that point. We decided perhaps something vegetarian or at least lighter would be nice.

While my parents headed for mexican at the Border Grill, we set out to find Ichiza, a small japanese izakaya restaurant I read about on Yelp. The place was on the second floor of a plaza nestled in the heart of an area that seemed to be popular with the Asian community, on Spring Mountain Road west of the Strip.

The third of my birthday dinners, Ichiza was a riot. Friends Amy, Matt, Joyce and Andy joined Connor, Mike and I at a low table. The place is decorated in typical izakaya style, with dark woods, dim lighting, lots of booze and many patrons. While there was an extensive menu, there were also many pieces of paper with hastily written items on them hanging on the wall: wasabi octopus, Berkshire pork sausage, yellowtail, bluefin tuna – specials of the day and week. Many were sold out, however.

Tokyo, or Las Vegas? This photo of the bar makes it hard to tell.

It was very authentic, and a lot of fun. I don’t even recall all of what we ordered since we got so many dishes, but some things included: beef tongue on skewers, kushi katsu (mini breaded pork bites), oshinko (japanese pickles), spanish mackerel, shishamo (fried smelt) and some insanely beautiful inside out roll the waitress recommended with a smile to Mike.

The waitress recommended “roll”. I cannot remember the name, but it had fresh fish, shiso leaf, egg and varaious kinds of fish roe on top of soft warm sushi rice.

We also got a sashimi platter, with well cut, high quality fish. Andy and Joyce got the “roll your own” sushi rolls, which looked fun, and different. But, sushi lovers be warned, izakayas are probably not the best place for people who only like sushi. It’s more bar snacks; food on tiny plates with a lot of variety. Izakaya-style eating rewards adventurous eaters, and we all left happy.

Apparently their honey toast is the bomb (a Yelp reviewer describes it suchly: “a giant, absurdly fluffy hollowed out loaf of bread filled to bursting with honey and ice cream“), but we got the banana crepe, which was cut up artfully into sushi roll style. Not that I had room left.

Taking a picture of Matt taking a picture of the banana crepe.

If you go, order off the walls, get the “mystery greens” shochu, and be prepared to sit and stay a while. The beauty of izakaya is that you eat so you can drink more, then you drink so you can eat more.

Smelt on the left (with spicy mayo) and pickles on the right.

I would be almost certain to return on a future trip, if it wasn’t for news that Raku is the new darling of the Las Vegas izakaya scene. Could it be better than Ichiza? I need to find out. Man, if a desert city can do it, why can’t a prairie city?

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