Monte Carlo Resort and Casino
3770 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV 89109
Dining date: 5/7/14
Yusho is one of the more notable openings in Las Vegas this year at the Monte Carlo. A Chicago transplant, Yusho’s original location became popular for its concept inspired by a Japanese noodle house/yakitori shop. Matthias Merges, who worked almost a decade and a half under Charlie Trotter, went a completely different route from his fine dining background for this one. Ramen, of course, is on the menu, as well as a number of grilled and fried items and a handful of steamed buns. The restaurant is very casual, colorful and playful. I was invited in, bringing my parents along to try.
Wine and beer options are present at Yusho but the real focus is on an extensive collection of sake and cocktails, both handcrafted and on draft.
YELLOW LABEL KIKUSUI FUNAGUCHI, NAMA GENSHU
I sampled one of the sakes and moved into a sampling of four of the draft cocktails. My favorite of the bunch had to be the paloma – light and refreshing with just a bit of bite.
BOOZE COLA DARK RUM, DEMERARA WHITE RUM, BITTERS, CITRUS
PALOMA BLANCO TEQUILA, GRAPEFRUIT, MINERAL WATER
ROAD-SODA NAMA GENSHU SAKE, LONDON DRY GIN, LEMON, SUGAR
GIN & TONIC NAVY STRENGTH GIN, HOUSEMADE TONIC
Rather than ordering a la carte, we went with an omakase and let the kitchen dictate our menu for the evening.
We began with a crisp and bright oyster with a nice crunch from fried onions.
GRILLED ROOT VEG BEETS, BOY CHOY SALAD, SHALLOT
OCTOPUS HARICOT VERT, EGG YOLK, ENOKI MUSHROOMS
A duo of grilled courses were next. A grilled root vegetable salad was highlighted by the sweet beets, while charred smoky octopus had crisp haricot vert and earthy mushrooms for balance.
DUCK BREAST SHIITAKE MARMALADE, SCALLION
Duck breast was tender, smothered by a sweet marmalade. I expected a stronger smoke flavor to be imbued in this yakitori; it would’ve gone a long way to counter some of the sweetness in these bites.
JAPANESE GRIDDLE CAKE SQUID, GREEN PAPAYA, THAI BASIL
Okonomiyaki was light and airy, almost creamy, complemented by the fresh bite of bean sprouts and green papaya. Squid added a subtle seafood flavor.
CRISPY COD CUCUMBER, SESAME, JALAPENO
PORK SHOULDER KIMCHI, CILANTRO, PEANUTS
Two buns were next; the cod was indeed crispy, with the richness offset by some strong acidity. A tender chunk of pork shoulder was complemented by spicy kimchi and crunchy peanuts – rich but balanced.
LOGAN POSER RAMEN CRISPY PORK, HEN EGG, NORI, CUCUMBER
A signature item here – this seemed to be a must. A hearty miso broth and chewy noodles made for a good bowl, but the crispy pork was really something else. The chunk of fried pork belly was truly indulgent, moist and meaty. A perfectly poached egg helped everything go down.
HAMACHI KAMA YELLOWTAIL COLLAR, PEANUT SAUCE
A daily special this evening – the yellowtail collar was huge. Moist meat around the collar was quite tasty, especially with a subtle smoke flavor throughout. Peanut sauce and a fresh slaw added some complementary flavors and textures.
DOUGHNUTS TOFU, SWEET POTATO, ROSEMARY
PANNA COTTA CURRY, HONEY, CITRUS
Both desserts were good. The doughnuts, with silken tofu whipped into the dough, were served hot and delicately crispy. The panna cotta was savory yet sweet with an oddly addicting curry flavor. Citrus segments helped to brighten up each bite, making this dessert very successful.
I thought the meal at Yusho was a good one. The menu is fairly varied and the kitchen clearly has range, showing off some strong flavors profiles while keeping them pretty balanced. The prices do seem high though, even for The Strip. A meal can quickly approach $100 food-only and I’ll be interested to see whether the clientele is willing to pay that for a more casual noodle house/izakaya-type concept.
Note: This was a hosted meal.