Shibuya respects yet brightens traditional Japanese cuisine
By Brock Radke
Photos by Peter Harasty
Unbelievably fresh, high-quality ingredients with a focus on seasonality. Ages of ancient tradition and customs. An artist’s sensibility. A reverent, dutiful approach to presentation and preparation. These are the hallmarks of Japanese cuisine. Although many of us cannot help thinking of steaming rice bowls, colorful sushi rolls and exciting teppanyaki grilling when imagining Japanese food, our thoughts are almost always based on Westernized versions of a simple yet refined way to cook and eat.
And there’s nothing wrong with that. Things tend to get a little loud, a little bold, here in the states—and especially here in Las Vegas. Perhaps we can have the best of both worlds. Maybe it’s possible to apply that quiet respect to naturally beautiful ingredients, as tradition would dictate, and to add some adventurous, modern kick to each dish. It’s more than possible, especially here in Las Vegas. It’s the way of Shibuya.
Perhaps this jewel box of a restaurant might be easy to miss in MGM Grand’s elaborate casino space, among restaurants from international titans of food like Wolfgang Puck, Joël Robuchon and Tom Colicchio. What seems like a dark nook is actually three different rooms with matching experiences. The front lounge and sushi bar is welcoming and full of energy. The teppanyaki grill table room is lively and cozy. And the intimate main dining room is sleek and peaceful, the perfect glass-encased canvas on which to create a most memorable experience.
Tasting menus are available, including an omakase, or chef’s choice, or futuri, for two. But the traditional menu is organized so neatly, each dish teasing and tantalizing, that customizing your meal from this selection is the most obvious way to go. Highlights from the opening cold plates include: a tasting of four kusshi and Kumamoto oysters, each topped with a different, unique complement; a chilled plate of yellowtail sashimi decorated with garlic, ginger and yuzu juice; and the signature tuna sashimi salad, tartare-style fish with wild arugula, Parmesan and black truffle soy vinaigrette. It sounds an odd combination, but it’s one that will have you licking the plate.
Mushroom or crab miso soup might follow, and then it’s on to some warm snacks like sea-salted edamame, roasted and glazed shishito peppers, and classic, familiar tempura, lightly battered and fried tiger shrimp and assorted vegetables include carrot, baby broccoli, squash and more. Larger portioned warm plates include miso-marinated black cod baked with spinach and sesame and whiskey-glazed crispy black pork.
If you’re a sushi aficionado, Shibuya will prove a life-changing experience. If you’re not, you will be, after engaging with the masterful work done here. A comprehensive selection of nigiri (with rice) and sashimi (without) is available, and only the most fresh and expertly crafted plates will arrive. Splurge on the likes of fatty tuna, tobiko (flying fish roe) and uni (sea urchin), pushing your palate to its curious best. Shibuya’s rolls are nothing like the gimmicky picks from your neighborhood sushi bar back home, with sweet and vinegary rice contrasting every carefully selected ingredient. Simply put, this rainbow roll beats your rainbow roll, and that’s a good thing. Welcome to the best of both worlds.
5-10 p.m. Sun.-Thurs., 5-10:30 p.m. Fri.-Sat. 702.891.3001