Smart and Streetwise
Yusho brings innovative Japanese bites to the Strip
In recent months, the Monte Carlo has undergone a substantial face-lift with the opening of multiple food and beverage venues on previously underused Strip frontage. The undoubted crown jewel of this new look is Yusho, the Las Vegas outpost of the similarly named Chicago restaurant from Matthias Merges. Merges may not be a household name but he certainly has a storied pedigree. Chicago’s Yusho, his first restaurant, was recognized as one of Bon Appétit’s Best New Restaurants in 2012—unsurprising considering Merges worked under Charlie Trotter at his world-famous eponymous Chicago restaurant.
Yusho at Monte Carlo
Now he’s brought his culinary stylings to the Strip from the Windy City. So what exactly is Yusho? It sells itself as a Japanese street food restaurant but that’s certainly an oversimplification; I like to think of it as an izakaya, where the dishes are not only accessible but also elevated. But you’ll find no sushi on the menu and only a handful of raw dishes that can loosely be referred to as sashimi. This is a Japanese restaurant of a different flavor.
On the menu, seemingly simple raw dishes are so much more. The scallop is sublime, hinting of salt and pepper without overwhelming. Likewise, tuna—Yusho’s play on poke—combines the sea denizen with jalapeño, taro strings, a lightly sweet ponzu sauce and pine nuts for a study in textural contrasts. Tiger shrimp arrive swimming in a refreshing lemon dashi, endowing the crustaceans with a citric bite.
Yusho is equally adept with grilling and frying. Smoky duck breast is wrapped around beech mushrooms and served with a sharp medley of marinated shitake mushrooms atop a creamy parsnip purée. Chicken drummies are served with a red miso paste you’ll want to be served with every dish; these are not your typical chicken wings. Neither are the actual chicken wings, served deboned with a side of bonito salt.
Other good options include an eye-pleasing aged New York strip steak and a mouthwatering chub sausage steam bun.
If there is a signature dish, it is certainly the Logan “poser” ramen, so named because it is as untraditional as a bowl of ramen can get. It's an onslaught of umami with Nueske bacon, crispy pork croquette, pickled ume (Japanese plum), bonito, nori, pork shoulder and a poached egg.
You may be surprised to find desserts in a Japanese restaurant but the soft-serve is not to be overlooked, along with the doughnuts. Coffee ice cream is served with Fernet caramel, nori and kid-friendly Pop Rocks in a flurry of flavor in an unsuspecting combination.
In true izakaya fashion, Yusho has cutting-edge libations, with an unparalleled Japanese beer and whiskey selection alongside an innovative cocktail-on-tap program. Do not miss the gin and tonic, guaranteed to be unlike any other you’ve ever had due to an uncharacteristic earthiness from house-made tonic infused with Peruvian cinchona bark.
Yusho is simply one of the most exciting restaurants to arrive on the Las Vegas Strip in some time. Any visit of yours should include a drop-in to this seriously talented newcomer.
Monte Carlo, 5-11 p.m. Sun.-Thurs., 5 p.m.-1 a.m. Fri.-Sat. 702.730.6888