Kabuto is unlike any other sushi spot in town (with the exception of the newly opened Yui). If you’re going with someone not familiar with the concept, it’s best to explain it in advance and manage expectations. The history behind Kabuto’s edomae sushi (and honestly, I had to look it up too) dates back roughly 200 years when Tokyo was known as Edo. Vendors served edomae sushi (fresh fish on top of vinegar rice) to commoners as an early form of fast food. As it became more popular the food’s status raised into the more upscale cuisine it’s known as today where the quick exchange from chef to customer is personal and profound, resulting in perfect bite after perfect bite.
Edomae sushi is known for it’s simplicity — vinegar, rice, fish, and not much else. This minimalist style of sushi celebrates the ingredients without clutter and you must trust the chefs to garnish each piece of sushi with soy sauce or wasabi as they see fit. You don’t want to bring someone expecting crazy Americanized rolls slathered in mayo and other sauces. Customers looking for that will be disappointed. Again, this place is about celebrating their product in it’s most simplified form. And, the best way to do that is to sit at the bar to watch the chefs practice their craft and interact with them.
The best way to experience what they have to offer is through any of their three omakase menus. I opted for the mid-level, $80 Yoroi menu (consisting of aperitif sake, amuse, 4 kinds of sashimi, 3 grilled items, 8 pieces of nigiri, a hand roll, miso soup, and dessert), while my wife for the $48 nigiri course (aperitif sake, amuse, 10 pieces of nigiri, a hand roll, and dessert) along with an a la carte purchase of a sashimi platter ($24).
As expected, everything was excellent starting with a light and refreshing 10 month aged orange sake, followed by monkfish liver with a decidedly mineral finish and orange clams and giant octopus.
The sashimi was flawless, particularly the silken textured bluefin tuna and the oyster with spicy radish and ponzu. The same can be said about the grilled plate. I’m typically not a big fan of mackerel, but their grilled version topped with a somewhat sweet sauce instantly turned me into a fan while the savory bites of seared waygu and meaty chunks of seared tuna belly showed their proficiency with all things cooked, as well.
The nigiri courses followed and the only flaw that could be mentioned is the lightning fast pace. I barely had time to enjoy each bite before the next arrived. Between my wife’s course and mine we sampled itoyori bream, bonito, Bluefin tuna, opal eye, giant octopus, live scallops, Chu-toro (medium fatty tuna), salmon roe, more tuna, uni, and golden sea eel followed by a sweet egg omelette. They also asked if we wanted to try anything else a la carte, at which point we were getting full but wanted to try the red grouper.
With a couple more courses to go, we watched as the chef expertly crafted cigar shaped chopped tuna handrolls. Thankfully they were small enough to finish. An earthy and rich mushroom miso soup was next before ending the meal with desserts.
The green tea roll was moist, but somewhat dense, with layers of light and subtley sweet cream. A decent dessert for sure, but not nearly as good as the multi-layered strawberry crepe cake with its bruléed top shattering and giving way to the delicate layers beneath. Topped with a single candle, it was an excellent meal to celebrate my birthday.
The atmosphere may not be for everyone. It’s not a “fun” environment where you can kick back and relax. It’s more like a shrine to the food. Or more like an art gallery where you have to pay homage to the works of art in near silence. But the food proves worthy of the setting as it’s beauty and precision is something to behold.
5040 Spring Mountain Rd
Las Vegas, NV 89146