A quick overnight trip to Las Vegas this past weekend for a friend’s birthday left me very little time to explore the sake scene in Sin City. That doesn’t mean, however, that my stay was totally nary a nip of nihon-shu.
I talked my friends into spending one of our meals together at Shibuya Restaurant. Located inside the MGM Grand Hotel, I selected this restaurant in the hopes of exploring it’s extensive sake list… and with my fingers crossed for discovering some hopefully authentic and delicious Japanese cuisine.
Some Wasabi With That?
The space itself was large and, although situated away from the casino’s blinking slot machines, was decorated with just enough flash to make sure you didn’t forget you were in Vega$, baby.
The Sushi I enjoyed at Shibuya was well prepared but a touch too heavy on the wasabi. I’m a wuss in this department, but if the chef is going to pre-season the fish with wasabi, it’s better to take a lighter hand.
There was a delicious crab salad that was served in a very, well, flashy Las Vegas way… a bowl of the crab salad was served perched over a fishbowl with a live fish swimming around. Can’t help thinking the poor little guy isn’t too happy working at a sushi joint.
Show me the $ake!
The Sake menu was large and the Shibuya website boasts that they have “the widest sake selection this side of the Pacific.” It was a good list to be sure – way above what you could find in most Japanese restaurants but I’m sure that NYC’s Sakagura Restaurant has them beat in the ‘widest sake selection’ department… assuming Nevada and New York are on the same side of the Pacific.
So I was on my own and to start us off, I guided my friends to the Sougen Junmai. This is a clean, crisp drink that really started to shine when our first courses arrived and we were able to pair it with food.
Next, we enjoyed Wakatake Junmai Daiginjo. This sake is along the same vein as the Sougen being clean, but as a junmai daiginjo grade, it’s more smooth and has more fruit coming across on the palate. The 16.5% alcohol content was a bit strong for a few folks, but should I be concerned that this didn’t bother me in the least? An interesting note on the service of sake. When a new sake is served, they give every guest a business card with the vital stats of each sake. It’s a nice touch and I’ve never seen this done at a restaurant before. It does make sense as I’m sure lots of people ask their server… “now what was the name of that first sake we had??”
So, if you find yourself looking for a little sake oasis in the deserts of Las Vegas, don’t hesitate to give Shibuya a try. The nihon-shu selection is fantastic so if drinking sake is your game, this is one table in the casino where you’re sure to come out a winner every time.