Monday, August 11, 2008

So Much To Choose From (Sake House Ichiza, Las Vegas)

This was our last meal after a long week in Las Vegas. I can't say that I was craving Asian food, because we ate at Lotus of Siam a couple of nights before, but I think we were all craving Japanese food. The last time we ate at Sake House Ichiza, it was during lunch time and if you have ever been here before you know that there lunch menu is very limited. Now with the knowledge, we returned for dinner and there was so much to choose from! Besides the items on the menu, there were a lot of items written up on pieces of paper and taped all along the walls. Sake House Ichiza is truly an Izakaya (Japanese style tapas) type restaurant. After a long tiresome week and with our hashis (Japanese for chopsticks) in hand, we were ready to eat!

Korokke is the Japanese version of a Croquette. True to form, the Japanese always seem to borrow another country's idea and make it their own. Growing up as a kid, I didn't particularly care for Korokke, but this Korokke was very good. The outside was nice and crispy and the inside was not too heavy.

Chicken Tatsuta-Age
To be honest with you, I don't know the difference between Chicken Kara-Age or Tatsuta-Age. They are basically the same thing. It is a Japanese style fried chicken. When I was living in Japan I used to eat chicken karaage almost everyday. It has to be one of my favorite dishes. So, whenever I see it on the menu, I always order it, but I have to admit, this was one of my least favorite dishes at Ichiza.

Bacon Wrapped Mochi
I would have to say the Bacon Wrapped Mochi (Japanese rice ball) intrigued me the most. Conceptually this item sounded too good to pass up, but it somehow did not live up to my expectations. Perhaps my expectations were too high, but I wished it was a little better. Don't get me wrong you can never go wrong with bacon and rice. I just wish that the bacon flavor was a little more predominant and I was also hoping this dish would have been a little more crunchy on the outside. Nonetheless, the bacon wrapped mochi was pretty good.

Cubed Steak
We couldn't resist ordering this dish. I know personally, I couldn't pass up an opportunity to eat meat and rice. The meat wasn't anything special, but whenever you can have meat with gohan (rice) you're good to go!

Ginkgo Nuts
When I was in elementary school, we used to have a ginkgo tree right outside our classroom. The one thing I remember is that every time the fruit would fall to the ground and someone would step on it, it would emit an odor that you'll never forget. How someone ever wanted to eat these is something that leaves me to wonder. Now that I am a grown adult I don't mind eating the ginkgo nuts every now and then.

Now these aren't my mom's gyoza(Japanese Dumplings), but for a restaurant they were pretty good. Typically, I don't even bother ordering gyoza, because I know that I'll end up comparing them to my mom's home made gyoza, but these were pretty good.

Kushi-Katsu are basically the same thing as Tonkatsu (Pork Cutlet), but they are bite sized cubes on a skewer with onions. I just love kushi-katsu! It's like eating tonkatsu and onion rings on a stick.

Mochi Tempura
This is one dish that sounded better than it actually was. I guess we couldn't pass up on a dish that had the word mochi (Japanese rice cake) and tempura. Sounds like a match made in heaven. However, the execution of this dish was nowhere near heaven. It was not crunchy and it lacked flavor.

For some reason or another, I ALWAYS seem to get the super hot shishito peppers. For those who have never tried these peppers, for the most part they are not the least bit hot, but beware of the few that are extremely hot! This dish was plain and straight forward nothing to get excited about.

Sasami is the Japanese terminology referring to chicken breast tenderloin fillets. These were perfectly deep fried with a panko (Japanese bread crumbs) and topped with yamaimo (grated Japanese yam). The chicken itself was juicy and delicious! The only problem for me was the yamaimo. I really don't care for the gooey texture of yamaimo.

The teba (chicken wings) was another straight forward dish. The teba was cooked nicely in a yakitori style fashion except having the nice charcoal/wood taste of top echelon yakitori restaurants.

Tofu Steak
There are some items on menus that may seem to be the most plain or boring and turn out to be one of the best tasting dishes of the night. The Tofu Steak was definitely one of those dishes. The tofu was cooked with some type of miso based seasoning that was absolutely delicious!

Yaki-Onigiri (grilled rice balls) are one of my all-time favorite dishes ever! The crunchy outside and the soft and warm inside of the yaki onigiri is simply too good to pass up. The best yaki onigiris are the ones that are cooked with care. Too many places make a generic version that is cooked too fast and not seasoned enough with shoyu (soy sauce). The one here at Ichiza was a 6 on a scale of 10.

Soy Milk Mousse
The thing that hooked us on this dessert after reading the menu was that this dessert was served with black molasses and kinako (soybean flour). In Japan, these items are usually associated with mochi and is widely eaten. I would have to say that personally I was disappointed with this dessert because it was too bland. :(

Japanese Pudding
Japanese pudding is a staple on almost every menu at Japanese restaurants. I remember as kid, my mom used to make pudding all the time because it was my sister's favorite dessert. Ichiza's version was pretty decent but not the greatest.

Honey Toast
If you've read my write about Tokyo Table's version of the Honey Toast, you'll know how much I love this dessert. I thought that it couldn't get much better than Tokyo Table's version but I think I've found a new king of Honey Toast. Ichiza's Honey Toast is absolutely phenominal!

Sake House Ichiza
4335 Spring Mountain Road
Suite# 205
Las Vegas, NV. 89107

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