PB&J doesn’t mean the same thing to executive chef Gene Villiatora that it does to most folks. At Xtreme Sushi & Asian Tapas Bar, Gene’s PB and J roll is a medley of prawns, bacon, and jalapeno, all rolled with a creamy dash of avocado. He puts a similarly creative spin on his other sushi inventions, whether by incorporating fixings like Cajun albacore and garlic ponzu or deep-frying classic rolls like the California and Philadelphia.
His inspired take on culinary staples isn’t limited to sushi. Gene integrates Japanese and other eastern flavors into original tapas, from miso-glazed kobe burgers to Thai-style salmon with peanut butter curry sauce. On select evenings, he also hosts multi-course dinners centered on steaks aged for 28 days, the maximum amount of time steak can go before it qualifies for retirement benefits.
In 1971, Jimmy Nishiyama introduced the city of Las Vegas to Japanese hibachi cuisine. Three decades later, and the friends have stayed very much in touch. During that time, South Geisha House Steak & Sushi, Nishiyama's brainchild, has grown to fill three locations and eight menu pages. Colorful specialty sushi rolls, such as the baked Japanese Lasagna––cream cheese and mayo atop a crab-meat and avocado roll––make fitting partners for grilled lobster, filet mignon, or scallops in hibachi dinners. Nearly 30 varieties of sake trip merrily across the palate, while the Geisha martini blends sake with plum wine and a treasure trove of James Bond jokes.
Seven days a week, world-class DJs bump hip-swaying beats at KOI Lounge, the Strip’s freshest take on the boutique nightclub. Plush lounge seating lines the border of the circular space, which overlooks Planet Hollywood’s sprawling casino, with the spacious, onyx-hued dance floor glittering with gold flecks even in the low lighting. Partiers replenish their energy with the kitchen’s Japanese-inflected cuisine, which—working in tandem with Asian-inspired decor and European bottle service—lends the venue an international vibe typically achieved by serving vials full of international waters.
Sushi has become wildly popular in cities across the U.S., but Osaka Summerlin was way ahead of the trend. Osaka natives Sam and Aiko Nakanishi founded its sister restaurant way back in 1969, and their daughter Joy expanded their tradition of ultrafresh seafood and sizzling Japanese entrees to Summerlin three decades later.
The menu spotlights exotic Japanese seafood, including live surf clams, abalone, and chickens that taught themselves to tread water. In addition, chefs craft traditional bento boxes and inventive sushi rolls, such as spicy crab with tempura jalape?os. But the real star of the show is the hibachi grill. Here, chefs entertain diners with spatula flips, fiery onion volcanoes, and other tricks of the trade as they sear meat, seafood, and veggies to a perfect char.
The grill's dancing flames might be the flashiest sight at Osaka Summerlin, but the decor does its best to compete. Red walls blush in the soft glow of square wall sconces, graphic art from local designers hangs on the walls, and bejeweled pendant lamps evoke overfed snowflakes.
With more than 45 years of history behind it, Osaka is run by a family who knows how to separate its business from the competitive Las Vegas restaurant scene. The formula requires award-winning chefs and and three distinct menus to appeal to as many sensibilities as possible. In addition to curry-kissed udon noodles and inventive makimono, Osaka's dishes also feature imported delicacies from Japan such as live surf clams, certified Kobe beef, and bonito.
And to mirror its menus' diversity, the staff has created three specific dining experiences to accommodate everything from peaceful, romantic dates to nights out with an energetic crew. A tatami room sets diners on traditional woven mats in a private setting surrounded by backlit Japanese screens. For live entertainment, there's watching the chefs' showy knife skills at work and even occasional music acts at the teppanyaki area and sushi bar.
Although they're firm about the freshness of the fish and the quality of the ingredients, 808 Sushi's chefs like to have fun when they're making sushi. Experts with the knife and inventive with designs, they fold salmon, tuna, and crab into a wide variety of specialty rolls, adorning them with colorful swirls of sauce, slices of mango, and flowers of jalapeño. When inspiration strikes them, they assemble rolls into playful shapes, such as a cheerful smiley face when they're feeling particularly happy or a cute teddy bear when they're feeling unusually afraid of bear attacks.
An elegant Japanese fan and colorful pictures of sea creatures speckle the walls of the dining hall, where guests meander past sweeping spreads of all-you-can-eat sushi, fresh from the bar. Others sit at the tabletops and order à la carte, savoring plates of rolls, japanese noodles, and teriyaki dishes along with glasses of sake.