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Monday, October 25, 2010

Skip Yatai on the Strip

Anything purporting to be Asian fusion spells trouble for me, so I didn't have high expectations for Yatai on the strip. Well, besides a half-way decent crab handroll using tofu sheets and a theatrical pouring of sake from a giant wooden flute, most of the food wasn't all that.

Message boards exalted the virtues of its tuna sushi over toasted rice but while it sounded interesting on paper, it was much less so in practice. The tuna and the crunchy rice were ok and I liked that it tried to add flavor with a slice of jalapeno over each sushi. But it didn't compare to the fine sushi joints serving tuna sushi.

The crab hand roll that came in a paper-thin tofu sheet was probably the most flavorful of all things we got but again, why have this when you can have a divine blue crab hand roll at Hiko?

Our server repeated a few times that they weren't a sushi place. That's why they don't have the pickled ginger we asked for, she continued.

Then there was the sake pouring out of a massive wooden container that required the showmanship (or woman in our case) of a master.

It was poured into a cup until it overflowed into another wooden cup. It's a pain to drink but apparently that's how some hard-core sake places serve it.

There were some utterly forgettable dishes, including a paprika-dusted squid dish that was so overcooked and rubbery that we mourned the abuse the squid suffered.

There were also deep fried octopus balls that I thought would be like the ones sold on the streets of Tokyo from those molds. But alas, they were like potato koroke, deep fried balls of mashed potatoes coated with panko crumbs, except there were barely any octopus pieces and it wasn't panko.

The other deep fried items were just ok. The fried pumpkin with curry salt got rave reviews on message boards so we ordered that. The pumpkin was well-fried, crispy and light. The curry salt consisted of curry powder and salt. Nothing revolutionary, frankly.

The chicken karaage was also crispy but nothing like the really gingery and soy sauce-marinated flavor you get at real yakitoris or izakayas like Shinsengumi.

Maybe it was because they are neither a real sushi joint or real izakaya. They're fusion.

Not sure I'll be returning here. There are simply too many options serving far better food at similar or lower prices.

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