August 1, 2010
I used to think I knew Vegas. I know my way up and down the Strip. I can lead you through most major casinos, both sober and drunk. I know where to find a 2-minute taxi line at the MGM on fight night. Yet somehow, I didn’t know of Ichiza until a month ago.
Located on the second floor of a random shopping center off the Strip, Ichiza is small Japanese izakaya that’s open til 4AM on the weekends. Prices are reasonable – about $5-7/plate – and the food is absolutely fantastic.
Their printed menu isn’t very comprehensive; the majority of their dishes are hand written and plastered against the walls. Therefore, do what my friends did and just ask your waitress what is good or what she recommends. (Otherwise, you’re never going to be able to figure out what they have that day.)
Below is just a smattering of what Ichiza has to offer. As mentioned, the menu was hard to piece together so I’m not sure what the official name of any of these dishes below are. I’m naming them based on what I’ve been able to dig up on the internet so, if you go, please forgive me if the waitress doesn’t understand what you’re talking about.
Fresh yellowtail and avocado tartare on a fried tortilla chip with rice, lettuce and pico de gallo. It’s not very Japanese and the combination sounds a little offbeat, but it works really well. I’d recommend ordering more than one order – this was my favorite of the night.
Fried Spanish Mackerel
Pop a bite-sized mackerel into your mouth, bones and all – *crunch!* The fried fish had the right amount of salt as is, so I didn’t bother using the accompanying spicy mayo. Who knew fish would be such a good late night snack?
I typically don’t eat shrimp whole but these shrimp are so small, you’re not ordering them for their meat. You are, however, ordering them for that salty, fried crunch you taste when chomping down on their thin shells. (They’re very similar to the fried Spanish mackerel, but I think I texturally like the mackerel slightly more.)
Chicken Gizzards with Green Beans
The gizzards were garlicky and well seasoned, although the texture was a little bit too chewy for my taste. (This was, however, my first time trying gizzards so I wouldn’t know what a well-cooked gizzard’s texture would taste like.)
The one truly traditional Japanese dish we ordered, their chicken don was everything it was supposed to be: Warm eggs, tender chicken, flavorful rice, hearty, comforting…
Bacon Wrapped Mochi
Its name says it all: Bacon wrapped mochi. Chewy white mochi, wrapped in salty, porky bacon. It tastes exactly what you’re imagining it tastes like. (Delicious!)
Deep Fried Bacon and Mozzarella Wrapped Zucchini
Mozzarella. Zucchini. Bacon. Fried crust. Mushroom sauce. I’m not sure how this concoction was created but it’s surprisingly good. I wouldn’t have guessed it was mozzarella if it wasn’t for someone telling me. The zucchini is subtle and is almost overpowered by the bacon (not that that’s necessarily a bad thing).
The kimchi pork was not bad, but not as strong as some of the other dishes we ordered. It’s like they stir-fried some kimchi and bulgogi and then poured it over a plate of cabbage. Although it was unimpressive while I was sober, I could see this being really tasty with a bowl of rice after a drunken night.
Tom Yum Roll
Just thinking of how to describe it throws me for a loop – both Vietnamese and Japanese, it doesn’t favor one influence over the other. I can only say it’s like the love child of a spring roll and a sushi roll.
Honey Toast with Vanilla Ice Cream
If I were to order this again, I’d order just one for myself, cut off all the crusts and just dig into the soft, chewy bread on the inside. The inner portion is like a sponge, absorbing all the honey and melted ice cream. Each bite is sugary, starchy goodness.
(How did I go so long without knowing about Ichiza? Why didn’t I go earlier?)
4355 Spring Mountain Rd
Las Vegas, NV 89102