Wednesday, January 15, 2014

All You Can Eat at Naka Sushi

In the Summerlin community of Las Vegas, there exists a popular locals’ sushi haven known as Naka Sushi. Nestled in a shopping center, the banner above the entrance that announces the All-You-Can-Eat special—with the low prices of $18.95 for lunch and $21.95 for dinner—may likely be what grabs your attention. Once you step inside, it’s the non-touristy vibe, the informal comfort that makes you feel right at home; this is a hangout where the unassuming Chef Naka presides over a long sushi bar and is greeted by regular patrons who know him by name, and who drop in not only to eat but to chat and have fun.

As the regulars know, and as the employees are quick to inform you over the phone, it’s best to dine at Naka Sushi during dinnertime, when specials like uni and sweet shrimp are included in the All-You-Can-Eat deal. There is even a board on the wall that features a “Dinner Only” list of unique items which, although available in the All-You-Can-Eat package, are limited to one order per customer per item. These include Tobiko Wasabi sushi, Masago Habanero sushi, Ika Sansai (I ordered this and it turned out to be seasoned squid salad served Gunkan-style), and fresh oysters and scallops.

I ordered the ama ebi and uni right away, and they were served to me together, the uni being particularly fresh and flavorful, which was surprising for an All-You-Can-Eat place, in my opinion. This is also the only sushi bar I’ve been to that did not customarily serve the deep-fried shrimp head with my order of ama ebi, although it’s available upon request, or by itself, according to the menu on the wall.

For many years, and for reasons unknown, Las Vegas was home to a panoply of sushi bars that featured the “Yum Yum Roll,” usually consisting of a mixture of scallops, mayonnaise and imitation crab. Hamada of Japan on Flamingo Road, which I heard has recently closed down, offered the sweetest version of the Yum Yum, particularly because they used minced imitation crab sticks instead of the imitation snow crab mix, and because whenever I ordered it as a hand roll, it would be presented to me as a veritable ice cream cone, overflowing with lacy, mayonnaise-imbued strands of imitation crab and chunks of scallop. Naka Sushi’s version was reminiscent of the good ol’ days of the Yum Yum Roll, although the hand roll here is smaller, filled with notably more imitation crab than scallop, and uses the imitation snow crab mix (although you could probably request that it be made with the crab sticks instead, as it is visible through the glass case on the sushi bar).

Just for fun, and because it sounded so unusual, I ordered the Brian Roll, which is an imitation crab and jalapeno roll topped with tempura-fried banana, pink soy paper and eel sauce. (The a-la-carte price for this roll, as for most of their special rolls, is $9.95.) The sweetness of eel sauce normally makes it go very well with anything tempura-fried; on top of fried banana, which is already naturally sweet, it becomes confectionery, delightfully dessert-like. The spicy jalapeno adds a kick to the sweetness of it all.

Lastly, I requested a hand roll of plum sauce and asked that Chef Naka serve it with shiso instead of cucumber. The sour of plum sauce, which always seems to be enhanced by shiso leaf, topped off my meal perfectly, and I relished it with gusto.

At Naka Sushi, those who enjoy flavored sake can choose from apple, raspberry or lychee-white peach. For those with sushi eaters in training, kids 8 years old and under can enjoy the All-You-Can-Eat sushi special for only $9.95.

Naka Sushi
8540 W. Lake Mead Blvd., Las Vegas

No comments :