We hop into a taxi and get out of the Las Vegas Strip to Mountain Spring Road. The taxi turns into a strip mall with many visible signs of other Japanese and Korean restaurants, but where is Kabuto? We finally find it- the only discreet restaurant there without obvious signage but with a minimalist facade. We step inside just in time for our dinner reservation. There is a 10-seater counter and 3 or 4 tables. Kabuto instantly reminds us of sushi restaurants in Japan: light colored Japanese wood is always the theme and a single large ikebana (Japanese flower arrangement) takes center stage by the wall in the otherwise uncluttered interior.

Gen-san, the owner and head sushi chef, takes pride in the fish varieties he has to offer that differ daily. Working with 2 younger assistants, Gen-san takes sushi as a serious form of craft while maintaining a humble and smiley interaction with guests. Edomae sushi is the focus here and that means the guest sees the sushi prepared in front of him or her. After a piece of nigiri is prepared, the chef places it on the plate in front of the guest who proceeds to pick it up and eat it. The process is repeated for the next type of nigiri served. This ritual of eating sushi is what we experinced in Japan and we applaud Gen-san for recreating this true authentic experience.

The menu here is omakase only (chef's choice) with 3 pricing options and that is the only decision we have to make when ordering. All options include nigiri sushi. We decide on Yoroi ($85/pp) that also sashimi and grilled items. Fish selections vary daily depending on that day's delivery. Placed on the counter table in between us is a paper list of the fish selection available that day. The list is placed on the table throughout the meal so that each guest can refer to it throughout the meal. On the list, the Japanese names of the fish is on the left column and the corresponding English names are on the right column. Given the very wide and unique selection of fish available on a day, it is not possible to have every type of fish on the list to be on the omakase menu. Towards the end of the meal, however, guests will be asked if they would like to add on additional items from the list as ala carte (we highly recommend you do that to try the other unique fish available).

Each guest is served an apperitif- a very light and refreshing California mandarin sake, homemade by Gen-san, that is very low in alcohol content at 2%. The starter of melt-in-the-mouth blue fin tuna marinated with special soy sauce is only a smidge indication of the freshness of fish at Kabuto.

When it's time for the highlight of the meal i.e. nigiri sushi, each of us gets a plate placed in front of us with some gari (pickled ginger) on the side. Then, Gen-san asks if we are ready for sushi. Oh yes, we tell him. With his swift and experienced fingers, he methodically shapes the rice and puts a dab of wasabi on the rice. He then carefully places a slice of fish over the rice before gently brushing a thin layer of soy sauce over the fish. Finally he places the piece of nigiri on the plate, one on each of our plates already set in front of us. We pick it up and eat it right away. Gen-san proceeds to make the next nigiri for the next type of fish and the process repeats.


The variety of sushi we enjoyed as part of the omakase include aona (yellow grouper), houbou (gurnard), blue fin tuna from Spain, chu-toro (medium fatty tuna), ikura on rice, uni (sea urchin) from Catalina Island, anago (sea eel), and gyoku (sweet omelet). After our final piece of nigiri on the omakase set, Gen-san asks "Would you like more sushi?". We gloss over the paper list of fish selection for that day and see other varieties that we have yet to try. We ask Gen-san for recommendations and then add two ala carte items: live botan ebi (shrimp) and chikamekintoki (long finned bull eye). With all the unique fish that we have never tried and let alone heard of, no wonder Kabuto presents a list of the daily selection for each guests to keep and refer to throughout the meal. A couple sitting next to us continues to add on ala carte items one after another. The man looking a tad bit embarrassed, turns to T and says "We eat a lot." "Oh no worries, I don't blame you...the sushi is so good," T replies. The man then says again, "The uni is the best we've had. My girlfriend says it changed her life." Wow, that's big.

After our nigiri experience, the sous chef makes a negi chu-toro hand roll (medium fatty tuna with scallions) and hands one to each of us while holding the roll in his hand. We stretch out an arm to take our hand roll from his hand and start eating it. Miso soup is served and the day's choice is either shrimp head or fish with bones in the soup. We end the meal with housemade mochi ice-cream by their Japanese pastry chef. As we are about to start eating the pieces of vanilla, matcha, and mango mochi ice-cream, Gen-san lifts up his head and smilingly says, "Made from Japanese sugar. So not too sweet."

We leave Kabuto and hop into a taxi back to the Strip feeling so excited that we've discovered a place that so closely reflects our experience in Japan. T says "That is the best sushi I've had outside of Japan." He's right.

Note: Get counter seating if possible for the full experience. Since our first visit, we have returned for a second time and the fish selection of the day was very much different from our first visit. Unique fish types on our second visit included kamashita (kamashita fatty tuna), wakaremi (triangle), renko-tai (deep sea porgy).

5040 W Spring Mountain Road
Las Vegas, NV 89146

Reservations are highly recommended


Four Seasons Las Vegas

Anyone looking for a lovely 5-star hotel experience in Las Vegas without the hustle and bustle of a typical hotel on the Strip, Four Seasons is the answer. Four Seasons and Mandarin Oriental are purportedly the only true 5-star hotels on the Strip and this time we decide to give Four Seasons a try. The property is located on the top floors of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and to be precise, Four Seasons occupies floors 35-39 of the Mandalay Bay. There is no indication of the presence of Four Seasons when walking or driving along the Strip and there is no towering signage for the hotel like one would expect of every hotel on the Strip clamoring for grandeur and attention. Perhaps the hotel is deliberately aiming for an understatement. Just as the taxi pulls into hotel driveway, we see the driveway entrance signage of the Four Seasons hotel. The hotel has it own separate entrance, concierge, taxi drop-off, lobby, and elevators from the Mandalay Bay. The Four Seasons elevators will take you straight to floors 35-39, lobby (where the pool is), and the C level (here you conveniently connect to Mandalay Bay).

The hotel is tranquil and serene. It does not have a casino which also means that it is a non-smoking hotel unlike other casino hotel resorts. If you're looking for a tranquil change from the usual Las Vegas hotels, Four Seasons offers a reprieve. As expected, there are no spring-breakers here but the working professional crowd. This particular Four Seasons in Las Vegas aims to be family-friendly; we spot many families with kids but do not feel that the kids here take away the adult experience at the pool area which many people look for when coming to Las Vegas.

The pool is small but it is never completely full during our pool visits so pool chairs are usually always available. The pool itself offers a 5-star experience to hotel guests. We walk into the pool area, the attendant looks up our room number and name in the system. He grabs some towels for us and escorts us to the section we would like to relax at. He then sets up the pool wicker chairs for us and lines them with the towel chair covers. He comes back a few minutes later with a pitcher of ice water and plastic cups. One day, it is strawberry-flavored water and on another, it is lemon-flavored. At random times, one of the attendants walks around the pool area and offers complimentary mini ice treats to help the guests keep cool. On one day it is a frozen sliced pineapple on a stick; on another day it is a taste of peach smoothie. Sunscreen and newspapers are also provided at one of the water stations. An attendant comes by and asks if we would like some Evian spritz to be sprayed onto our faces to help us keep cool. Yes, please!

One of the plus points is that guests at the Four Seasons are allowed to use Mandalay Bay's pool facilities (but not the reverse). Moorea Beach Club (topless optional) over at Mandalay Bay is just a few feet away from the Four Seasons pool.

In true Four Seasons style, the hotel offers turndown service every evening. Complimentary shoe shine is also offered. Our room is clean and we enjoy the fluffy pillows. Admittedly, I'm a tad bit disappointed that this location does not offer L'Occitane toiletries like the other Four Seasons hotels but I end up really enjoying the scent of the toiletries brand offered here.

We order room service for breakfast one day- just a simple bread basket and soft boiled eggs- and they arrive timely. The weekend-only brunch buffet spread at The Verandah cafe is not as elaborate as the Wynn or Bellagio, but it is more than adequate with its selections of charcuterie, pastries, made-to-order omelet station, hot food, doughnut station, and a make-your-own Bloody Mary station. I'm an instant fan of the house-made peanut butter for my toast. After we recharge ourselves at breakfast, it is pool time again.

Wonderful 5-star experience all around and looking forward to return.