Saturday, August 13, 2011

JAPONAIS Restaurant in The Mirage Resort on the Las Vegas Strip takes guests on a Culinary journey featureing a Robata Grill , Sushi and Sashimi that is sure to please

The Mirage Resort in Las Vegas  is home to many fine restaurants, among those is Japonais, an Asian themed restaurant that offers patrons extensive dining options.  One of those options is the Robata Grill which is located in the middle of this sleek, yet comfortable, restaurant. 
We had the delight of trying their eleven course Robata signature tasting menu.  Robata grilling is a popular method of cooking in Japan and has become popular worldwide.

  In Japanese, ro means fireplace and bata means around or surrounding, so robata describes a meal prepared around the fire.  Japonais embraces the ancient tradition of robata with all the modern flair and culinary ambiance. 

The chef stands behind a horseshoe-shaped counter, with the charcoal grill in front of him.  Diners can chose from dozens of offerings including:  Kobe beef, chicken, and vegetables.  Embracing robata origins, the grilled skewers are presented to the diner on a wooden paddle.  Robata style also known robatayaki originated hundreds of years ago amongst Japanese fishermen.

Chef de Cuisine Sean Collins
  By grilling their catch on the boat fishermen created communal dining amongst themselves by passing food from boat to boat on wooden oars.  Chef, Sean Collins, kept in true tradition with passing us sumptuous mounds of grilled fish and meats in the same manner as the ancient Japanese fishermen.  Each robata course was grilled to perfection and served with a expertly selected Sake.  We also were able to enjoy several sushi dishes at the end of “ Robata” Grilling.

We started our Robata journey with a Chilean Sea Bass with a miso soy marinated with shishito peppers.  The delicate saltiness of the sauce and the spiciness of the peppers mingled perfectly with the precisely cooked smokey, yet firm Chilean sea bass. 
Chilean Sea Bass , Shishito Peppers
 The fish was placed on a traditional skewer, as the other courses were also presented in the same manner as according to Robata tradition.  It was a most satisfying way to begin the evening. Along with our tender sea bass, we were presented one of three Sakes for the evening’s pairings. 

A Dassai 50, Junmai Ginjo, Yamaguchi, was well balance, light, and clean which held a little sweetness, with some tropical notes. This Sake was a good accompaniment to the fish.

The second and third course: an Australian Rock Lobster with smoked sea salt and drawn butter and Asparagus with maldon sea salt . In Robata cooking, the chef will turn every skewered item by hand, which can be labor intensive.
Australian Rock Lobster , Asparagus with Maldon Sea Salt
The chef must constantly hover over each order to keep everything evenly and precisely cooked.  We watched Chef gingerly cook the lobster tails over the wood burning Robata grill, turning each Lobster tail amongst the delicate asparagus spears insuring grilled perfection.

Lobster is often easily overcooked, but this time we were served plump juicy morsels with a hint of sea salt.  Of course, when fresh drawn butter is applied, we experienced the true bounty of the sea. The asparagus was slightly tender, yet slightly firm.  Again, we sipped on the Dassai 50, which went well with sea food dishes.

 The Kurbota Pork Loin was an evening favorite.  This ohba marinated with shaved Tokyo negi, with hot mustard and ponzu sauce, was juicy, very flavorful, with the hint of smokiness.
Kurobuta Pork Loin
The hot mustard and ponzu sauce kicked up the flavors even more, with a little “punch” of heat.   With the meat courses, we were served a SA Ichi, Junmai Ginjo, Yamanashi. This well balanced, smooth, sake was a excellent, more full bodied pairing with the denser meats.  We enjoyed this with all 3 meat courses.

Next off the grill was a lovely Spicy chicken, shiso marinated chicken thigh, which contained all the correct amount of grilled smoky richness. And the last dish hot off the Robata Grill was a mouthwatering  Togarashi Skirt Steak with shishito peppers, pearl onions and house smoked ketchup.
Togarashi Skirt Steak  , house made smoked ketchup

This skirt steak was another fine example of perfect “Robata” hand grilling.  With the thin meat delicately cooked to mouth watering tenderness.

After enjoying a great Robata experience off the grill   it was now time for  “The Rock”. This   thinly sliced new York strip steak cooked on a hot rock with steamy perfection. If you have never had the experience of cooking your own meat on a extremely hot, white hot rock, this is good way to begin. 
Marinated New York Strip Steak for " The Rock "
 The server brought us “the rock”, presented with caution in mind.  We were served thinly sliced steak which we placed upon the rock to sizzle and cook before us in a matter of seconds.  The meat is so thin that it cooks very quickly but one can easily eat it as soon as it is finished. 

 It is a fun and interesting way to enjoy the dining experience which dates back to ancient times when fishermen would leave stones in the fire to heat and then use those stones as a method of cooking their catch at high temperatures.  We were glad that we were able to enjoy this experience in the modern setting of Japonais.
Steak cooking on "The Rock"

A yet another example of Japanese culinary artistry is Sashimi . The Bin Cho, is marinated baby tuna sliced sashimi style with arugula and shaved daikon in citrus vinaigrette. 
Bin Cho , Marinated baby Tuna Sashimi
This dish was the best presentation of the evening.  The tuna was expertly rolled into fan-like structures, and then garnished in a most pleasing and artistic manner.  Now we have started with the sushi courses.  The tuna was tender and meaty and the spiciness of both the daikon and the arugula combined well with the warm flavors of the citrus vinaigrette.

King Crab is always a crowd favorite and Japonais Version is one that we will remember for Kani Nigiri a spicy baked king crab for its simplicity of flavors.

Kani Nigiri , Spicy Baked King Crab

Spicy Mono Octopus Roll
Of course we had  to have Sushi as well and the Sushi Chefs did not disappoint .Their creation  of Spicy Mono which is  a spicy octopus roll topped with spicy tuna tartare and sweet unagi sauce was a nice spicy treat with layers of flavors wrapped in each roll.   After completing our tenth course, can we possibly eat another bite?  With these rolls, we made room!

And finally the dessert which was a perfect end to hours of incredible dishes . Apple Toban Yaki, Michigan red and gold apples with honey vanilla ice cream served in a hot clay pot. 
Apple Toban Yaki

This scrumptious dessert of delicately cut apples, with the richness of the ice cream paired well with our final Sake; “Atago No Matsu” also know as waiting love.  We truly felt the love with each amazing bite and sip of this Honzo, Miyagi, and This Sake had a hit of bananas which added a tropical quality to the dessert. 

The dessert and the Sake provided a light but satisfying way to end our eleven course journey.
Japonais Signature Cocktail

For those who would like to indulge in cultural and culinary dining experience try the Robata Japanese Grill located in the Mirage Hotel, Las Vegas,
Skewered and grilled over Japanese Charcoal - 7 Days a Week from 3:00pm to kitchen close

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