Kabuto in Las Vegas was consistently good for years. I have never had a disappointing meal there. In fact, despite travelling all over the world and having sushi at numerous places considered the best, including Japan and NYC, I always considered Kabuto THE best. It was unique. It is located in a desert after all. It should not have the amazing sushi it did. The price for what you received was spectacular. The interior was simplistic yet elegant. When someone asked me where to eat in Vegas, or even what I thought were the best restaurants in the world, Kabuto always came top of mind…until now. My recent dinner there was disappointing.
Lets start with the booking process. It is almost impossible to book now. I believe due to covid, they have restricted their capacity. I tried almost weekly and finally got one spot, reluctantly, at 5:45PM which is too early for me (“but hey, its Kabuto” I thought, “so I will take it”).
The downhill experience started upon arrival. I thought I had booked and confirmed a seat at the sushi bar. They insisted I booked at table. To me, omakase needs to be at the sushi counter. Despite there being lots of room at the bar, they refused my request to sit there.
The next disappointment came when the menu arrived. They used to have an option to have only nigiri. To me, sushi is all about the rice. Historically, Kabuto had perfected the ratio of rice to fish, the right amount of seasoning, and the proper serving temperature. In addition, Kabuto was where I realized the importance of wasabi in sushi. They put the right amount of REAL wasabi on each piece, such that it came out at the end of each bite, in just the right way. It was an eye opening moment. All of this is gone now. They have one omakase menu which you must order from, and has hot food on it! I don’t want hot food, or sashimi when I am at Kabuto. I want the fish with rice, and I want to eat what the place has mastered (which is not hot food).
The restaurant specializes in flying in the best seafood for the perfect sushi. I wanted them to focus on this. Why they moved away from this is a mystery to me. Anyway, they still provide a daily fresh sheet which was a relief to see. You can still add nigiri of your choice to your meal, after the omakase portion.
The meal started with the amuse, sashimi and was followed by the warm dishes. None were mind blowing.
After reluctantly eating my way through the first part of the menu, we finally came to the main event. The nigiri! This is where the biggest disappointment set in. The nigiri is no longer perfect. The rice lacked seasoning and that perfect hit of wasabi. The fish no longer full of umami. It was not bad, but its no longer THE best.
The handroll was very disappointing. Kabuto used to take great pride in where they sourced their seaweed and was seasoned well. The chef would make sure you ate it while crispy. Unfortunately, what they served was a soggy, unseasoned roll.
The miso at the end lacked depth in the dashi broth. Even the shrimp head could not save it.
After many many many years of this being one of my favorite restaurants in the world, and having introduced many to its wonders, sadly, it no longer occupies this top spot for me. I probably would not return. Its not bad, but going from perfection to not bad is tough.