Sin City is home to a lot of restaurants and bars, but there are tons of hidden gems that the majority of Las Vegans aren't unearthing. To help guide us to these potential discoveries, we've enlisted some of our city's food players to share their recommendations for a weekly feature dubbed Dining Confidential. Know a chef who wants to share some top dining spots? The tipline is open.
Kim Canteenwalla [Photo: Bill Milne]
Boy, does chef Kim Canteenwalla have his hands full. Already he has Society Cafe at Encore Las Vegas, plus he's opening Honey Salt at the end of October with his wife, restaurant consultant extraordinaire Elizabeth Blau, at Rampart Commons across from Boca Park. Here he shares his favorite places to dine when he's not running an empire.
Where do you enjoy eating when you're not working?
Like a lot of other chefs in town, I am always heading down to Monta on Spring Mountain. I've also really been enjoying Kabuto recently, right across the plaza. It's some of the best sushi in town. Jaleo has been a favorite since they've opened and continues to be a go to for me.
What dishes are most memorable?
At Monta, the takana rice and tonkotsu are my two staples, as well as the gyoza. Beyond the deep flavors and excellent quality of their ramen and broth, I love the customization options. My usual is corn, scallion, and egg, and the fact that you and a friend can order the same dish, but have totally different experiences depending on what you add and how you season it.
It's almost impossible to identify a favorite dish at Kabuto, because they're always changing the menu, but obviously I love their sushi. They strike an exceptional balance between the rice, fish, and minimal seasonings. In a city where a lot of sushi restaurants are defined by how much stuff they add to the fish, or surround it with, it is refreshing to go somewhere that focuses so intensely on the two core ingredients of the cuisine.
At Jaleo, I tend to be all over the place, but always make sure I get the lamb ribs. They are very simply prepared, with a good balance of juiciness, smoke and richness with minimal distractions. I also order the Brussel sprouts salad. In meals that can some way get a little carried away with rich and fried foods, the brightness of the salad is always a nice counterpoint. It's just a really basic combination of ingredients that lets each component really shine.
Why do you enjoy going there?
For me, a key aspect is that all of these restaurants are open- or at least partially open-kitchens. I love being able to see what the cooks are working on, and interact with them, and also I like seeing my food being prepared.
Beyond that, Monta's efficient but friendly service is a big draw. At Kabuto, the cleanliness, professionalism, and quality guarantee an exceptional experience, and Sushi Master Gen-san is a great guide. They bring their fish in every day, and if you don't get there early the little sad face stamp basically covers the whole menu. With Jaleo, it's all about trying a variety of dishes and having a great time with friends. Their format and ambiance let you interact easily and really encourage sharing. I'm also a big fan of Spanish wines and their list never disappoints.
As a whole, it's been really exciting to see Las Vegas' food scene continue to expand off the Strip. I think for a lot of us who have been here for a while and seen this city change so dramatically, there is a real renewed sense of ownership and excitement as chefs who came up in some of the casinos continue to branch out, and we continue to attract new chefs and concepts.
· All Coverage of Society Cafe [~ELV~]
· All Coverage of Honey Salt [~ELV~]
· All Coverage of Kim Canteenwalla [~ELV~]
· All Dining Confidentials [~ELV~]