Japanese food is far more than sushi; in fact, our best Japanese restaurant serves no sushi at all. Chef Mitsuo Endo uses bincho-tan, special charcoal imported from Japan, to grill and smoke many of the delicacies he serves robata-yaki-style—cooked on a tiny hibachi in the back kitchen.

After three years, nobody even asks for sushi anymore. And Endo’s had to expand his restaurant, which now features small private rooms for intimate dining. There is still the small counter where you’ll often find local chefs late at night after they’ve finished a shift.

The delicacies abound here, and they change daily. Popular choices include ayu, a trout-like fish from Japan’s Nagano Prefecture, is served whole with skin on, simply brushed with sea salt. And the kid-food treat soboro gohan is a giant bowl of rice topped with ground chicken, shredded cooked egg and lusty pickles.

You can eat reasonably well here for a fraction of what you’d pay at a top Strip restaurant, but the multicourse kaiseki, ordered in advance at $150 per person, is a meal you’ll never forget.

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Gyoza, Monta

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Gyoza, Monta

This bustling noodle shop’s gyoza, or hand-made dumplings, take a little extra time, so when you order, the waitress will immediately shout over your shoulder to the kitchen that you’d like some. The gyoza are made in-house daily with pork and vegetables, then pan-fried for a nice crust on the outside. Make your own dipping sauce from the accoutrements in front of you: soy sauce, a little vinegar and a little chili oil or shichimi seven spice. $5, 5030 Spring Mountain Road, Suite 6, 367-4600.