Tip-Top Tonkatsu (Gesundheit!), Plus Sweet Holiday Treats



When I lived in Japan, I frequented a Tokyo restaurant, Tonki, where the specialty is tonkatsu, a breaded, fried pork cutlet eaten with piquant sauce. The dish is simple, but when done correctly, sublime. Now, Las Vegas has a restaurant to equal Tokyo’s top tonkatsu places.

You may not notice Tonkatsu Kiyoshi if you drive by the mini mall where it stands (7780 S. Jones Blvd., Suite 103, 837-7300). This is a simple place, and partially hidden, but the parking spaces that front it are usually full, and there is invariably a wait for tables during the lunch hour.

That small ceramic bowl with sharp ridges inside is a suribachi. It’s used to mix whole sesame seeds into your Worcestershire-flavored tonki sauce, a thick brown sludge that sits in a huge bowl on your table. Use the wooden pestle to crush the seeds into a pulp. The resulting sauce is magically delicious with these fried slabs of pork.

Rice, miso soup and Japanese pickles accompany meals here, but the kitchen also does sides, including edamame, creamy Japanese-style potato salad and the fried chunks of chicken called kara-age. But you’re here for that panko-crusted meat, one more glorious float in the parade of top Japanese dishes in Sin City.

If you’re wondering where James Beard Award-winning chef Luciano Pellegrini landed after Piero Selvaggio Valentino closed, there is good news. The chef now has a gelato factory, Dolce Vita Gelato, where he’s making 70 flavors, many seasonal, among them pumpkin pie, caramel turtle and Sicilian cassata. “Looch,” as we know him, is making them from top ingredients in small batches. They are simply the best ice creams in town—denser than the premium store-bought stuff, and more flavorful. Pellegrini’s gelati are available at Espressamente Illy, Tao and Lavo, and at the new Sugar Factory in Town Square.

Meanwhile, the wonderful Megan Romano of Chocolate & Spice Bakery (7923 W. Sahara Ave., Suites 8-9, 527-7772) is making an array of 11-inch holiday pies for $22, among them bourbon pecan and granny Smith apple. She’s also doing festive gift boxes filled with her candies, cookies, sauces, fruits and pastries, starting with Bronze ($35) all the way up to Platinum ($200).

Finally, the peerless two-Michelin-starred Guy Savoy was in town two weeks ago to be inducted into the American Gaming Association’s Hall of Fame, and I was lucky enough to catch him in his eponymous Caesars Palace restaurant (731-7110). White truffles are in season, so he treated me to a bowl of his amazing pumpkin soup, served from a carved pumpkin—rich, velvety and blanketed with white truffles. I also tasted a quail dish with celery and hazelnuts, and a marmite of venison. Man, this can be the best job in the world at times.

Hungry, yet?

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