No ethnic cuisine offered in Las Vegas is as diverse as our selection of Japanese restaurants. We have izakayas, robata grills, sushi bars, teppanyaki houses, fusion spots, curry restaurants and ramen shops just to name a few. And yet, every few months I walk into a new Japanese restaurant that’s doing things unlike any of the others. Case in point: Fish ’N’ Bowl, a tiny spot in a strip mall on the southwest side of town. It isn’t that chef Howard Choi (a veteran of RM Seafood, among other spots) is re-inventing the wheel in what is, essentially, a sushi restaurant. But he is putting enough creative twists on his cuisine to make the menu stand out from the rest.
That said, the proffered menu at Fish ’N’ Bowl is just a starting point. Nearly half the dishes in Choi’s repertoire appear on various chalkboards and other signs scattered throughout the dining room. Options start with basic sushi and sashimi made from high quality fish and expertly cut. But you’ll also find five types of poke tacos, hot and cold appetizers, various flavors of edamame, and several rice bowl and salad bowls.
One of the more interesting dishes, a trio of uni preparations, is listed on a sign behind the sushi bar. It features the sea urchin on a spoon, in a dumpling and in a hand roll. The spoon version is sadly overshadowed by a heavy dose of lemon juice and a bit of grated wasabi. That’s a shame, especially since uni is most delicately flavored during the cold-weather months that are drawing to a close, and this preparation fails to highlight that fact. The chef’s use of it in the fried dumpling and the roll, however, is spot on, truly showcasing its natural citrus-tinged briny flavor.
Of the rice bowls, I’ve had the Double E, made with eel and shredded sweet egg. The rice was cooked to perfection, and the seafood was lean and tasty. Other excellent dishes include crispy-but-chewy rice cakes, which can be topped with tuna, yellowtail or salmon tartare and then adorned with avocado and jalapeño slices.
But what truly sets Fish ’N’ Bowl apart from other sushi restaurants, are the rice-free rolls. I’m generally not a fan of Americanized sushi rolls, with multiple types of fish, assorted sauces and all of those other bells and whistles. But I know many people love them. And unlike nigiri fans such as myself, who can eliminate the rice and just have sashimi, fans of those rolls are usually hard-pressed to find an alternative if they’re looking to cut back on rice. Fish ’N’ Bowl, however, employs some interesting techniques to do just that. The Warm Springs, for example, consists of soft-shell crab, spicy tuna, spicy crab, shrimp tempura and avocado wrapped in thin translucent rice paper and topped with a trio of sauces. The Rock ’N’ Roll wraps cucumber skin around tuna, salmon, snapper, crab stick and avocado. And even more creatively, in the Tuna Flower the chef uses slices of tuna as the wrapper around a filling of spicy crab, spicy scallop and pomegranate molasses. It’s almost more beautiful than it is delicious. Of course, those who want the familiar rolls of rice and nori have plenty of options as well.
With a diverse menu, high-quality product and an extremely friendly staff, Fish ’N’ Bowl is yet another nice addition to our city’s Japanese cuisine offerings. And if you save room for dessert, make sure to walk a few doors down to Suzuya Pastries & Crepes, which happens to be one of my favorite local bakeries.
Al’s Menu Picks
- Uni trio ($15)
- Double E bowl ($9.50)
- crispy rice with yellowtail ($5.50)
Fish ’N’ Bowl
7225 S. Durango Rd., 702-739-3474. Open for lunch and dinner, 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Sun-Mon; 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Fri-Sat. Dinner for two, $20–$50.