(Feel free to skip the cathartic narrative and scroll down to the food. I know I would.)
The morning after a much-too-long night at a surprisingly friendly bar called "PBR Rock Bar," which is right on the Vegas strip across from the Cosmopolitan, with an outdoor bar I should add, all I wanted was sushi. Comforting, salty, fatty--sushi.
We were heading to the largely unexceptional Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay when I saw Kumi, right off the casino floor--a restaurant that was on my list of places to consider. It was open, inviting, and empty. I could picture myself right there at the bar, enjoying a crisp white and fatty tuna. But it was only 11.30, and we figured we could check out Bodies at the neighboring Luxor before lunch.
After waiting some time for the tram to get to the Luxor, we decided to bail, and get some sushi. But, we thought we'd head back up the strip to Blue Ribbon, since it was only 11.45. We enjoyed Blue Ribbon a few nights before, and thought it would be perfect for a casual sushi lunch. Off we went to the Cosmopolitan, by $20 cab.
Finally at the Cosmopolitan, we run up the escalator, barely able to contain our excitement and hunger, and we're met with Blue Ribbon's closed doors. The fucking place isn't open for lunch. We turn around to go to Comme Ca, which has a fine burger, and they're closed too. WTF? OK, now what. I figured we could go downstairs and grab a burger at Holsteins. Well bloody hell, the place is packed, and that's a 20 minute wait. We're now flustered, and blood sugar levels are dipping, and patience is running thin.
The missus said something about Sushi Roku. Said she heard it was pretty good. And it's at Caesars. At this point I didn't want to admit defeat by going back to Mandalay Bay (the only sure bet in this game), so I (smartly, this time, if you can believe it) call to confirm that they are open, and back in a cab to Caesars it is.
We're dropped off at Caesars, $20 poorer, and try to find a map to tell us where this restaurant is. I review the map and don't see Sushi Roku, but I see Nobu! I'll take Nobu in a pinch any day. We run down to Nobu, which is apparently in the Nobu Hotel, which is a hotel within a hotel I suppose. I ask the nice people if this is where Nobu the restaurant is, and they say "yes!" I ask if it's open, and they say "no!" Well fuck me, back to the map to find Roku. Can't find it. It's not on the map.
I call them back and they tell me they're in the Forum Shops at Caesars. If you're not familiar with it, The Forum Shops at Caesars is a largely depressing mall with depressing people looking at stuff they can't afford, and at the same time getting in my damned way. I'm running around the Forum, looking for a map, trying to figure out where the hell I am in relation to the restaurant, and end up backtracking. Twice. And did I mention there are hundreds of meandering people in my way?
I finally get my bearings. Now I'm walking full steam, not letting anything stop me. Some wandering d-bag is walking right toward me (and the fountain which I'm walking next to), looking up at the painted clouds on the ceiling as if it's the Sistine Chapel, like some perfect version of a dopey clueless tourist sent to Earth specifically to annoy me. I'm watching him, waiting for him to come back to reality, see me, and alter his course. But no. He doesn't. When this lummox gets within 2 feet of my airspace, I let out a quite loud and direct "BRO!" This 6'2" fucking guy recoiled and almost fell over himself clearing my right-of-way. "Sorry, sorry," he stuttered, stumbling away, aimlessly. I didn't have time to respond. I saved him from walking into the fountain, the big goofy fucker, and that was enough.
Finally get to Roku, on the third floor of this dreary-ass mall, and it's kinda not very nice at all. Sort of unkempt. Not the sexy sleek place that you see on their website. But fuck it, we're hungry, and this is going to be it. I ask to be seated in the large main room, which is empty other than 1 large table. At least the room has windows and a nice view of the strip rather than a view of the mall. Vegas restaurants with views are very rare indeed.
I ordered a cocktail, as I am wont to. I could have used something a bit more fruity than boozy, but I'm a sucker for gin and cucumber. This damned gin cocktail was pretty potent. It would have been ideal for pre-dinner, but for what amounted to a late breakfast, it was a bit much. I soldiered on, though, and then ordered a Riesling. Much better.
Some people reach for the Taylor ham, egg, and cheese on a hard roll (I'm already enjoying how this will mean nothing to the people reading this who aren't from New Jersey) when they want something to soothe a hangover. I reach for a spicy tuna hand roll. The spicy tuna hand roll at Roku did not disappoint. You know when you get to the bottom of the hand roll, and there's nothing but rice? That's so annoying. One requirement of a good, solid roll, is that there is fish all the way to the bottom. There was so much fish in this one that the fish squirted out the bottom like blended tuna out of a piping bag. Fuck yeah.
We also had a tuna sashimi dish. Sesame oil and soy sauce, if memory serves. This was a fun and excellent dish. Nothing too challenging on this particular morning. Just plop those slabs of tuna right on the tongue, and things get better.
I'd never had fish on crispy rice, but I really enjoyed the texture and flavor of the rice. Like little toasted rice cakes. A nice alternative to plain white rice. I'll be looking out for this treatment going forward.
The "Shima Roll" turned out to be the most interesting of all the dishes, and more interesting than I was expecting. "Shrimp wrapped spicy tuna, cilantro, avocado." I didn't give this one too much thought when I ordered it, but it turned out to be a very sexy and delicious combination of a Vietnamese summer roll and a tuna roll. Spicy tuna/cucumber/nori, wrapped with rice paper, cilantro, shrimp, and a dab of sriracha. I'd eat this today and every day. Seriously, the best of both worlds. Ain't that nice?
The food and service were quite good at Roku. I suspect the place looks better at night, when the lights of the strip are lighting up the windows, and the restaurant's decor has more of a chance to shine (rather than sitting starkly in the sun). I can't say I'd rush to go back here, unless, of course, it's lunchtime, I'm hungover, and I'm nowhere near Mandalay Bay. If that's the case, stay the fuck out of my way, bro.
Also, did I mention that from this lunch, we took a cab to the Paris to have a cocktail at Gordon Ramsay's Steak...and it was closed?
Sushi Roku : Somewhere the fuck in the Forum Shops at Caesars : Las Vegas, NV : 702.733.7373