Hello, Chanko Shabu and Izakaya in Las Vegas, Nevada

While my friend Dani was in town this past weekend, she had a list of places she wanted to visit, one of which included a nice restaurant in Chinatown. Unfortunately, it was an extremely popular spot with walk-ins only and the wait time was about two hours, so instead, we drove a mile west and went to Chanko Shabu and Izakaya.

Overall, my experience was pretty “meh,” with the good dishes being counteracted by the bad dishes.

Dani ordered shabu-shabu with spicy pork broth, Mugifuji pork, assorted vegetables, garlic chili, and house special sauce. I tried some of her meat and vegetables, and it was my second favorite dish of the meal.

I usually don’t like all-you-can-eat “cook your own food” restaurants because the service is (sometimes, intentionally) slow so they limit the amount of food you end up being able to eat. However, because this was an à la carte experience unlike many other shabu-shabu restaurants, that downside wasn’t relevant. The upside, however, was relevant, because restaurant food often comes out too salty, so by being able to cook the meat ourselves, we were able to limit the saltiness and allow the rich flavor of the meat to stand out.

Something we ordered that is not pictured here was Japanese fried oysters with tartar sauce, from the agemono menu. They were fairly traditional and straightforward, and were exactly what you’d expect from fried oysters.

Similarly, I also ordered some baked green mussels from their hot appetizer menu, which were also exactly what you’d expect from baked green mussels.

My next dish was tako wasabi, i.e., raw octopus. This tasted great and the texture of the octopus was very satisfying, but I think they overdid it a bit with the wasabi sauce, because my nose was stinging every time I took a bite. I took some of Dani’s rice to mitigate some of it, which made it taste a lot better, but the intensity was still pretty strong.

Next up was a quarter dozen of Pacific oyster with ponzu, scallion, wasabi, and ikura. It wasn’t anything particularly revolutionary or orgasmic, but the portion size of each piece was pleasantly large and they tasted straightforward and refreshing, which made it my favorite dish of the meal.

I also ordered two plates of kushiyaki. I wanted to get an A5 wagyu skewer, but they said they did not have any left, so I decided to try yakitori instead, which is a mixture of chicken and vegetables. I received two skewers, one of which was saliva-suckingly dry, and for the other, it tasted like they some­how managed to put more chicken fat than actual chicken on the skewers.

I also got an Angus beef skewer. I originally didn’t get the dish when I first ordered it, so I asked about the missing plate, and the waitress brought it out near the end of our meal. I only got one skewer instead of two like I did with the chicken, but I didn’t bother asking about it, because it was horrible.

The meat was cooked beyond well-done so it was unchewably tough, it had a very gamey smell to it, and the only way to make it remotely palatable was to dunk it into Dani’s shabu-shabu broth to attempt to tenderize it a bit.

I wouldn’t necessarily say the restaurant was high-end, but the pricing wasn’t exactly on the cheap end either. The shabu-shabu was nice, and the raw dishes weren’t bad, but because of the hard misses with the quality of the skewers, I can’t really recommend this restaurant.