I have two quick shares that were new positive experiences for me:
First, traditional Korean Barbeque is fantastic. Hobak in Las Vegas is off the strip and their food is like a tapas cornucopia of Korean delicacies. Kim Chi, bean sprouts, salad, onions and jalapenos, all types of sauces, bok choy, and a wide variety of meats are presented on every surface of the table. The overflow of food feels overly indulgent, but every bite quickly removes one of the side dishes. Like an adult version of “Hungry Hungry Hippo,” the plates disappear in order suggested by our host/waiter/chef. Suffice it to say: I am a fan.
Second, I experienced for the first-time traditional Japanese dining. The exterior door is windowless and painted black. There are no obvious ways to look inside. The only evidence of the restaurant is the sign above that reads “Kabuto.” Located in a strip mall about 2 miles North West of the strip, Kabuto is pressed between neon Asian Foot Massage advertisements and a loud Asian deli. Only about 15 feet wide and maybe 20 feet deep, Kabuto hides in contrast from its surroundings. Opening the door, the interior is stark and quiet. Four Japanese chefs in white aprons and white, traditional circular hats stand behind the sushi counter and greet me in Japanese. I don’t know any Japanese. I feel guilty and perhaps like my manners or dress are not sufficiently respectful of the setting, and so I watch with care the experienced patrons to my right and left for guidance. The slightly bowed waitress encourages me inside. Like a madam with an 18-year-old virgin, my hostess/waitress urges me forward. Her wide smile and “come hither” wave provides my seat at the sushi bar. Intimidated and excited, I sit down. Comfort returns to my body as my waitress (or as I refer to her in my head: my “Safety Blanket”) patiently explains the process and care I am going to experience. The exacting standards for the food, the drinks, the place settings, the seats, the presentation, the order of tastes, and the ambiance are a little overwhelming, but motivating. Very few restaurants (or businesses) take seriously such attention to detail. I am in the first seating at Kabuto. (They have a 6pm and an 8:30pm seating.) with 10 others. The entire restaurant seats a maximum of sixteen. The meal is approached best “Omakase”. I do not order anything. The chefs and waitress create a choreographed dance of sushi, sake, cooked food, and other drinks that make it feel like consumable theater.
14 courses later, I leave thoroughly impressed and oddly humbled. It is not often that I get to find a new experience, but I savor those energizing moments. If you want an idea of the experience, watch “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” on Netflix / Amazon. If you want the real thing, go to Kabuto.