Khotan Khotan came on the scene last year when Social House moved out and this Asian bistro took over the space overlooking the Siren’s Cover and the Strip at Treasure Island. A mix of Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian and Thai foods show up on the menu, and the place is decorated with the largest private collection of hand-carved jade and ivory antiquities in the United States. But that just sets the scene for Khotan and its sake menu. Of junmai ginjo grade is Dassai’s DY-50, a very smooth, slightly sweet and full-bodied sake with hints of fruit. A carafe is $15 and a bottle is $60. Go more upscale with Gekkeikan horin junmai daiginjo that uses rice polished down to at least 50 percent of its original size. The sake has a delicate and fruity flavor and goes down very smooth. A carafe is available for $20 and a bottle is $80. Nigori is an unfiltered sake, making it pour cloudy, and this drink is denser yet still delicate. Tozai’s ginjo nigori offers hints of pear and an essence of earthiness at $12 for a carafe and $45 for a bottle. Star Rabbit comes in a sparkling blueberry flavor for sake with a twist. A 14-ounce bottle is offered for $20. Still can’t decide? Ask for a flight to sample several.
Treasure Island, 888.692.3777, www.treasureisland.com/restaurants/khotan.aspx.
Over at the Shoppes at the Palazzo you can find SushiSamba and one of the largest sake lists on the West Coast weighing in with more than 125 labels. Their in-house sake sommelier Yuno Hayashi is on hand to guide guests through the list and general manager Hayes Swope is also a certified sake sommelier. Look for several extremely rare and expensive sakes, including the Nanbu Bijin Daiginjo. It was made during Kosuke Kuji San’s first year as a master brewer and won a gold medal in a government-sponsored competition. He then froze the 65 bottles he made at subzero temperatures for 10 years, and decided to keep 30 for himself. SushiSamba received three bottles, and each retails for $2,010. Starting in January, you can take “Sushi + Sake 101” classes every other Saturday and learn about different types of sake, its history and production, then roll your own sushi, pair it with sake and enjoy additional bites. Classes start from 1 to 3 p.m. Jan. 8 for $100 per person.
The Shoppes at the Palazzo, 702.607.0700, www.sushisamba.com
Under the guidance of Chef Masa Ishizawa, Okada at Wynn Las Vegas serves up Japanese fare in a stylish setting overlooking the waterfall and Koi pond. Belly up to the sake bar that seats 14 for one of the 35 on the list, or try a cocktail such as the Sake ’Tini with Junma sake, Takara shochu and fresh cucumber or the Asian Equation with Tyku liquor, Momokawa coconut and lemongrass-infused Nigori sake and fresh kaffir lime leaf. So refreshing.
Wynn Las Vegas, 702.770.9966, www.wynnlasvegas.com
4 Bar Masa
Are you tired of us talking about Bar Masa at Aria yet? We’re not. This place is something else. Masa Takayama’s Bar Masa features more than 100 aromatic and flavorful sakes on the menu. Some call it a “connoisseur’s dream.” The list leans toward selections that emphasize the strong umami properties inherent to Chef Masa’s Japanese cuisine. If you’re not a fan of traditional sake, try a Sake Sour, an Eastern spin on a classic cocktail.
Aria at CityCenter, 877.230.2742, www.arialasvegas.com/dining/barmasa.aspx
Seriously, you didn’t think we were going to leave Shibuya at the MGM Grand off this list, did you? The Japanese restaurant has a line of hand-crafted sakes created exclusively for them: the Neo-Tokyo Sake, a Junmai Ginjo sake exclusive to Shibuya; the Shibuya label Junmai Genshu sake also produced exclusively for Shibuya; and the Hachiko, an innovative new style of sake served in a can. They also recently added the Shibuya pilsner, locally brewed and served in a bottle or as a draft. Renowned sake expert John Gauntner developed one of the best sake lists in the United States for Shibuya. Shibuya’s GM Dieter Xiao is very well-versed in sake and an Advanced Level 2 Sake Specialist certified by the Sake Education Council. When you dine at Shibuya, you can get tips on sake appreciation and selection, as well as tasting events and guidance on the best pairing for each dish. Sake was used as a base ingredient to design a stunning selection of original cocktails, drawing from intriguing flavors characteristic of Japanese cuisine including yuzu-citrus granite and plum-infused Japanese vodka. The Kah Pah, named for the Japanese god of sake, is cucumber sorbet shaken with sake and vodka, topped with a cucumber garnish.
MGM Grand, 702.891.3001, www.mgmgrand.com/restaurants/shibuya-japanese-restaurant.aspx