Yonaka Happy Hour

Updated on October 8, 2015.

Yonaka-EntranceWe decided to try Yonaka, at 4983 West Flamingo Road, late on July 4th. The day had been depressingly hot and, by the time we got our butts in gear, our favorite late night sushi place was almost closed. It seemed like a good time to try something new. Yonaka was on our list of places to try and – bonus – it had a late night Happy Hour from 11pm-2am.

Like many off-strip restaurants in Las Vegas, Yonaka is located in a strip mall. But while the outside may be unremarkable, the inside is beautiful, sleek and modern. The tables were comfortably spaced and even had a slot underneath to hold the menus out of the way. The feature wall that appeared to be made from blocks of wood was also pretty interesting.

Yonaka-Dining-RoomBoth the hostess (who was also the manager) and the waiter were extremely polite and helpful. Our waiter’s name was Michael and he was incredibly attentive and funny. He chatted and joked with us in between taking our order and delivering the food. At one point I looked absent-mindedly in his general direction and he came rushing over to see if I needed anything. I was a bit embarrassed to have bothered him but also a bit impressed.

We started our meal with the Edamame. Grilled with togarashi and lemon (in addition to the normal sea salt) it was surprisingly delicious. The bf doesn’t usually care for edamame but we found ourselves dividing up the final pieces.

After that promising start, our entrees started to come out. We decided to try one of the hot dishes in addition to sushi. The Karaage was described as fried chicken and was on the Happy Hour menu. Fried chicken doesn’t always excite me but this was good – lightly breaded and juicy with a nice tangy flavor.

Ibushi Hamachi

Ibushi Hamachi

For maki sushi, we had Negihama and Negitoro. Both were tasty and fresh – no complaints. We also had a roll called Ibushi Hamachi, which consisted of crunchy nuts, chewy dates, fish roe, yellowtail and crispy chips. The unusual combination of textures and flavors created a sort of explosion on the palate. I really enjoyed it.

Another interesting roll we had was the Midnight Roll. It consisted of eel, salmon, asparagus and jalapeno. It had more of an earthy flavor to it, overall. While the ingredients were fresh and good quality, I didn’t like it quite as much as the other rolls.

Sake Orenji

Sake Orenji

My favorite dish by far was the Sake Orenji. Sake (salmon) is my favorite fish and I never would have thought to place it on top of mandarin oranges. It had a sweet, citrus sauce and it tasted amazing. Supposedly it is one of their best sellers and I can see why!

Even after all the food we had, we were somehow talked into dessert. It might have had to do with the fact that they told us that everything (chocolate, sauces, sorbet) was made in-house. How could we pass that up?



We decided to split the Sorbet Trio and the Chokoreto. The sorbet was sweet, light and creamy with amazing flavor (strawberry, honeydew and blueberry). I was not as sold on the Chokoreto. The base of it was a chocolate mouse but with flavors of lime, avocado and mint. All of the flavors were very subtle but I still found the combination to be hard to process. I would recommend it to anyone who likes all of those flavors but I’m not sure if I would (personally) choose it over the sorbet.

I definitely want to get back here on a future trip and try more of the options on the main menu. The combination of amazing service, excellent food and a relaxed atmosphere make this hard to pass up.

  • Yonaka’s Happy Hour is offered from 5:00-6:30pm seven days a week, and again from 10:30pm – 12:00am Sunday through Thursday and 11:00pm-2:00am Friday and Saturday.

Yonaka on Urbanspoon

Chicago Brewing Company: Pizza and Beer

Chicago Brewing Company Thin Crust PizzaLocated up a short flight of stairs in the back right-hand corner of the Four Queens, Chicago Brewing Company offers the perfect combination to fuel your hunger and your thirst.

They offer both thin crust and deep dish pizzas as well as a variety of appetizers. While I have never tried the apps I can confirm that the pizza is very good. With the thin crust, you can choose your own toppings such as pepperoni, mushroom, peppers, etc. It is cut Chicago style and is slightly thicker than New York style pizza. The deep dish comes standard with sausage, pepperoni and cheese. It is pretty small in diameter but it makes up with it in toppings and crust!

Chicago Brewing Company Deep Dish PizzaAs for refreshments, you can choose from their variety of micro-brews. There is always a good variety. They have light ale, amber ale, brown ale, hefeweizen and stout. All are quite good and, starting at $4 for a 14 oz, they won’t break the bank. But you want to know the best thing? You can get a 64oz growler filled with your favorite brew for just $14 (note: the IPA is $20). These brown glass jugs are even refillable – so you could even tote one up and down Fremont if you wanted to.

Not feeling like a beer? Well, I hope you like root beer then because this place makes their own (excellent) root beer. Last time we went with a group and we ended up sharing a growler of it. Needless to say, everyone was impressed!

So, if you are interested in a cheap and tasty food option in the heart of Fremont Street, check it out. You can find their menu here: http://www.fourqueens.com/pdf/chicago_brew_menu.pdf

  • If smoke bothers you, ask to be seated in the dining room (to the left). The bar area to the right is both a video poker bar and a cigar bar.
  • Stop by on weekdays from 3-6pm for happy hour – all appetizers are half price!

Chicago Brew Pub on Urbanspoon

Kabuto Edomae: Traditional Sushi

Kabuto-EntranceThere are many hidden gems in Las Vegas. These restaurants may not heavily advertise and may be some distance from the Strip – but they also have some of the most amazing dining experiences (and are an absolute bargain when you consider what things cost on the Strip).

Kabuto is a tiny, simply decorated restaurant that seats exactly twenty four people. And, unless you are looking for it, you will probably have a hard time finding it. We even had some trouble, though we were able to find the plaza it is located in using GPS. Once there, you need to look for the restaurant with the smallest possible sign – from a distance it it looks like it doesn’t even have a sign. We had to walk right up to the door to confirm we were at the right place.

Kabuto ChefOnce inside you will notice how small it is – they have ten seats at the bar and four tables – three four tops and a two top. We were seated at a two top and kind of squished into a corner. (I soon forgot any discomfort, though, once amazing food started coming out).

In order to get a good idea of what the chef had to offer, we decided on the Middle Omakase, which costs $80 per person. We decided to just have water for a drink since the goal was to truly enjoy the fish. The waitress asked us if there was any type of fish we didn’t want to eat/couldn’t have. I took this opportunity to inform her that I have a pretty strong dislike for fish roe. I don’t mind it as a garnish on a roll but I won’t eat much of it, otherwise.

Kabuto SashimiOur first ‘course’ was more of an apertif. It was a small glass filled with the most amazing sake. The waitress told us it was a lemon sake that the chef made at home. It was really light, sweet and refreshing.

This was followed by a Jack Mackeral Salad, with sweet vinegar, cucumber, scallion and nori (seaweed). The sashimi started to come out next. The waitress was very informative, telling us what each fish was and where it had come from. The first grouping was Blue Fin Tuna (Spain), Opal Eye (Japan), Jack Mackerel (Japan) and Orange Clam (Boston). I was immediately struck by how fresh the fish was. I don’t think I’ve ever had sashimi that was quite that fresh – and I live on the Atlantic coast!

Kabuto Breem Kobe and Flying FishThe next set to come out was Breem with miso sauce, Kobe beef with daikon radish and ponzu sauce, and Spanish Mackerel with salt from Japan. The Breem was my favorite, though I also really enjoyed the mackerel. The salt it came with was light and subtle and really added to the taste of the mackerel.

The next two courses consisted of Medium Fatty Tuna (Spain), Blue Fin Tuna (Japan), Deep Sea Porgy (Japan), Snapper, Young Yellowtail, Japanese Mackerel, Sea Eel and Tamago. The Young Yellowtail was substituted for me since instead of Salmon Roe. I was very happy with this unexpected surprise since my favorite roll of all time is made with Young Yellowtail. Kabuto TamagoMy boyfriend received the Salmon Roe, which he said was the best he’d ever had. It came in a tiny bowl with a spoon, like caviar would. I also have to mention the Tamago. While all of the fish in courses 3 and 4 were excellent, the Tamago was hands-down the best I had ever tasted.

At this point the waitress came over and explained that we were finished with our main courses, though we were free to order something extra off the menu. She pointed out some of the options we had not tried and explained what they were. The boyfriend had the Triangle Tuna while I tried the Kamashita Fatty Tuna. Both tasted incredible though the triangle was bit tougher and the Fatty Tuna was smooth and rich. Two very different tastes but both are worth trying if you like Tuna.

Kabuto Fish Miso SoupWe were surprised by two more courses – a premium Fatty Tuna Hand Roll and a bowl of Miso Soup. The roll was great, with a fresh seaweed wrap and the perfect balance of rice and fish.

For dessert we had a strawberry crepe and homemade mochi. The mochi was very tasty, with a relatively thin shell and delicious ice cream. The strawberry crepe was more like a mille feuille pastry. It consisted of very thin layers of alternating strawberry cream and pastry. Much better than I had anticipated.

Kabuto Strawberry CrepeWhile the meal was not exactly cheap, it was overall the best sushi I have ever had. I would definitely do it again.

I am fairly certain that the next Omakase up included the Triangle and Fatty Tuna. I also know that the menu changes with the season and availability of fish so some items I mentioned may not be available for future meals.

Website: www.kabutolv.com
Kabuto on Urbanspoon

Fukuburger Truck: Seriously Juicy

One really great thing about Vegas, which I only discovered in the past year, is the variety of tasty food that you can get from food trucks. While we have some food trucks around Boston, they are few and far between….and only out when they weather is actually decent.

Fukuburger-#4-Kinoko-BurgerOne food truck we have returned to again and again is the Fukuburger truck. It first came to my attention when I was looking for a nearby place to eat and found all the rave reviews on Yelp. While I am not really a burger person, I found the description of the flavor combinations to be downright intriguing. It was basically Asian-fusion meets juicy burger. Who knew such things existed? When I found out I could even get garlic fries with my burger, I made it my mission to try it.

Fukuburger-#2-Tamago-BurgerThe key to trying them is finding them – and they have made that easier over time, As of right now you can go to 
http://fukuburger.squarespace.com/schedule (even on a phone) and find out where they are planning to be. Sometimes they mention a time but I’ve found that at an event they are pretty much there for the duration.

So let’s talk food. Rest assured that their burgers are seriously juicy, made with good meat and interesting toppings. My favorite burger has to be their Tamago burger which comes with teryaki sauce, wasabi mayo, onions and a big egg on it. It’s messy as all-get-out but it is so tasty! I also like the Kinoko burger or “mushroom burger”. The garlic fries are also very tasty, though they haven’t always had them when I’ve been there.

Fukuburger_Togarashi-Garlic-FriesI don’t want to give away too much of what they have but check out the photos. That should give you a good idea of what you are missing. Then look at the schedule and hall you butt over to the big red truck. Even if you see a line, rest-assured…it is worth it.

Website: fukuburger.squarespace.com
Fukuburger on Urbanspoon

Babystacks Cafe – Pancakes for Dessert

Babystacks LogoIn our quest to find new and interesting places to eat breakfast, I came across BabyStacks Cafe. I noticed that it seemed to be highly rated online and a lot of people had great things to say about it. Despite being more of an ‘eggs and homefries’ breakfast type (who is more than a little addicted to Omelet House), I figured it was worth a try.

When we first got there, there was a bit of a wait. It was around noontime and we seemed to have hit quite the local lunch crowd. The wait wasn’t long – around 15 minutes. And even during that time there were a lot of people coming in and out for takeout. A good sign.

The interior was fairly bright and modern, with wooden tables and chairs and a feature wall that had their logo. There was also a wall where they had hung a bunch coloring book-type images of their logo, colored and signed by a variety of children. A small bar towards the back had limited seating and a TV. We were told that seating at the bar was also by reservation/line number – as opposed to some places that let you bypass the tables to sit at the bar.

Red Velvet

Red Velvet Pancakes

Once seated we had to wait a few minutes to order. Not a big deal since they were very busy. Being unable to decide, I ordered a short stack of the red velvet pancakes and the carrot cakes with a glass of milk. The boyfriend ordered a coffee and their specialty Kalua Grilled Cheese.

The drinks came out quickly but the food seemed to take a long time. It seems as though the kitchen was a bit overwhelmed with all the orders, which was kind of understandable given the constant line at the door.

Short Stack

Short Stack

When the food came, I was immediately impressed by the size of the ‘short stacks’. They looked delicious and tasted even better. The carrot cakes tasted just like a carrot cake smooshed into a pancake. The red velvet pancakes had an incredible color to them and were better than any red velvet cake I have ever had. I didn’t even end up using much of the cream cheese syrup that everyone talks about in the reviews. The pancakes tasted great without it.

Kalua Grilled Cheese

Kalua Grilled Cheese

I also tried a bite of the Kalua Grilled Cheese. It consists of Kalua Pork with cheddar and muenster cheese on sourdough bread. I thought it tasted really good, even though I wasn’t really craving cheese right then. The fries were also quite tasty.

I have to confess, I didn’t actually finish my pancakes – but only because they were so filling. I don’t know how big the normal stack is but I couldn’t even finish the small stacks (despite some help from the boyfriend). Seriously, I would recommend sharing them with someone unless you are REALLY hungry.

This is a place I would definitely recommend. I plan on trying to make it back, myself. There are some Lemon Ricotta and Bacon pancakes with my name on them….

  • Babystacks has two locations: The one we visited at 4135 South Buffalo Drive Suite 101 (Spring Valley) and the original at 2400 North Buffalo Drive Suite 145 (Summerlin).

Babystacks Cafe #2 on Urbanspoon

The Lady Silvia

Lady Silvia EntranceAs someone who has never smoked, it took a while for me to get used to casinos and bars in Las Vegas. While I am all for freedom of choice and believe that a smoker should be able to choose whether or not they want to smoke, it is honestly hard for me to breathe smoke-filled air. I tend to get an allergic reaction to smoke, complete with stuffy nose and watery eyes.

So, when I heard about a smoke-free bar in Las Vegas I had to try it. And this bar is definitely worth a try – though it is more than a little hard to find. The address of the bar, 900 Las Vegas Blvd, is actually different from the physical entrance. If you want to enter the bar then you need to go to 140 Hoover Ave. One big clue is to look for the small parking lot with the Lady Silvia sign. It’s right across from the entrance.

Lady_Silvia-roomWhen you enter you are greeted by a dark hallway with bathrooms to the left. Ahead is the door to The Lady Silvia – a large, bright modern room lined by a bar on the right and a large seating area to the left. The bar is sleek and modern, framed by two TVs that were playing a Truffaut film (The 700 Blows) last time we were there. The seating area, on the other hand, resembles an old Victorian study with a modern twist. Bookshelves line the walls and comfy Victorian style chairs and sofas make up seating areas.

Lady_Silvia-PinxtosAt Happy Hour (the only time we’ve been there) the bar tends to be filled with locals who, from what I can tell, live in the adjacent apartments or condos. It comes off as more of a local hang out – kind of like the tv show Cheers, Vegas style. While the bar is open at 4pm, Happy Hour starts at 5pm and goes until 8pm Monday through Friday. The specialty cocktails are $6 and they serve pinxtos (similar to tapas) for $2/piece. There are also beer and well drink specials but, if you are going to go out of your way to come here, you should really try the cocktails!

Lady_Silvia-Cocktail2They have a wide array of premium liquors, bitters and cordials for making interesting drinks. Some of the Signature cocktails we have tried and liked are the Surrealist, the Lady Silvia and the Impressionist. The Surrealist stands out as being one of the only drinks made with green chartreuse that we’ve actually liked. I am always impressed by a place that can make a good cocktail using Green Chartreuse, since it’s strong herbal flavor often makes it hard to blend with other liquors.

We have yet to go to The Lady Silvia at night but that is mostly because we are usually downtown enjoying the free shows later in the evening. They look like they have some interesting entertainment, though, like the house and underground techno night they have on Sundays.

Lady Silvia BarYou can check out their website here: www.theladysilvia.com. And if you are looking for something to do that’s minutes away from downtown, you should check them out.

Lady Silvia on Urbanspoon

Breakfast Downtown – Du-Par’s Restaurant

DuPars-menuThis excellent breakfast place is located inside the Golden Gate casino, directly across from The Plaza. There are quite a few restaurants offering breakfast downtown but if you want a good, hearty breakfast this is your best bet.

The restaurant is fairly tiny but has a cozy, diner-type feel. The waitstaff is friendly enough and, while it is often crowded, we have not yet had to wait for a seat.

Eggs, muffins or pancakes are all good choices. I like the omelets, while my boyfriend prefers the (rather large) pancakes. I was impressed that they even attempted to grill a muffin for me. I guess that cutting a muffin in half and grilling it with butter is a Northeast thing, but they made a reasonable attempt at it.

DuPars-pancakesWe also ended up having dinner here once because of it’s convenient location across from the Plaza (where we were staying). I ended up having meatloaf and some pie, both of which were quite good. However, while there are tons of choices for dinner in Vegas there seem to be few decent (and easy to get to) breakfast places. For that reason, I think I will continue to make this a breakfast stop.

As for prices, I found them to be similar to what I pay at home in the Boston area, which I think is a bit expensive for Vegas. But I happen to be okay with paying a bit more for quality and I think Du-Pars is worth it.

Website: www.du-pars.com
Du-Par’s Restaurant & Bakery on Urbanspoon

Viva Las Vegas – Car Show

Viva_Las_Vegas_Car_Show-logo-carMany of my trips to Las Vegas have coincided with Viva Las Vegas. This hasn’t necessarily been intentional – Viva almost always happens the weekend of my birthday in early April. I can’t complain, though. In my experience the Viva attendees have been a lot of fun – both to hang with AND to look at!

Viva_Las_Vegas_Car_Show-Covered-Convertible-HotrodSince I usually have my own itinerary when I’m in Vegas in April, the only event I have attended (that is officially put on by Viva) is the car show. It is a four day event that takes place in the large rear parking lot of the Orleans hotel. It is a bit on the pricey side – last year’s tickets were $30/day in advance or $50 for the full 4 days. But, if you like cars, it is well worth it.

The cars are amazing! What makes this car show unique is that each car is a real work of
Viva_Las_Vegas_Car_Show-Truck-Harley art and a direct reflection of it’s owner’s tastes. No two cars are alike and, with over 700 registered cars, there was a lot to look at. I would suggest late in the day on Friday or Saturday as the best days to go. It seems like the majority of the cars arrive by Friday night and some people are starting to head out by Sunday morning.

Viva_Las_Vegas_Car_Show-Counts-Kustoms-BoothThere are also a lot of interesting vendors offering everything from clothing to art to burlesque items. There was even a tent set up for Counts Kustoms, a dealer of custom choppers and hot rods which has been featured on Pawn Stars and Counting Cars on the History channel. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to check out all of the vendors since a lot of them were located towards the back of the show. It took about a couple of hours to get through all the cars and, by the time I got to the rear of the show, it was closing time for the day.

I have so many pictures of this show that it is hard to pick and choose. I have attached quite a few images of what I felt were the more interesting cars. And, if you are ever in the area during the show, I suggest you check it out yourself.

Viva Las Vegas 2013 will be held on March 28-31 at the Orleans Casino. The car show is March 30th.



Le Thai: An App, Two Entrees and a Lady Boy

Le_Thai-EntranceThis little restaurant located just outside the downtown canopy may not seem like much at first glance. In fact, I walked by it many times on our trips to Vegas. It’s dark exterior and tiny size made me think it was just some random take-out restaurant.

When my boyfriend told me about the really good Thai restaurant we should check out, it never occurred to me that he was referring to the same tiny little place I had walked by so many times. I admit, I was dubious. I should know by now that Las Vegas has a lot of hidden gems – yet sometimes I still need to be reminded.

Le_Thai-Wall-ArtWe came here later on a Friday night and I was worried we wouldn’t get in. The place appears miniscule from the outside and I could tell there were already a lot of people seated. The hostess was apologetic, claiming they only had outside seating. She thought this might not be acceptable since it was cold (in the 50s) outside. Being from New England though we were willing to ‘brave the cold’. She seemed relieved and said something about how nice it is when people are laid back. We were then led through the main part of the restaurant and back to the ‘outdoor seating’.

The main part of the restaurant was dark and small with a lot of small tables. It didn’t appear overly cramped though, like some small restaurants I have been in. The outdoor seating area was a bit more spacious, with tables in the center of the room and seating along the walls. Though they refer to it as outdoors, it is more like a large patio area with walls and a bamboo ceiling. Heating units throughout kept it at a temperature that was almost too warm for me. Definitely not the outdoor seating I was expecting.

We had to wait quite a few minutes for a server but I didn’t mind. It gave us some time to look over both the food and drink menus. When our server did come he was very friendly and even joked around with my boyfriend. He was more than willing to answer any questions and, when asked about the ingredients in one of our dishes, he willingly went back to the kitchen and asked the chef about it.

Le_Thai-Spring-RollsSo, on to the best part – the food. I had to go the traditional route (since it was our first time here) so I chose the Spring Rolls and Pad Thai with a Thai Iced Coffee. I tend to order these items the first time I go to a Thai place with the idea that if the most popular dishes are good then the rest of the food is worth trying. And these things did not disappoint. My coffee was just the right balance of sweet and strong. A lot of places tend to overdo it with the cream but that was not the case here. The spring rolls came out quickly and were crispy and fresh with a nice sauce. The Pad Thai was large and had a lot of good flavor without being greasy.

Le_Thai-Shrimp-Pad-ThaiLe_Thai-Thai-Beef-Noodle-SoupThe boyfriend got Thai Beef and Meatball Noodle Soup and the Lady Boy cocktail (Mekhong Thai Whiskey, ginger ale and lime). I tried the soup and it was incredible. It was full of tasty, savory beef to the point where I would call it more of a stew than a soup. This was the dish that we asked the waiter more about. We found out that the tenderness of the beef was the result of a 3 day process. I thought the Lady Boy was okay though I am not a fan of lime. The boyfriend described it as a lighter, more natural tasting whiskey sour.

Good service and delicious food – this is definitely a place I would like to return to. It is very convenient when you are looking for a place to eat downtown as it’s open until 12am during the week and 2am on weekends. You may need to make a reservation if you want a table at a peak time.

It looks like they have a website in development but right now the best place to go for more info seems to be their Urbanspoon page.
Le Thai on Urbanspoon

Golden Nugget Rush Tower – Downtown Luxury

When I first started going to Vegas I was a bit enamored with the beautiful luxury properties that were available. This probably has to do with the fact that the average hotel room in my hometown of Boston is about $150 – and that is hardly top of the line. So I was very excited to find out that $150 in Vegas could get me entry level rooms at such places as the Palazzo and the Venetian (and at one point even the Wynn). Over time, as we ventured out and got to learn more about the city, we stopped staying on the Strip and  I slowly forgot about the ‘luxury’ rooms I used to love staying in.


But I was pleasantly surprised when we decided to try out the ‘new’ Rush Tower at Golden Nugget. We had stayed in some of the older rooms, which I felt were nice but nothing to write home about. It was when we were offered a discounted rate based on our previous stay that we decided to do something different and try out one of the newer rooms (opened in 2009).

The first thing you notice when you enter the Rush Tower (which you can do from both the separate outdoor entrance or by going through the GN casino) is the 75,000 gallon tropical aquarium that appears behind the check in desk in the large, modern lobby. This technically belongs to a small restaurant/bar that I have not yet tried called Chart House but the overall effect on the first time visitor can be impressive. In fact, we took some first time visitors to see the lobby on our last trip and they stood there for 5 minutes gaping.

Golden_Nugget_Rush_Tower-sitting-areaThe rooms themselves remind me a lot of the entry level rooms at the Palazzo – though they cost quite a bit less and are a bit smaller. The furniture is modern, yet comfortable and decorated in soothing, earthy colors. A basic Rush Tower Deluxe room (pictured) includes a king-sized bed, a 42-inch tv, an iHome stereo and sectional couch. The bathroom includes two sinks and a large soaking tub, with a separate toilet room.

Golden_Nugget_Rush_Tower-bedIn addition to their own entrance and valet, guests can also enjoy some of the great Golden Nugget amenities – like the shark tank and pool. I am not even a fan of pools in general yet I love the pool at the Nugget. It has a great lounge area and an amazing slide that brings you down through their shark tank and into the pool. If you are ever in the Nugget you should go and check it out – security is usually willing to let people in for a quick look if you ask politely and they are not busy.

I would definitely recommend the Rush Tower to anyone looking for a little bit of luxury in downtown Las Vegas. I find it to be especially effective if you’re trying to convince someone who has only ever stayed on the Strip that downtown can be just as classy.