With celebrity chefs arriving en masse for the Palms’ rebirth, the corner of Flamingo and Arville has suddenly become a culinary epicenter. Just across the street, however, a recent opening from another well-known chef has flown under the radar.
Mitsuo Endo is the oft-James Beard-nominated chef at the helm of Raku, the Valley’s most critically praised off-Strip restaurant. His latest endeavor is a tiny teppanyaki restaurant called Tatsujin X. For the uninitiated, a teppan is a Japanese flattop chefs use to cook in front of guests. (Think Benihana, but without the acrobatic crustacean.) Tastujin’s teppan fronts a counter for 10, with a dozen more table seats available. The menu is limited at this cozy spot, and ordering is straightforward.
Starters are a quintet of chef’s choices amuse-bouches—past selections have included an ikura-topped spoonful of salmon tartare; mushrooms and spinach mixed in nutty goma (sesame) sauce; and, unexpectedly, sawagani, a lightly fried, bite-size crab that you eat shell and all. It’s delicious. A salad course follows as a segue to appetizers, which can include the incredible dashimaki tamago—a Japanese omelet filled with king crab and uni—preceding the duo of a gargantuan grilled oyster bathed in ponzu atop edible marinated kombu (kelp) and a Hokkaido scallop adorned with white truffle. The egg intertwines sweetness with salinity, and the bivalves are an epiphany.
Grilled vegetables, including sardine oil-basted mushrooms and a smoky, slow-roasted sweet onion, lead to the entrée, which determines the meal’s price. Options range from American Kobe cuts between $68 and $70—a Japanese wagyu upgrade costs $30 more—to a buttery sea bass ($65). Each protein is served with a trio of dipping sauces. The garlic, Hennessey and shoyu amalgam is a hit with the beef, while the house-made tartare sauce accompanied by capers highlights the flaky fish.
As if that weren’t enough, the shime course follows, featuring either savory pork okonomiyaki—a savory Japanese pancake rare in these parts—or buttery garlic rice. Dessert options include dorayaki, miniature teppan-cooked Japanese pancakes layered with sweet adzuki bean paste.
Tatsujin X is a singular experience, a deliberately paced meal well worth your time.
Tatsujin X 4439 W. Flamingo Road, 702-771-8955. Monday-Saturday, 6 p.m.-2 a.m.