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ITSY BITSY RAMEN & WHISKEY

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Downtown

150 Las Vegas Blvd. N., Suite 100

Las Vegas, NV 89101

702-405-9393

website

$10-$25

Mon-Thu 11am-11pm

Fri 11am-1am; Sat 4pm-1am

Sun 4pm-11pm

Japanese

A

AT A GLANCE

What is it?

A fantastic and unique restaurant serving Japanese street food and other Asian delights.

Where is it?

In Downtown Las Vegas at the Ogden residential building.

What kind of food is served?

Make your own ramen bowls and small, shareable plates of Japanese specialties.

What is the atmosphere like?

It's a casual space with an open kitchen and big windows giving it an airy feel.

How is the service?

Really good, with a knowledgeable staff bringing the food at a good pace.

What are the prices like?

Much cheaper than it has any right to be but be warned that you can rack up a decent bill if you sample too much (which is what you're going to want to do).

What else do I need to know?

Per the name, they have a wide variety of whiskeys, both Japanese and not, plus Japanese beer and sake.

What's the bottom line?

Yet another reason to go Downtown if you're hungry.

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FULL REVIEW

If restaurants like Carson Kitchen, La Comida, and Eat haven't convinced you that Downtown Las Vegas has the most dynamic and interesting dining scene in town, then let me introduce you to Itsy Bitsy Ramen & Whiskey.

It's located on the ground floor of the Ogden residential apartment and condo building, in between Neonopolis and El Cortez. Although it has a Las Vegas Boulevard address, it actually faces Ogden Street along a strip of storefront style windows. There isn't much in the way of signage so you kind of have to keep your eyes peeled - I knew where it was, generally, and I still walked right past it twice.

The multi-level room is small but airy, with big windows facing out to the street. There's a bar area where they serve up a wide variety of Japanese beer, whisky, sake, and more plus a full array regular spirits. Do sample one of their specialties - you won't be able to find them everywhere.

The centerpiece of the inventive menu is the make-your-own ramen bowl. You start with a choice of either thick or thin noodles then add your broth, either tonkotsu (pork), shoyu (soy), or miso (chicken). Every bowl comes with green onion, braised pork, bean sprout, and egg but then you can add tofu, buttered corn, spam, dried seaweed, and more. I lost track of what we put in the one we created but it was darned good and absolutely nothing like those dried packages of ramen you used to eat in college when you couldn't afford anything else.

But don't be distracted by the ramen and miss the small plates portion of the menu. It features a wide variety of shareable Japanese dishes, much of it with a street food kind of flair. The pot stickers were nothing short of perfect, cooked to a golden crisp and stuffed with flavorful pork (you can also get them in veggie or shrimp varieties). The Korubuta sausage were like small hot links, so juicy and popping when you bit into them, served with a tangy mustard. The Japanese chicken bites were dark meat bits of deep fried deliciousness. Tempura vegetables included sweet potato, broccoli, onion, and more, not too heavily battered and fried simply to retain the flavors. And do not miss the Robata skewers, with either beef, chicken, or pork, done smoky and juicy and incredible.

Other options include things like tuna sashimi, kimchi, miso soup, and seaweed salad.

And as if that all was not enough, they also have a variety of rice bowls and sushi.

I often run out of words to describe really good food and I hate running to the thesaurus just to make things more interesting, but let's just call it one of the best meals I have eaten in Vegas and leave it at that.

Prices are incredibly affordable. Most of the small plates and skewers are in the $3-$7 range, rice and ramen bowls are around $10, and sushi goes from about $5 for a single roll up to just under $20 for five. Three us of did six small plates and a bowl of ramen for under $40. Start throwing in some of the expensive beers, whiskeys, sushi, and a really good tip for the very good service and it could easily double that, but it's still a lot less than you'll pay for a comparable meal on The Strip.

And really, this place is kind of incomparable. The closest you'll find to it are the amazing Roku Grill on the west side of town and the terrific Yoshu at Monte Carlo, both of which are great options, but with the flavors still lingering fresh in my mind I'm just an itsy bitsy bit more inclined to put Itsy Bitsy at the top of the list.

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