Japaniero Proprietor and Executive Chef, Kevin Chong, must have known. If you create exemplary, enigmatic Asian Fusion using the greatest ingredients in the world, “they will come,” even if you’re located in a remote part of town, next to a “sad looking
video poker bar.”
Born in Malaysia, Kevin Chong grew up in Singapore prior to living in Oklahoma City with his adoptive family. While working at the family’s “old school” Chinese Buffet restaurant, Kevin discovered his love and natural ability for cooking. When it was time to set out into the world and strike up a proper career in culinary, Chong headed to Las Vegas because, as he puts it, “Vegas is an amazing place, with amazing food, so of course I went to Vegas.”
After moving to Sin City in 2010, voracious Chef Chong eventually earned himself a spot as a Teppanyaki Chef at world-renown Nobu located in Caesar’s Palace. Kevin shared about the life-changing two-year experience working with incomparable Nobu Matsuhisa as his “sensei.” “I learned so much about cooking techniques and execution at Nobu, and so much about ingredients. This experience really took me to the next level. Chef Nobu is simply incredible.”
With the dream of creating his own incredible culinary empire, Chong opened Japaneiro in 2014 located about “twelve minutes off the strip,” in an unassuming, desolate “L-shaped” strip mall.
Calling his cuisine Asian Fusion to allow for a broader rainbow of ingredients, Chong shared that Japaniero is an intermingling of Japanese and French Parisian, infused with a bevy of diverse Asian offerings and ingredients.
Historically inspired by eating through his travels throughout Japan, Singapore, and greater Asia, Chef Chong is very serious about offering high quality exotic and unique ingredients such as flying squid, prime beef tongue, bone marrow, Filet NY strip, American Wagyu, Japanese Yellow Tail, and live Abalone. His dazzling menu dynamically includes everything from sashimi and ceviche, to high-end gyozas, King Crab with Truffle Butter, and serious meat offerings like Truffled Marrow
A long time CW customer, Chong offered, “The Chefs’ Warehouse is tops because they always have good quality and consistency and are always there for me.” Chong shared. A lot of distributors have great ingredients but cannot keep the consistency. But with CW, every batch is consistently good and this means everything to me.”
With Japaniero having closed for three months due to COVID (Chong’s other venue, the popular, more casual “Holy Shrimp,” Cajun Seafood Fusion, stayed open throughout), Chef Chong shared an upbeat silver lining story. “We originally reopened Japaneiro from 6 pm to 10 pm. However, we discovered this was not enough hours to keep all of our staff. So, we decided to stay open from 6 pm to 3 am every day. Doing this gave us the advantage because very few good places were open at this time, so people found us more easily. We started getting more and more new clientele, and the word of mouth spread about the high level of quality ingredients and consistency of great dishes at Japaniero.”
Going the extra distance of adding the late-night hours not only made Japaniero more popular than it was pre-COVID, doing so also allowed Chong to keep all of his employees, a real win-win for all.
With the holiday season gathering momentum, Chef Chong shared, “I look forward to spending time relaxing with my family and giving the children presents, and me getting some too,” the father of three little ones under six laughed. Kevin also communicated his enthusiasm for his winter-holiday menu, a special time of year when Kegani Hokkaido Hairy Crabs are on the menu at Japaniero.
As the world slowly returns in the New Year of 2021, one thing seems certain, Japaniero, the casual, high-end Asian Fusion at 7315 W. Warm Springs Road, in L.V. may have a longer waiting list than Nobu on the strip, and you won’t need to tip a valet to dine there.