Inyo Asian Restaurant
sparkling sake and shiso
kanpachi sashimi – sliced amberjack with serrano chili, yuzu kosho, tobiko & house ponzu
28 day dry aged wagyu carpaccio – aged stilton blue cheese, honey soy mustard seed & micro chives
smoked foie rinds – crispy togarashi pork rinds with yuzu honey & shaved smoked foie gras
drake duck jam – confit duck leg “pho flavor” with fresh herbs, bean sprout & sesame cracker
kurobuta pulled pork – cherry smoked with watercress, pickled red onion, bao’s & kentuckyaki bbq
scallop “dynamite” – live scallop, spinach & mushroom baked in house masago sauce
octo-cargot – broiled spanish octopus baked escargot style with garlic, shiro miso & herb butter panko
shumai – house made black tiger prawn & bamboo dumplings with spicy soy mustard
yari ika squid – char-grilled whole sword squid with garlic soy butter
squid ink & uni fried rice – squid legs & santa barbara sea urchin sautéed with garlic, lemon & squid ink
whole crispy fried sea bass – chinese style with ginger, scallion & soy
green tea & uni – green tea panna cotta & uni white chocolate gelato, cigar coconut cola tuille, nori rice cracker & sake ponzu reduction
Selected for the second installment of Chef Series, a group formed at the start of this year with the intention of bringing like-minded local diners together at restaurants justifying more attention in a Las Vegas dining scene often clouded by those touting “new is best,” twenty-four persons sat down at Inyo Asian Restaurant on Saturday evening where owner Peter Chen played host and server while Chef Gregg Fortunato sent forth a twelve course spread.
Lengthy in size, though the kitchen itself is quite small, Inyo has dropped the “Asian Variety” naming since a first visit one year before and although easily lost amidst so much Spring Mountain Road competition there is little doubt that the menu remains both unique and aggressive, a board of daily specials joining printed favorites to comprise the meal our group encountered Carte Blanche.
Garnering some accolades from the local media, most recently a glowing article in The Review-Journal, Inyo’s dining area remains stark but tasteful and although the beeps and buzzes of overhead techno can play on nerves after a while the service certainly ups the ante on other nearby places, as to does the ingredient quality used.
Starting out with sweet sake plus a warm towel it was just past 7pm as the whole group was seated that course number one arrived, and with all plating done family style several slices of tender kanpachi immediately enlivened the palate beneath sliced peppers and light ponzu, the flavors no less impressive than that at places like Nobu while a follow-up of dry-aged Wagyu upped the intrigue significantly with Stilton adding a bit of funk mellowed by honey-glazed mustard seed, soy sauce, and diced chives.
Using the rich beef as a springboard to several more hearty plates, the focus here certainly not sushi and sashimi as some may assume, courses three and four presented crispy pig skins topped in shaved foie gras and confit duck, respectively, the makeshift ‘pho’ marred by not enough rice crackers for sharing while Pig Skins made believers out of those not particularly sold on the concept through the use of creamy liver helping meld sweet heat to smoke.
Again doing a disservice to diners by presenting Cherrywood smoked Kurobuta Pork with too few Bao to be tasted without overloading each steamed bun with meat, a sixth plate saw “Yum-Yum” Scallops given a substantial upgrade by using fresh Mollusks beneath a tangy sauce teaming with mushrooms, a bit of white rice dearly desired to assist with soaking up the flavors, but not provided as a rush to plate seven left little time to consider such things.
Wishing the “octo-cargot” would have been as well crafted as it was clever – the garlic, miso and breadcrumbs completely overwhelming broiled octopus that could have just as easily been snails, fish or even tofu – housemade shumai saw the menu once again righted, black tiger prawns lightly wrapped with great flavor even though many chose to eschew spicy mustard.
Next presenting tender, charred Yari Ika generously brushed in Soy Butter before offering a bowl of black rice that unfortunately saw little added by a tongue of uni, although great texture was imparted by small bits of scallop dispersed amongst the grains, savories were rounded out by a whole Sea Bass served with beautiful simplicity, the dessert crafted by Gelatology’s Desyree Alberganti full of fun and creativity as salinity gave way to sweetness atop varied textures with a finish that was both light and refreshing.
THREE AND A HALF STARS: Planning the menu over a month in advance with most of the items served on regular rotation, Chef Series #2 at Inyo Asian Restaurant was a great chance to take a look at what Gregg and Peter are trying to create, a whole lot of great stuff with even simple plates thrilling, though small issues in presentation indicate kinks that still need to be worked out.
RECOMMENDED: Smoked Foie Rinds, Wagyu Carpaccio, Scallop Dynamite, Yari Ika Squid.
AVOID: Octo-Cargot and Squid Ink Uni Fried Rice were misses while, as served, the Kurobuta pork and Duck Jam were also compromised.
TIP: Open Tuesday to Sunday 5pm to 2am, Happy Hour Tuesday to Sunday 5pm to 6pm + 9pm – 1am, Closed Monday.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.