INKO NITO: Japanese Jungle
The waiter steps up to our table with a flat metal box in hand. He starts shake-shake-shaking it (“it” being the box not himself because that would be kind of weird). Ok, so he’s shaking the box and here’s why. Inside - the rice, Korean miso, scallions, sesame and an egg yolk are all crashing into each other, releasing their collectively compatible flavors into your mouth, bite after bite. It’s delicious and the way you’d imagine James Bond would order up his Kimchi rice – get it? – shaken, not stirred. Ok sorry for the cheesy throwback - please keep reading.
“INKO NITO is an unconventional robatayaki (Japanese fireside-cooking) restaurant. We wanted it to be accessible and relaxed but also really social with all the seating in front of the robata,” says Executive Chef Hamish Brown.
The experience here at INKO NITO really surrounds you from start to finish. INKO NITO is serving a fresh take on jungle vibes. You feel like you’ve traveled far yet feel at ease. The walls are vertically lined with wires each of which has lush greenery crawling up them toward the high ceilings. The design in here is just as delicious as the dishes – even the stools made by the Amish out of Wisconsin will grab your attention – all thanks to LA-based Interior Design firm Studio MAI.
The service is far from stuffy and the cocktails are on tap! So order up a INKO Spritz (the yuzu kicks this Spritz up a notch) and try the following: the fried shrimp/spicy Korean miso hottie “Nigaki” (new style sushi aka roasted nori shaped like an L), next get the Dungeness crab tartare that comes in a tin with chicken skin chips for scooping – is it weird to just want to eat chicken skin chips from now on or nah? Ok, back to two more dishes you should give a whirl – get the popular beef cheeks and give the sweet potatoes wrapped in a husk a go.
“We really felt downtown LA was the place to launch a restaurant like INKO NITO as it’s not really what you expect, as it’s not a traditional Japanese restaurant. The Arts District is a place where change is accepted and celebrated,” says Chef Brown about the decision to land in this part of DTLA.
So come in and experience this culinary jungle for yourself.
Written by Linda Hosmer | Photography by Robiee Ziegler