Oftentimes the unsung heroes of a restaurant are the leaders of the kitchen, who are toiling behind the scenes to provide a pleasurable dining experience for the eatery’s patrons.
In this series we shine a spotlight on talented, creative and unique individuals who have or are becoming the culinary superheroes of our city and what paths they have taken to establish themselves as rising and established gastronomic stars. We examine their unique attributes and what has helped to make them become the best of the best, and salute these culinary stars of which ranks include celebrity chefs, small business chef/owners and executive chefs.
A Culinary Adventure Unveiled: M.Y. Asia Restaurant and the Remarkable Journey of Chef Martin Yan
In the city of Las Vegas, where glitz and glamor reign supreme, an exotic gem awaits discovery. M.Y. Asia restaurant, the brainchild of James Beard Award Winner and world-renowned chef and globetrotter, Chef Martin Yan, invites you on a remarkable culinary expedition.
Embark on a voyage that merges Chef Yan’s extraordinary background and his captivating show on PBS, Yan Can Cook, with the vibrant flavors and mesmerizing landscapes of Asia at M.Y. Asia restaurant located at the Horseshoe Casino (formerly Bally’s) and immerse yourself in a world where culinary artistry intertwines with — if you allow me — a little heartfelt storytelling.
An Extraordinary Childhood
Chef Martin Yan’s culinary journey traces back to his childhood, where his passion for food and cooking took root.
In the tapestry of his upbringing, Chef Yan found inspiration in the kitchen of his father’s restaurant and the bustling Asian market run by his mother in Guangzhou, China. These formative experiences laid the foundation for his deep appreciation of ingredients and flavors.
“I lived during a time when food was rationed. We didn’t have asparagus or broccoli, or lobster and crab. It was a very challenging time, but it made me want to explore flavors. Today I love many exotic flavors and love working with flavors we never had when I was growing up, like anchovy and goat cheese,” Chef Yan explained.
Food was rationed due to the political and economic conditions at the time, including the effects of the Chinese Communist Revolution and the Great Leap Forward. Though scarcity marked his early years, it only ignited his curiosity, leading him to find beauty and creativity in the simplest of ingredients.
“I even went on to study food science in college,” he added.
Chef Yan obtained his food science degree from the University of California, Davis, in the US. Today, his innovative spirit celebrates the diverse richness of flavors that all Asian cuisines have to offer.
A Life of Adventure with Yan Can Cook
Chef Yan’s engaging conversation turned to some behind-the-scenes adventures on his globetrotting show, Yan Can Cook. Venturing into the Malaysian rainforest during one of his cooking shows, Chef Yan encountered an unforgettable incident that underscored the wonders and challenges of nature. As the crew filmed amidst the pulsating ecosystem, an accidental disturbance unleashed a territorial swarm of venomous ants.
“We were filming in the rainforest of Malaysia when a crew member stepped on an anthill by accident,” the concern in Chef Yan’s voice became evident as he explained the dramatic turn of events.
A crew member fell victim to their relentless stings, enduring an astonishing 300 ant bites. This unexpected encounter serves as a testament to the unpredictable adventures that await those who dare to explore the breathtaking landscapes where Chef Yan’s culinary escapades unfold.
Chef Martin Yan has long shared his passion for cooking and exploration through his iconic show.
“We have been filming our show for 45 years,” says Chef Yan, “from Vietnam to the vibrant food metropolis of Tokyo to the aromatic spice bazaars of Bangkok, Singapore, and the Malaysian rainforest.”
Chef Yan fearlessly dives into the heart of cultural traditions while unraveling the secrets behind mouthwatering dishes. With each episode he transcends borders, inviting viewers to savor the essence of diverse cultures through their culinary heritage. Beyond the show, Chef Yan’s legacy extends to his successful restaurant ventures, numerous cookbooks, public appearances and philanthropic endeavors. He remains a culinary ambassador, using food as a universal language to unite people worldwide.
“Because after all, food brings people together,” says Chef Yan.
Chef Martin Yan at Home
Chef Yan, renowned for his culinary expertise, possesses a lesser-known talent as an avid gardener. He understands that the key to creating exceptional dishes lies in utilizing seasonally fresh produce. With half an acre dedicated to his garden, he devotes several hours each day to its cultivation, nurturing a diverse array of fruit trees and an impressive collection of thirty vegetable and herbal varieties.
Chef Yan speaks with enthusiasm as he explains, “I work in my garden almost every day, sometimes three to four hours before I even go into work.”
His passion for gardening is undeniable, and he recognizes the vital role it plays in elevating the flavors and quality of his creations. For him, the journey from sun drenched plants to plate is a cherished process, ensuring that only the finest ingredients find their way into his delectable dishes.
Welcome to M.Y. Asia Restaurant
M.Y. Asia captures the spirit of Chef Martin Yan’s extraordinary culinary journey.
With meticulous attention to detail, the menu showcases an exceptional fusion of authentic Asian cuisine and contemporary innovation. Diners will relish enchanting gastronomic dishes, vibrant colors, intricate aromas, and tantalizing tastes inspired by Chef Yan’s extensive travels. From Thai Yellow Coconut Curry Chicken to Pan Seared Chilean Sea Bass, each dish reflects the varied landscapes and distinctive flavors of Asia.
To use Chef Yan’s words, “There’s a certain energy in the restaurant and in the exhibition kitchen.” It features a skilled noodle-pulling chef and a mesmerizing face changing kung-fu dance performance chef, adding an element that leaves guests in awe.
The Lucky Bell Bar nestled within M.Y. Asia lends a toast to the adventure, where guests can discover classic cocktails, an extensive beer and wine selection, and a lively late-night lounge ambiance. Signature libations such as the Kasama Mama, M.Y. Paloma, and Lychee in Paradise transport guests to a realm of exotic flavors and innovative concoctions, perfectly complementing the culinary delights served at M.Y. Asia.
Whether you’re looking to unwind after a long day or celebrate a special occasion, the Lucky Bell Bar offers a delightful escape where the spirit of adventure mingles with the art of mixology.
Chef Martin Yan’s journey, shaped by his diverse background and global explorations, comes together with the vibrant flavors of Asia to create a dining experience unlike any other. From the captivating tales of his childhood to the unexpected encounters in far-flung locations, Chef Yan’s passion for food and culture infuses every dish served at M.Y. Asia with a menu that showcases the continent’s culinary treasures.
M.Y. Asia is open daily 11 a.m. to midnight.