Sin City is home to a lot of restaurants and bars, but there are tons of hidden gems that the majority of Las Vegans aren't unearthing. To help guide readers to these potential discoveries, Eater Vegas enlisted some of the city's food players to share their recommendations for a feature dubbed Dining Confidential.
Shaun King picked up the executive chef job at Momofuku at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas this summer after a track record that includes stints as a chef de cuisine at Rick Moonen’s RM Seafood at Mandalay Place and as the executive sous chef of SushiSamba in the Grand Canal Shoppes. He left Las Vegas to be the chef de cuisine at Bradley Ogden’s Root 246 in 2012, then spent some time as the executive chef at Martis Camp in Lake Tahoe. In 2014, he moved to Chicago to become the executive chef of The Dawson. Most recently, King oversaw the operations for the back of house at Pabu San Francisco & Ramen Bar for the Mina Group. Here, King gets back to Las Vegas and explores restaurants old and new that have become regulars on his dining rotation.
Do you remember your first trip to Vegas? What happened that was memorable?
My first trip to Vegas was before I was 21 and we ate at Hugo’s Cellar. Everything about the meal was memorable and we really enjoyed the table-side experience. I believe that guests will begin to see more and more cart service as you see an increased emphasis on guest experience (hint hint).
What made you decide to move to Las Vegas?
Vegas was the city where I felt a strong sense of culinary community. Things happen very quickly here and as a chef, I appreciate the sense of urgency. There's so much culinary talent that pushes people to evolve and grow since the competition is so great. The amount of restaurants and talent we have here — we’re pushing each other to be better.
I recently moved back to Vegas and it’s exciting to see cooks that I worked with and grew up with now running their own restaurants.
Where do you like to eat breakfast in Las Vegas?
Definitely the dim sum breakfast at Chang’s Hong Kong Cuisine on Decatur. It’s BYO, and we had a long-standing tradition back in the day to always bring German Riesling.
What about lunch?
Carson Kitchen: My buddy John Courtney is killing it. It's just thoughtful, good food. Their barbecue burnt ends plate is great. They also have a crazy burger.
If you’re going out for dinner, which restaurants do you like to frequent? What makes them special? Any dishes you can recommend?
Brian Howard’s Sparrow & Wolf: I always get the Chinatown clams casino.
Bardot Brassiere: Joshua Smith’s Heritage chicken roti is probably the best chicken dish I have ever had.
Where do you like to dine for a special occasion?
Aureole: Johnny’s food is always so thoughtful and delicious. It’s also a beautiful dining room.
Are there any brunches in town you like to frequent?
I love Eat Downtown...the corned beef and hash is a game changer. I always grab their fried deviled eggs as well.
• All Dining Confidentials [ELV]