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.
After graduating from the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City, chef Paras Shah began his career as an extern at Thomas Keller’s Per Se, and then David Chang’s Momofuku Noodle Bar. Shah left New York when he earned an ICEX culinary scholarship to study and work at el Bulli and Echaurren in Spain. After spending 14 months learning the ins and outs of cooking both traditional and elevated Spanish cuisine, Shah returned to the U.S. to tour the country as chef de cuisine for Dinner Lab, a nationwide pop-up supper club company. Following the opening of his New York City Mediterranean-influenced American restaurant Kat & Theo, Shah joined the Barcelona Group and later Chez Ben and M. Brown. His latest project, Valencian Gold, brings “paella for the people” and introduces a Spanish experience to the world of fast-casual dining with his chef-partner Jeffrey Weiss. Here, Shah shares some of his dining discoveries in Las Vegas.
Eater Vegas: Do you remember your first trip to Vegas? What happened that was memorable?
Paras Shah: My first trip to Las Vegas was a memorable 13 hours. It was Labor Day weekend many years ago and my girlfriend and I thought that it would be a great idea to head out here from New York City for part of that long weekend. We had never been out here before and boy was it a culture shock coming from our little hamlet of New York City. The lights, buffets, and casinos were all so in your face that we had little time to digest it all. We indulged at the buffet at the Bellagio and it was amazing. To say that I was like a kid in a candy store was an understatement. We left just 13 hours after we had landed but the bug to comeback had crawled its way into my psyche.
What made you decide to move to Las Vegas?
When Jeff had called me in early 2018 and said that we should open in Las Vegas, I thought he ate something wrong. But he said that there was an energy of explosive development here and I trusted that. Jeff and I looked all throughout California and the places where we were looking just didn’t feel right. So, I took a leap of faith and moved out here with Jeff. Boy was I pleasantly surprised. The development was explosive, but more than that, the food community out here are some of the most selfless and helpful folks that I have ever met in the industry.
Looking back on it, there isn’t anywhere else that we could grow our roots with Valencian Gold.
Where do you like to eat breakfast in Las Vegas?
When I’m awake and not at the restaurant, I love heading to Café Breizh on Fort Apache. Pierre is an awesome dude and his food is amazing, one of the best quiches I’ve ever had on either side of the pond. The heart and technique he display’s everyday there is inspiring!
What about lunch?
Please see above. Just kidding, for lunch on my days off you could probably find me at Bajamar Seafood & Tacos. That place is just flat awesome, from the fish tacos to the tostadas and oh man that campechana! Great service, amazing food and relaxed vibe you can’t beat that. Plus, it’s awesome that they opened so close by on Blue Diamond.
If you’re going out for dinner, which restaurants do you like to frequent? What makes them special? Any dishes you can recommend?
I’m a sucker for sushi. For dinner, when I can get out, I love hitting Kura Revolving Sushi Bar. It’s a fun atmosphere with a conveyor belt. The quality is great and the price is great too. I love to get the hand rolls any of them, but I have a special place in my heart for the spicy tuna hand roll. Aside from Kura, I do enjoy our neighbors across Rainbow, Oyshi Sushi. They have the all-you-can-eat option and their quality is wonderful. Plus, we’re getting to know the sushi chefs there and they usually hit us with their delicious and wild creations.
Where do you like to dine for a special occasion?
I went to this place once, Kaiseki Yuzu in Henderson. But once was enough to show me how special this place is. They only do omakase, and the chef only speaks Japanese. His creativity, respect for the seasons and quality of ingredients is impressive. The dining room pays respect to Japanese tradition and the service is a reflection of that level of attention to detail. Yuzu should have a Michelin star, that’s how great my meal was there.
If I’m feeling like I need a bit of dessert, I’ll definitely head to Sweets Raku. Their work is just flat ridiculous, combine the amazing desserts with an amazing wine list that features a few really great tokaijs, you’re definitely in for a treat.
Are there any brunches in town you like to frequent?
Please see Café Breizh. Just. Plain. Dope!
Let’s say you want to hang out with your friends after work. Where do you like to go?
For the record, I agree 100 percent with Jeff and going to Pure Indian Cuisine by the airport. It’s a great time and great food.
For late-night vittles, I would make it a point to head down to Tacos El Gordo. Their open late on the weekends and I love their tripa tacos, those are so yummy. Also, Oyishi stays open a bit later so it’s a great spot for late night and after service.
Finally if I’m feeling like tying one on, I just dig the vibe at Frankie’s Tiki Room on Charleston. The place reminds me of Otto’s Shrunken Head in the East Village back home in New York City. Drinks are delicious and the vibe is whatever you want it to be.
• All Coverage of Valencian Gold [ELV]
• All Dining Confidentials [ELV]