Creative Vietnamese fare plus seafood specials plus cajun favorites is the inspired equation at the stylish District One.
Lobster is served at District One.
Khai Vu knows a little something about Vietnamese cuisine in Vegas. Born in Ho Chi Minh City, the largest city in Vietnam, he moved to the U.S. with his family in 1993 at age 11. For the last 20 years he has helped his family run the popular restaurant Pho So 1, first by peeling potatoes and eventually as head chef. But in deciding to strike out on his own, he saw an opportunity to appeal to an underserved market.
“A lot of Vietnamese restaurants are fast-paced restaurants—you eat and you go,” he says. “But sometimes you want to hang out and go at a different pace.” His response is District One Kitchen & Bar, an airy urban-chic space with corrugated metal ceilings and a quality sound system—a stylish departure from the usual grab-and-go Chinatown diners.
The cuisine is primarily Vietnamese, with strong influences from a number of other cultures. You’ll find Vietnamese appetizers such as beef wraps and lemongrass beef skewers. An entire section of the menu is dedicated to the traditional Vietnamese comfort food pho, including one made with a one-and-a-quarter-pound whole lobster (ain’t that America?). But you’ll also find Chinese pork belly buns and Japanese-inspired yellowtail sashimi “tacos” on gyoza wrapper shells. And there are “catch of the day” seafood specials prepared in all styles, depending on what species the chef can get live. Vu also nods to the old Cravin’ Cajun that once occupied the space, with crawfish, shrimp, crab legs, and clams in spicy seasoning, listed on the menu as “down n’ dirty” options. “I make it fun,” Vu says. “Keep it simple. I like to get creative, but not too much where you lose the touch of it.”
District One complements its intriguing food menu with a thoughtful—and often surprising—drink menu. Specialty cocktails include a coconut vodka mojito served in a whole coconut shell and the Vietnamese Donkey (basically a Moscow Mule made with sugarcane). But the real surprise is the wine list, which ranges from affordable and somewhat oddball offerings from Gobelsburger’s Grüner Veltliner ($33 per bottle) to heavy hitters like Opus One ($340 a bottle). 3400 S. Jones Blvd. #8, 702-413-6868