District One featuring Executive Chef Khai Vu

Executive Chef Khai Vu at Vegas Food & Wine

District One Owner/Chef Khai Vu

Restaurant owners will often say that opening a restaurant has been a "lifelong dream." But for District One's Khai Vu, that phrase might really be true! After all, the son of restaurateurs (his family owns the locally beloved Pho So One) has been talking about opening his own place with best friend Eric Chin (who also grew up in the business) since the two were in high school. Five years of searching on both sides of the Pacific led them finally back home, joined by third partner Vy Nguyen, to Vegas' exploding Asian district around Spring Mountain Blvd.

"We travelled to Tokyo, Hong Kong, even Mexico and Canada," says Vu--not just considering where to open, but also experiencing culinary inspiration. So, while Vu's background is definitely Vietnamese, he isn't afraid to experiment with ingredients and flavors and traditions.

Take his already-renowned lobster pho for example. "Everyone kept asking me to do shrimp pho," he says, of the traditionally beef or chicken-based noodle soup turned decadent delight. "I said, 'why not lobster, it tastes better!'"

 "I'm a risk taker," he laughs. "I see a dish, look at it and try different techniques. If you don't try, you don't know! " That's evident in addictive dishes like his shaken beef salad, oxtail fried rice and fish tacos. But Vu adds, "I don't like 20 ingredients in one dish. I like to keep flavors simple, but have fun."  


Khai credits his father with teaching him both cooking and the restaurant business, but it definitely wasn't the easy route. "'You have to start from the ground up,'" he recalls his father saying, "and he ground me pretty hard!"


Despite the long time in finding a spot for their restaurant, Vu and his partners managed to open District One in an incredibly fast 30 days--keep most of the decor, and even most of the staff from the Cajun restaurant that held the space previously! He's quickly earned a loyal following not just for the food, beer and wine selections and relaxed vibe, but also for a generous happy hour and liberal hours--staying open until 3 a.m. every night so that industry friends can come by after their own restaurants close.

"Keep customers happy, keep my staff happy--I'm happy!"

Join us at this one-of-a-kind event which will be held at the legendary Casino and Resort in fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada. This year's event benefits The James Beard Foundation