Ten years ago, the Institute of Culinary Education awarded New Yorker Paras Shah and San Franciscan Jeffrey Weiss a scholarship to study Spanish cuisine in Spain. Given their shared love of paella, the duo decided to fulfill a bigger dream: bringing the Valencian rice dish to the U.S. in an affordable and approachable way. The friends first looked at LA, then found a spot where they could launch the fast casual-concept—called Valencian Gold—right here in Las Vegas, on Rainbow just south of Windmill. The restaurant takes after the Chipotle model, in which your meal is prepared to order along an assembly line of fresh ingredients.
If you’re not familiar with paella, know this:
The preparation process is laborious, to say the least. But Shah and Weiss have mastered the old-world techniques and found ways to make the dish quicker to produce and easier for customers to enjoy.
First, you choose a paella base (chicken, seafood, mushroom-chickpea or harvest grains), and then your greens (arugula, romaine, spinach, supergreens). Next, load up on the protein of your choice (grilled chicken, steak, lamb, shrimp, beans or vegan ratatouille). There are also a number of items you can add atop your paella bowl, including a delicious charred broccoli dip with Manchego and Parmesan cheeses, a romesco sauce and a vegan tahini aioli with black garlic. An assortment of toppings—from an apple slaw and a sweet corn salad to Basque pickled peppers and crispy chorizo— follows, and then you finish it off with a dressing, like the zesty fresh parsley and garlic sauce.
If you can’t make up your mind, there are also six bowl specials with various protein bases on offer. To make the whole process easier, all bowls—custom or not—are priced at $9.75.
VALENCIAN GOLD 7960 S. Rainbow Blvd. #8000A, 702-776-7707. Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday, noon-7 p.m.