If there was ever a question whether a fine-dining concept could work in a residential area like Rhodes Ranch, the Black Sheep is the answer. The Vietnamese-American haunt is the vision of former Aureole and DB Brasserie sous chef Jamie Tran, and it has been one of the Valley’s most talked-about restaurants since opening in May.
As executive chef, Tran is bringing foods from her childhood to the forefront, sharing comforting Vietnamese dishes and exploring the cuisine beyond popular dishes like pho and banh mi.
“In our household, my mom and dad did not make pho,” she says. “My mom made more comfort food, and my dad did more Mandarin food. They lived in Korea, too, so I grew up eating kimchi when I was little—then [we] moved to Texas, so we ate steak and potatoes.”
That geographical fusion of flavors and memories is reflected in Tran’s menu, inspired by dishes of her youth. “The first time I ever fell in love with cooking, I was 3,” Tran says. “We had a blackout, and my mom [cooked] and the pork belly is what I remember. I remember smelling it. I remember the weather. I remember everything about that.”
While the restaurant is named after her—she says she was the black sheep of her family—Tran created it with others in mind. “I told my San Francisco State professor, ‘I’m moving out to Vegas and I’m going to open a restaurant and help other people’,” she says. “I want to encourage my cooks to be more than just a cook. If I can give them an opportunity to push and do their own thing, I’m happy.”