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FE&SEditorial Archives2004April — Facility Design Project of the Month

Ah Sin at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel & Casino

Photos by Adam Blumberg

Woks, Korean barbecues, steamers, fryers, display cases and Japanese sushi knives are among the equipment and supplies that are on display at Ah Sin, the newest restaurant in the Paris Las Vegas Hotel & Casino.

East has met West in a new, eclectic concept in Las Vegas. A combination of specialties from China, Thailand, Japan, Korea, Malaysia and France are featured on an expansive menu at Ah Sin, a restaurant and bar located in the Paris Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip. Positioned in a long, narrow, ground-floor space in one corner of this 2,900-room hotel, several food-themed sections allow customers to view menu preparation at a satay bar, a sushi counter, an Asian grill and a combination pantry/dessert and dim sum station. Guests can also participate interactively in food preparation at the satay and sushi bars and Asian grill. Though a majority of preparation takes place at these stations under the supervision of Executive Chef Yuk Sing Wong, some is also done in a basement kitchen.

The décor of Ah Sin, which means "always lucky" in Cantonese, is as eclectic as the cuisine. Selected by interior designer Heather Kovacs of Kovacs and Associates, Los Angeles, with input from the entire project team, colors of red, maroon, pink, gray and silver are combined in a setting that brings together contemporary Zen elements and modern chic with architectural influences from Old World France and the Orient.

The long, narrow dimensions of the 3,055-square-foot room (40 feet by 90 feet), existing steel columns and other structural elements, and the inclusion of several display stations required the installation of specific types of equipment. "The package had to be appropriate to each featured cuisine, as well as be efficient to use in order to minimize the amount of space allocated to any one area," explained the project's foodservice consultant Adam Blumberg, principal, JEM West, Las Vegas. Blumberg's firm also was involved in all other foodservice operations in the Paris Hotel.

One of the first stations seen by customers as they enter into Ah Sin is the sushi counter. On the front counter, chefs' selections are displayed. While customers watch, chefs design nigiri, temaki, sashimi, hosomaki, rolls and specials using Japanese knives that are designed with a flat edge. Fish is stored in an undercounter fish file refrigerator until needed, then cut and filleted on three boards, which are set side-by-side, recessed into the counter and cover a water trough. "The area can be used as a scrapping sink as well as a cutting station," noted Blumberg, who said he first installed this setup at one of his other Las Vegas projects, the restaurant Nobu. All the water used in hand sinks at this station, as well as at others, is controlled by foot pedals. At one end of the sushi bar is a petite service bar, which is, according to Blumberg, "the smallest I've ever designed."

Across from the sushi counter is the satay bar. Chefs' selections are displayed here in glass-fronted cases. Korean barbecue grills are built in, so customers can either watch or assist while chefs cook Malaysian satay, which is made with a choice of chicken, beef, pork, prawns, lamb, scallops, lobster or short ribs, and sauces. "We wanted this station and others to be fun for customers so they could participate in the activity," emphasized Paris Las Vegas Hotel's executive chef, Olivier Dubreuil.

Crpe makers for another featured menu item, Cantonese crperie, are positioned nearby. Cantonese crperie, Ah Sin's form of moo shu, feature varieties made with barbecued pork, chicken, vegetables and roast duck.

A larger charbroiler, used to prepare satay items in quantities, is positioned behind the counter in the prep area. Also in this section is a display warming cabinet in which barbecued meats and poultry are held, including suckling pig, chicken, pork and duck that have been prepared in the downstairs kitchen. When an order for barbecue is received, cooks cut the items on a work counter, then add particular sauces. These sauces, and those for satay, are also prepared downstairs and stored in holding units on the main floor station until served. Menu items featured include roast suckling pig, chicken in the Ko Samet style, Chinese barbecued pork and crispy roast duck.

A few steps away from the satay bar is a station divided into three sections for service of dim sum, dessert and salads. Varieties of dim sum, which have been prepared in the downstairs kitchen, are cooked here in a steamer. Refrigerated cold rails, steamers and cutting boards are used to prepare salads such as Sarawak roasted duck, Laotian shredded papaya and shrimp, and Pacific Rim warm asparagus. Desserts, which are prepared under the watchful eye of the Paris Hotel's award-winning Executive Pastry Chef Jean-Claude Canestrier, are made with Asian ingredients but inspired by French tradition.

Several steps from the satay bar is the main grill cooking area and chef's counter where more than half the menu is prepared. Among the many pieces of equipment here are woks with brick firing chambers that get extremely hot and, therefore, facilitate rapid cooking. These quick-cooking woks are used for a wide variety of menu items, including Marianas prawns, charred chicken, Mongolian beef, "gilded lily" pork chops, Mongolian khorkhog (lamb chops) and a beef and broccoli dish. The woks are also used for cooking vegetables.

Adjacent to the wok lines are flat-bottom fryers that staff employ to produce dishes such as calamari and shrimp and scallop tempura. Also at this station are live tanks that hold dungeness crabs, shrimp, black bass and goby. Adjacent are rice warmers, a pasta cooker, a convection steamer, a griddle, hot wells to hold soups and sauces, a reach-in refrigerator and ample undercounter refrigeration.


Key Equipment List

1. Fish tank
2. Floor sink
3. Hand sink
4. Roll-in refrigerator
5. Cash register
6. Cashier's counter
7. Fire suppression system
8. Control panel
9. Worktable w/sink
10. Double overshelf, wall-mounted
11. Rice cooker
12. Service station
13. Chinese wok range
14. Flat-bottom fryers
15. Spreader cabinet
16. Exhaust ventilator
17. Rice warmers
18. Kitchen printer
19. Heat lamp
20. Chef's counter, refrigerated base
21. Hot well
22. Drop-in pasta cooker
23. Soup wells
24. Shelf, wall-mounted
25. Espresso brewer
26. Beverage counter
27. Hot water dispenser
28. Milk dispenser
29. Coffee brewer
30. Water and ice station
31. Iced-tea brewer
32. Reach-in refrigerator
33. Convection steamer
34. Griddle w/stand
35. Double overshelf, table-mounted
36. Hot holding cabinet
37. Display case
38. Work counter, refrigerated base
39. Microwave ovens
40. Order station for servers
41. Soda conduit
42. Scupper trough
43. Liquor guns
44. Liquor conduit
45. Liquor solenoids
46. Liquor intelligence housing
47. Recessed blender station
48. Bartender's station
49. Soda gun
50. Bottle cooler
51. Mobile storage cart
52. Sake warmer
53. Sushi station
54. Backbar refrigerator
55. Sushi case
56. Mobile tables
57. Sushi bar
58. Countertop oven
59. Backbar dry cabinet
60. Backbar
61. Work counter
62. Shelf
63. Charbroiler
64. Korean barbecue grill
65. Crpe maker
66. Satay bar
67. Mortar and pestle
68. Hot display cabinet
69. Cutting board

Shelving in this area and throughout the restaurant is designed to complement the décor. "We avoided using exposed stainless steel as much as possible," explained Blumberg. "For example, some shelving is made from laminated glass and glass mullions. Other shelving brackets are hidden to enhance the attractiveness of the front-of-the-house display areas." In addition, the front of the chef's counter was made with stamped-powder stainless steel, whose surface resembles snakeskin. Recessed fixtures were positioned to spotlight the bright colors of the foods. Also contributing to the striking ambiance are glass wall tiles, surfaces made with Corian, granite and zodiac stone, and Asian statues positioned on upper shelves.

As mentioned earlier, much of the food cooked on the main level is first prepared below in a narrow kitchen and brought upstairs in a service elevator. Food used here is transported from the hotel's warehouse, which is located on the opposite side of the facility, and from its cook-chill area where soups and some sauces are made. A duck-drying room is equipped with racks that hold the poultry and high-velocity fans that assist by drying ducks in a sanitary manner. A duck smoker is used to cook the poultry, which is used in several Ah Sin dishes.

Also in the basement kitchen are four walk-in coolers for holding (respectively) seafood, poultry, meats and produce. "We wanted to keep different types of foods separate to avoid cross-contamination and odor transfer," noted Blumberg. Ample storage space was crucial to the success of Ah Sin, added Dubreuil, because the menu requires so much mis en place. "It would be inefficient for staff to walk to the other side of the hotel during the day to pick up ingredients," he stressed.

Additional equipment in the kitchen includes prep tables, a table for making noodles and a 10-foot-long, two-tiered fish trough, segmented to hold different types of fish on crushed ice so that their flavors don't migrate. A poultry thawing trough was also installed, so these items don't have to sit in their own juices while coming up to room temperature. "Though the thawing trough is in a walk-in box," commented Blumberg, "it is both mobile and plumbed to a floor sink outside the box."

Design Capsule

Opened in March 2003, Ah Sin is located in the Paris Las Vegas Hotel, at ground level facing the Las Vegas Strip. It offers a variety of popular pan-Asian dishes, including specialties from China, Thailand, Japan, Korea and Malaysia, as well as French-inspired desserts. Guests have a choice of ordering la carte from their tables or cooking interactively with chefs at the satay bar, sushi bar or Asian grill. Lunch entrées average $14, while dinner entrées average $25. The restaurant operates from 11 a.m. until 11 p.m. daily. Typically, staffing here includes one chef, four sous chefs and 25 hourly employees. The 3,055-square-foot restaurant has 125 seats indoors and 125 seats outdoors. The Paris Hotel has 15 kitchens, nine restaurants and 140,000-square-feet of banquet space. Total hotel foodservice staffing includes a total of 1,500 employees. The hotel itself employs 3,800.

Owner: Caesar Entertainment, Las Vegas
Senior Vice President of Food and Beverage, Paris Las Vegas: Robert Zitto
Project Manager, Park Place Entertainment: Glenn Pollack
General Manager Ah Sin: Tim Moy
Executive Chef, Paris Las Vegas: Olivier Dubreuil
Executive Chef, Ah Sin: Yuk Sing Wong
Sous Chef, Satay and Sushi Bars: Thomas Shirasaka
Executive Pastry Chef, Paris Las Vegas: Jean-Claude Canestrier
Architect: Youngblood, Wucherer & Sparer, Las Vegas
Interior Design: Heather Kovacs, Kovacs and Associates, Los Angeles
Foodservice Consultant: Adam Blumberg, JEM West, Las Vegas
Building Contractor: Penta Building Group, Las Vegas
Equipment Dealer: Duray/J.F. Duncan Industries Inc., Commerce, Calif.

Now that Ah Sin has been in operation for several months, the chefs and Blumberg agree that the long hours spent to design efficiencies into the restaurant's stations were well worth the time. Taking an old space - the restaurant sits in an area dominated by a replica of the Paris Opera House and was previously used as staff offices - and transforming it into a modern, eclectic dining environment was challenging - to say the least - for everyone involved in the project. With a name like "always lucky," Ah Sin must have been destined to succeed.

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