Pao by Paul Qui
Paul Qui’s first restaurant outside of Austin, Pao is one of two buzzy new eateries at the Faena Hotel. The James Beard Award-winning chef has brought his signature inventive cuisine to a setting fit for the jet-set crowd that Faena is sure to draw. Qui has a way of intensifying flavors—and his cuisine blends influences from his native Philippines, Japan, France, and Spain—so Japanese sea bream crudo with kumquat and smoked soy tastes bright, citrusy, and silky all at once. His extremely Instagrammable uni dish with corn, kalamansi juice, and chile de arbol comes served in a broiled sea urchin shell over a bed of dried spices. Even a side dish of mashed Japanese yam tastes sublimely smooth thanks to the addition of butter, sake, and ginger. In contrast to the rest of the hotel, the décor here is rather understated (dark wood midcentury chairs, curved leather banquettes, hand-painted tropical foliage on the walls), except, of course, for the 12-foot-tall golden unicorn sculpture by Damien Hirst commanding attention in the center of the room.