Category Archives: Asian

Tastes of Thailand at Aloy

Freshness stressed at stylish Ballpark restaurant.

027I was fortunate to attend an opening party at Aloy Modern Thai in the cold grasp of last winter.  The flames in the double-sided fireplace and the piquant cuisine  from a very warm country provided a welcome contrast to the nippy outside. There were so many courses and so many paired adult beverages that I hit the wall before the end of the feast, The many dishes were so very good, but I was really on overload. Read my post to see what awesome abundance came to the table. At the time I wondered how sisters Bo Bean and Arisa Chanchokpong who own this restaurant and another in Boulder stay so slim. Several months along and meeting them again, I still wonder.

I was therefore delighted that Visit Denver hosted its most recent media reception in this welcome and wonderful restaurant. Rather than the overwhelming inaugural dinner, there were select small plates. With an opportunity to savor came the full impact of the restaurant’s commitment to super-fresh ingredients, especially the seafood and vegetables that are so important in Thai cuisine. Ten local farms are credited on the men for for supplying sustainable ingredients.

Aloy's Mai Tai made with a Thai spirit called Mehkong, Triple Sec, lime, an orange/almond syrup made in-house orgaet and Aztec bitter.
Aloy’s Mai Tai made with a Thai spirit called Mehkong, Triple Sec, lime, an orange/almond syrup called orgaet made in-house  and Aztec bitters.

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Matsuhisa Now Open in Denver

Pricy, precious Japanese restaurant in Cherry Creek North.

Matsuhisa-logoColorado’s first Matsuhisa opened years ago in a historic former home in downtown Aspen. The state’s second is in a fancy condo/retail complex called Solaris in Vail.  And the third, Matsuhisa Denver,  finally opened in Denver’s Cherry Creek North.  After a very long build-up, its debut was stealth-like. For months, the website promised that it was coming.

And suddenly, it is here in the posh Steele Creek Apartments . I haven’t been there, but I’ve seen photos online of a very Zen-like, tranquil space (when it’s empty of well-heeled, stylish diners anyway) with lots of wood. Lots and lots of wood. It joins the extended family of Matsuhisa and Nobu locations around the world — all the brainchild of chef Nobu Matsuhisa, whose first venture was not in Japan or the US but in Peru.

98 North Steele Street, Denver; 303-329-6628.

Pei Wei: Chinese in Name Only

Melange of unathenticity in chain version of Chinese food.

005When we were in Australia a few weeks ago, I had a lust for Chinese food as soon as I learned that Sydney has a Chinatown. We found a good restaurant called Haymarket, uncrowded in the early evening, and enjoyed well-prepared entrees from a huge menu. Click here for my report.

Like just about every eatery at Twenty Ninth Street, Pei Wei has a fast-casual format, pleasant decor, friendly crew and music over the sound system.
Like just about every eatery at Twenty Ninth Street, Pei Wei has a fast-casual format, pleasant decor, friendly crew and music over the sound system.

Yesterday, it was my husband who wanted to go out for a Chinese dinner. I had gotten a $10 gift card to Pei Wei at some event that I can’t recall, so rather than going to China Gourmet, our standby, we headed for Twenty Ninth Street. Big mistake, food-wise.

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A Real Meal in Sydney’s Chinatown

Living in a fly-over state, I welcome Chinese authenticity.

P1080316I love Chinatowns where the food is interesting, even when not all the ingredients are appealing but where the menu features abundant options), where the decor is secondary to the food and where the waiters and cooks don’t look like me. On our last evening in Sydney, we found the Haymarket Chinese Restaurant — the kind I treasure.

Decor is simple as can be. Paper banners in Chinese, bright lighting, lots of tables for lots of people -- and a robust early evening take-out business.
Decor is simple as can be. Paper banners in Chinese, bright lighting, lots of tables for lots of people — and a robust early evening take-out business.
You know it's geared for locals when places are set with chopsticks but no metal flatware.
You know it’s geared for locals when places are set with chopsticks but no metal flatware.
Commendable hot and sour soup, not overly cornstarched,
Commendable hot and sour soup, not overly cornstarched,
Honey chicken. There's a bowl of rice on the side, but otherwise, chicken rules the roost. (Sorry!)
Honey chicken. There’s a bowl of rice on the side, but otherwise, chicken rules the roost. (Sorry!)
A stir-fry of vegetables and tofu atop crisp noodles.
A stir-fry of vegetables and tofu atop crisp noodles.

355 Sussex Street, CBD, Sydney, NS;  (02) 9268 0988.

Haymarket Chinese Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Aloy Thai Opening Today in Denver

Expanded, enhanced branch of Boulder restaurant in Ballpark area.

037When they selected  February 1, sisters Bo Bean and Arisa Chanchokpong didn’t pick the most auspicious day to open Aloy Modern Thai, an uptick from their Boulder eatery.  Big snows are forecast for this evening, and I’m not sure what the chefs they’ve brought in from Asia will make of it. But snow melts and warm weather will arrive, and by then, I’m guessing that Denverites will have come to appreciate Aloy’s food, as Boulderites have taken to the original. Smaller than the Denver location and set in a Boulder strip mall, it certainly is one of the best in town.

I got a chance to sample an infinite procession of dishes during a media preview last week on an evening mild enough for a pleasant walk from the 16th Street Mall. Located in in the former Trillium space on Larimer Street, its decorative makeover was largely cosmetic.  In addition to Thai classics, there is a definite Japanese undercurrent that appears here and there on the menu.

Guests were presented with 18 courses along with sips of a like number of excellent and unusual beverages to match. Even with modest tasting samples. The menu boasts of a farm-to-table connection and lists farms from which they source seasonal ingredients are sourced.  The food was dazzling. Here goes with a sample of the sampling, as it were:

Passed hors d'oeuvres included Cracking Tofu.
Passed hors d’oeuvres included Crackling Tofu with shitake bacon, a roll of cucumber and miso sauce.
Smoked Verlasso salmon, a premium farmed salmon from Chile. It is served on an arched yucca chip with orange aioli.
Smoked Verlasso salmon, a premium farmed salmon from Chile. It is served on an arched yucca chip with orange aioli.

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Uncle Joe’s from Hong Kong to Denver

Small-plate sampling very promising.

UncleJoes-logoUncle Joe’s: A Hong Kong Bistro is an intriguing addition to the downtown Denver dining scene. As much as I can piece together, it is the brainchild of Dr. Dennis Law, a retired physician who wants to bring Hong Kong food to the US — this being the flagship of the concept. I don’t have a Law family tree, but I think this is the Dr. Law who also produces the dazzling Shen Yun stage show of music, dance, costumes of culture. It comes to Denver again in March.

But I digress. The family’s prosperity goes back to the real Uncle Joe, who a made a fortune as the manufacturer of most of the world’s Star Wars action figures in the last quarter of the 20th century. He was also something of connoisseur, and  Uncle Joe’s Bistro honors the namesake’s passion for food and the good life. “Uncle” is a term of endearment used to address male elders in the Chinese culture, and the restaurant began as a labor of love by Joe’s four sons to honor a man who loves living the good life, which includes his passion for food in general, and the pork dish called cha shao in particular.

Modern and stylish restaurant with traditional Chinese accents.
Modern and stylish restaurant with traditional Chinese accents.

I was invited to a tasting of some of the restaurant’s specialties, but was handicapped by come straight from a French luncheon at the Brown Palace. I ate what I could and enjoyed every bite. Uncle Joe’s is down the street from the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, so I’m betting I get back there — with room in my stomach to actually eat. The executive chef Thach Tran came to Uncle Joe’s from ChoLon, where he was the longtime executive sous-chef.

Set up for a Hot Pot, an Uncle Joe's specialty.
Set up for a Hot Pot, an Uncle Joe’s specialty.
Crazy Dumplings are crazy tasty.
Crazy Dumplings are crazy tasty.
Steamed bun-style slider.
Steamed bun-style slider.

Wagyu Beef.

Uncle Joe’s: A Hong Kong Bistro is in the soaring Spire Building at 891 Fourteenth St., Denver; 720-330-8487.

Uncle Joe's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Terrific Thai in Claremont

Warm welcome in Claremont village Thai eatery.

042Bangkok-born Joyce Patra studied hotel hospitality and management in Thailand and Australia before moving to Los Angeles in 1994. She started working for such chains as Panda Inn, Panda Panda and Benihana, but sprouted wings in 2003 and opened Bangkok Blue Thai Cuisine in LaVerne. Fast-forward another decade, when she sold it to open 50-Fifty in Claremont’s village expansion. It has become a favorite of our friends who live there.

Tables are set with almost Zen-like simplicity.
Tables are set with almost Zen-like simplicity.

The space is clean-lined and contemporary, with high ceilings, a creative color palette on the walls and white tables and plates so that the food shines. It is described as Asian fusion, but there is more Thai than anything else. Fresh, clean tastes and presentations match the décor.

046050049051048052

Price check: At dinner, starters, $8-10;  soups and salads (sharable by two to three), $10-$15; meat, poultry and seafood entrées, $12-$20; rice and noodle dishes, $12-$15; vegetables and tofu, $10-$12.

201 North Indian Hill Boulevard, Claremont, California; 909-621-5599.

50-Fifty Asian Fusion Cuisine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato