Last night, I watched some TV program about street food. It came to my screen via Netflix, so I don’t recall the name of the program. I do know that the only slightly annoying English host was in Mumbai and ate at lot food stalls. So when my husband and I wanted lunch to fortify ourselves for plant shopping, I was pre-disposed to an Indian buffet. The Tandoori Grill in the Table Mesa Shopping Center was convenient. We were at the front door (along with about a dozen others) when it was unlocked, so all the food was still hot and freshly prepared.
Acclaimed Japanese restaurant to open in Denver.
First Aspen, then Vail and next Denver. That’s been the trajectory that famed chef and restaurateur Nobuyuki Matsuhisa has taken in Colorado. Matsuhisa Cherry Creek will be a 7,800-square-foot restaurant at Steele Creek, which the developer describes as a “transformative” apartment and retail project at 1st Avenue and Steele Street in Denver. Steele Creek represents the best in Denver luxury apartment living. The 218-apartment mixed-use project boasts such amenities as a 24-hour concierge with premier resident services, a spectacular roof-deck pool and lounge, a fully appointed private entertainment lounge, a 24-hour fitness center and Matsuhisa with its world-renowned cuisine.
Matsuhisa Cherry Creek is expected to open at the end of 2015. The interior design will be handled by Denver- and Aspen-based Rowland + Broughton. Matsuhisa plans to service the roof deck pool atop the 12-story building. Residents will also be able to order food and drinks for their residences, as well as have Matsuhisa cater their events. And more prosaically, he restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner. Born and raised in Saitama, Japan, chef Matsuhisa is a classically trained sushi chef who developed his inventive style when he opened a sushi bar in Peru. His career has been defined by finding new ways of incorporating different cultures, ingredients and styles into Japanese cuisine. He opened his first Matsuhisa restaurant in the United States in Beverly Hills in 1987, and it soon became a magnet for food lovers and celebrities.
Matsuhisa was chosen as one of the Top Ten Restaurant Destinations in the world by the New York Times in 1993. Some of chef Matsuhisa’s personal honors from the culinary community include being named one of America’s 10 Best New Chefs by Food and Wine Magazine (1989), Southern California’s Rising Stars by Los Angeles Times Magazine (1998), induction into the Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America by the James Beard Foundation (2002), numerous nominations for Outstanding Chef by the James Beard Foundation (1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006), and being named One of the 11 Most Influential Chefs of the Decade by Madrid Fusion (2009).
Food Network found ChoLon on its dumpling search.
When I read the headline, “Where to Eat Great Dumplings” on the Food Network’s site, I knew that if Denver were on the dumpling list, ChoLon would be the selection — storied dish at sleek 16th Street eatery. Here’s what the site had to say:
Denver: ChoLon Modern Asian Bistro
“Denver may be better known for snow bunnies than snow peas, but Chef Lon Symensma (who cut his teeth at Buddakan, Spice Market and Jean Georges Shanghai) is making a name for himself at his modern upscale bistro in the lively LoDo district, where he presents wildly creative Southeast Asian-inspired dishes such as bacon “thrice fried rice” carbonara. He’s also managed to turn the traditional Asian soup dumpling on its head. Inspired by the classic French onion soup, Symensma fills his dumplings with sweet caramelized onions, melted Gruyère cheese and a sherry-infused broth that bursts when you bite into them.”
Longtime downtown Boulder sushi fave offers ramen bowls.
Like many foodies, I was quite fascinated when New York restaurateur David Chang launched Momofuku, an epicurean ramen restaurant on First Avenue in the “Far East Village” a decade or more ago. He re-elevated the classic Japanese noodle dish from the depths it has sunk to as super-cheap cellophane-wrapped dried noodles to be mixed with a flavor packet whose operative flavor is salt. Sure, I’ve boiled up many a packet of those soulless ramen noodles for a quick, cheap lunch, but the only way I could stomach them was when enhanced with Chinese sesame oil. How I longed to have a Momofuku clone down the street.
Now there is one, at least at lunch on weekends, when the estimable Sushi Tora has a small ramen menu at lunch. On a cold, gray winter day, my husband and I and another couple could think of little better than hot, filling ramen that had never met cellophane. And it is down the street — just five blocks away. The ramen dishes are rated like ski runs, but instead of green, blue and black, Sushi Tora rates shoyu for guests with “a lighter palate,” miso for those with “a stronger palate” and tonkutsu for those with “a strong palate.” The menu goes with a more detailed explanation of what these all mean.
Son of Hapa Sushi’s slogan is “Fast. Healthy. Delicious. Japanese.”
I don’t know imagine that “motomaki” is a real Japanese word. But in the fast-expanding realm of “fast casual” eateries, all that seems to count is the “concept.” With two dozen or so guests coming for Christmas Eve, the holiday letter left to write and, yes, the tree still to be decorated, we needed to go out for something quick and, hopefully, tasty. We decided to try Motomaki, a Japanese “concept” in the Twenty Ninth Street row that already contains ModMarket and Noodles & Co. In fact, the Motomaki layout closely resembles that of ModMarket. Since it is not part of a chain but the offspring of full-service Hapa Sushi, I was hopeful about the food quality.
I was immediately confused by the menu board, which offered “rolls” and “bowls” that seem to have the same ingredient selection — but with such mystifying options as the Seared Tuna Club (on toast? I didn’t imagine so), Kalby (Korean-style beef, kimchi and more) and Salmon Pole accessorized with bacon, asparagus, cucumber and other items no Hawaiian would recognize). In desperation, I selected a pre-programed roll and my husband a bowl. There’s also an à la carte Make-Your-Own Maki menu that requires choices in five steps from white or brown rice to a sauce choice. Step Three invites guests to choose up to four from The food was tasty enough but unmemorable — just as it is with most fast casual concepts, and in fact, better than most. I mistakenly ordered a Chardonnay — the worst excuse for wine I’ve ever sipped. I couldn’t drink it. Maybe I shold have tried the sake. Plus, my camera stopped working before our food was delivered.
Price check: Big Rolls & Big Bowls, $7-$12; Make-Your-Own-Maki, individual ingredients, 50¢-$2.25; Greens, $5-$8; Poke, $12.
Slopeside modern Japanese, sushi and ramen bar opens today.
When I was at Steamboat early in fall, chef/owner Brian Vaughn of bistro c.v. and LOW Country Kitchen and his wife Katy welcomed a group of food journalists to their downtown Steamboat Springs restaurants and then gave us a tour on the slopeside space that was then being remodeled into YAMA, a cutting-edge Japanese restaurant, sushi bar and “rameneria” (my word, not theirs).
YAMA is opening today, just steps from the esteemed Café Diva and within view of Gondola Square at the ski area’s main base. At bistro c.v., Brian Vaughn became known for serving exquisite composed dishes that taste as fabulous as they look. He promises the same with sashimi , sushi and ramen, linchpins of Japanese foods. The Vaughns have invested in top-line kitchen appliances including the stunning fabulous Jade Custom Suite that chefs drool over. Here are what the restaurant looks like — and it is a beauty:
The Vaughns invited us to a preview of the YAMA menu at bistro c.v. . Click here for my post from that occasion, including images of such divine dishes as Hamachi tartare, carpaccio of Waygu beef and steamed buns. The new restaurant has an open kitchen, so guests can see where the magic occurs. For the moment at least, YAMA is open for après-ski starting at 3 p.m. and dinner.
Fine versions of familiar dishes in suburban strip mall.
Colorado’s Front Range is awash with pho restaurants, and most serve not only the Vietnamese soup but an array of other Southeast Asian and even Chinese dishes. The menus seem interchangeable, but Lafayette’s Pho Café stands out in terms of flavor. The outside likes like any other Asian restaurant in a strip mall, but the food is much better than most.
Turns out that when my husband attended the Lafayette Peach Festival a summer or two ago, we ducked into in the strip mall’s little arcade to briefly escape the sun as we walked toward the card, but it took our friends Michael and Dale to actually introduce us to the place. And we’re grateful.