Category Archives: Asian

Vegan Chinese Food in Boulder

Table Mesa Shopping Center ‘s low-meat eatery.

When visiting Chinese markets and asking for menu translations, I have joked that “in China, they’ll eat anything that doesn’t eat them first.” I’ve seen (but never wanted to try) some really weird stuff. I thought that if I ever stumbled across a vegan restaurant over there, I’d be relieved.

Legions of Boulder’s many vegetarians and vegans are presumably equally relived that Tsing Tao Chinese Restaurant has lots of vegan dishes on the menu as well as a vegan buffet on Mondays and Thursdays. I’m not sure how long this restaurant, named after a popular Chinese beer, has been around, but we just heard about it and decided to try it. It is spacious, happily is not too noisy and is staffed by efficient, accommodating servers.  But note – If you want an itemized bill, you might have to ask for it.

Sushi and fruit (some fresh, some canned) dominate one part of the buffet.
Vegan versions of popular Chinese dishes do a good job of mimicking the original. Nothing, however, is highly or distinctively flavored.

It serves lunch and dinner both off the menu and buffet-style. The menu features a page of vegan offerings, plus that vegan buffet, which features respectable vegan versions of beef, chicken and shrimp dishes, plus a couple of platters of sushi. For my taste, many of the items were a tad too sweet for my taste. My husband order his favorites (hot and sour soup, crab wontons, sesame chicken), which he pronounced “okay but not special.”

Tsing Tao under Snarf’s on the northeast part of the Table Mesa Shopping Center, 607 South Broadway, Boulder; 303-494-6228.

Ramen Competition Coming Up

Five Denver chefs compete for a good cause.

Ramen — that cheap student staple that comes in a cellophane package with its own (usually salty) flavor packet– rises to ethereal heights when five gifted Denver chefs who do a lot with contemporary Asian cuisine prepare their versions from scratch. They compete for the title of Ramen Showdown Shogun on Monday, November 13 from 6 to 10 p.m. with guests slurping (or not) and doing the judging.

Departure Restaurant + Lounge hosts the event. Its own chef, Gregory Gourdet competes against Steve Redzikowski (Acorn, Oak on Fourteenth), Lon Symensma (ChoLon Modern Asian Bistro and others), Tommy Lee (Uncle, Hop Alley) and Corey Baker (Sushi Ronin). Guests attending the ramen showdown vote for a winner and watch the live results unfold on a 55-inch screen.

Each guest gets to try five ramen tasting bowls plus  Departure’s bite-sized Koji-Chestnut ice cream with persimmon and miso butterscotch dessert for $30 including tax and tip. There’s also an optional five-course sake pairing for $20.

A portion of the proceeds goes to Project Angel Heart, a fabulous organization that  has delivered 335,000 meals to more than 2,900 Coloradans living with AIDS or other life-threatening illness this year.

Departure Restaurant + Lounge is located at 249 Columbine Street, Denver. FoMoInfo or tickets, call the restaurant at 720-772-5020.

Himalayan Fare in North Boulder

Mandala Infusion serves Tibetan and related dishes.

My husband and I recently visited the Himalayan region (Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan). Let’s just say we were there for the culture and the mountains, not for the cuisine. Most of out meals were in hotels and tourist-oriented restaurants — mostly family-style and mostly blanded out for perceived American tastes.

This innocent-looking pilaf, in a little restaurant in Lhasa, was booby-trapped with small chicken bones.

I suppose it was just as well. On one free night in Lhasa, we went across the street from our hotel to a cute local restaurant whose exterior had a curiously Alpine roofline. The inside was cozy. The food was simple, and with no momos on the menu, I ordered the simplest of dishes, rice with chicken. The cooked chicken, bones and all, was hacked into tiny pieces — unpleasant.

Still, feeling a longing for things Himalayan, we went to Mandala Infusion, a sparkling restaurant on North Broadway that had previously been the ABC Café and a Thai restaurant — even concurrently with the café operating in the morning and the restaurant for dinner. Now, a large prayer wheel is stationed at the entrance.

The dinner/small plate menu does offer momos, no yak (but yak cheese), as well some dishes (notably Golden Beet and Quinoa Salad and Cabbage Kimchi) that that don’t seem Tibetan, but what do I know?

Traditional low-sitting sanngha tables remained unoccupied during our visit.
Golden Beet and Quinoa Salad on greens with tomato, cabbage and more. (Sorry, I didn’t write down all the ingredients.)
Momos available with lamb or veggies.
Tingbuns, which are sliders available filled with pork belly (shown here) or tofu.

Price check: At dinner, small plates, $6-$12; larger plates, $15-$19; sides, $3-$5.

4479 North Broadway, Boulder; 720-370-5800.
Mandala Infusion Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

U.S. Restaurant Named World’s Best

Colorado restaurants and chefs have done passably well in domestic “best” and “top” lists, but even our finest have never been on a key global list. New York’s Eleven Madison Park was named the best restaurant on the planet by the World’s 50 Best Restaurants, a list that bears the implication of an organization whose name seems self-serving.

The four leaves of Eleven Madison Park’s logo is a vague monochrome echo of that of the late Four Seasons’ trees.

Other U.S. restaurants in the top 50 are Blue Hill at Stone Barns,  Pocantico Hills, NY at No. 11; Le Bernardin, New York at 17; Alinea in Chicago at 21; Saison in San Francisco at 37 and Cosme in New York at 40.

Melbourne’s new designer hotel, QT Melbourne, has partnered with the World’s 50 Best Restaurants,is proud to be the official hotel of the 2017 event program. The World’s 50 Best chefs are set to experience the unique hospitality of QT Hotels and Resorts, with the entire group staying there during the program.

Biju’s in Boulder

Denver-born South Indian restaurant resides in Whole Foods.

I’d heard all sorts of good things about Biju’s Little Curry Shop in RiNo, but have not yet gotten there. It’s actually come to me with a small food counter inside the big Whole Foods. The offerings are limited and each dish comes in a bowl, but the Chicken Vindaloo so spicy, so well-balanced, so all-fired delicious that I may never order anything else there.

Half a dozen hot main dishes, Basmati rice and condiments..
Chicken vindaloo, ready to take to the cashier,
Basmati rice on the bottom, then a large spoonful of spicy vindaloo — large chunks of moist chunks of chicken thigh, some fresh cabbage, crushed padacam and other fresh vegetables and a bit of yogurt. I was able to eat about half, and brought the rest home.

Biju Thomas opened his first fast casual restaurant in RiNo and his second in Berkley.  Guy Fieri shot an episode of “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” that was broadcast a bit over a year ago. There are now outposts in Whole Foods Markets in Boulder and Tamarac. A perfect fit, I’d say.

Price check: Entrees, $9.45-$13.45.

Zomato has not yet found Biju’s, whose Boulder locaition is iInside Whole Fooes at Biju’s Little Curry Shop, 2905 Pearl Street, Boulder.

Uncle Joe’s After Travel Show

Hong Kong-style happy hour after to Travel & Adventure Show.

We traveled the world vicariously at the Denver Travel & Adventure Show on the weekend, visiting a lot of Asian exhibitors. These particularly interested me because we are going to Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan next month. We spent a fair amount of time hanging at the Access China Tours booth, where the first of several pairs of Sherpas were stationed. After we had walked every aisle, collected more literature than necessary, we were hungry. I was also primed for Asian food.

I had just been to a media event when Uncle Joe’s Hong Kong Bistro first opened in December 2015. It was the second Denver eating event of the day, and I couldn’t do it justice. But I loved the spare décor, and I did my best with the food; click here for my first experience. And I’ve posted about our happy hour at Uncle Joe’s, when I was hungry.

Four-hour-long happy hour is a big deal at Uncle Joe’s.
Tasteful and simple place setting.

Continue reading Uncle Joe’s After Travel Show

Two Hawker Stalls Awarded Michelin Stars

Singapore a hotbed of fabulous street food.

singaporeflagNo white tablecloths. No polished wood. No polished waiters either at two modest hawker stalls that were astonishingly and deservedly awarded prestigious stars with the publication of the first Michelin Guide to Singapore that features 29 dining venues In addition to fine dining establishments, the Michelin evaluators had their work cut out for them checking out 100-plus open-air “hawker” centers and some 6,000 stalls selling traditional food.

Chan Hong Meng has been making the honored Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle for 35 years. Even before Michelin bestowed its star on it, people never had a problem finding that stall in the Chinatown Complex, because there is always a line. The 51-year-old Chan serves 150 portions of his signature chicken rice dish each lunchtime for less than $2 a portion. He told reporters that he has no immediate plans to increase the price of his food.

Chef Chan Hong Meng does the cooking and chopping at his Michelin-starred food stall. Two assistants take orders, dish out rice and collect the money. Bing Images.
Chef Chan Hong Meng does the cooking and chopping at his Michelin-starred food stall. Two assistants take orders, dish out rice and collect the money. Bing Images.

Tang Shay Sang’s Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle located, according to the website, “Behind Immigration and Checkpoint Authority Building,” also specializes in noodle dishes but the favored protein is pork. “One and Only Original (No Branch)” proclaims a sign.

Singapore is the first south-east Asian country to be rated by the Michelin Guide. I’m hungry.