Melange of unathenticity in chain version of Chinese food.
When 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.
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.
Living in a fly-over state, I welcome Chinese authenticity.
I 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.
Expanded, enhanced branch of Boulder restaurant in Ballpark area.
When 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:
Uncle 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.
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.
Uncle Joe’s: A Hong Kong Bistro is in the soaring Spire Building at 891 Fourteenth St., Denver; 720-330-8487.
Bangkok-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.
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.
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.
I generally try not to eat anyplace predictably uninteresting, but today was an exception. As we were driving south of Broadway in Boulder to go for a sunny-day hike, I suddenly got hankering for spicy Chinese food. The power of suggestion was great, and my husband bought into it.
But we had miles to hike before we ate. On the way back, we were ravenous, so we pulled into the Base-Mar shopping center, where May-Wah has been located ever since it came into my consciousness. It is located in a strip mall, so I had few expectations of interesting fare and have always avoided it. My expectations were met. When we arrived, a single woman at one table was finishing her meal, and one fellow was waiting for his take-out order. One table was left to be cleared. It still took quite some time to have our order taken and then for our food to be brought out
Where a Subway once catered to staff from the now-shuttered Boulder Community Hospital’s Broadway building there is now a small and fairly new Chinese restaurant that appeals to those seeking more unusual dishes than the standard Cantonese/Szechuan/Hong Kong offerings. Until I read about it recently (perhaps on another food blog), I hadn’t noticed Flower Pepper in that former Subway space. Its droopy, temporary-looking sign under an awning and behind some trees is challenging to spot in passing.
The offshoot of a tea importing business, its menu is presumably limited by the kitchen that could be created in the wide and shallow space on the side of parking garage. Noodle and rice dishes predominate, though sadly not the soup dumpling I had somehow hoped for in this fast-casual spot. The tea, served in a thick white ceramic tumbler, was so hot that I couldn’t pick it up, even with two napkins, until I was finished with my food.
Claire Walter's Colorado-oriented but not Colorado-exclusive blog about restaurants, food and wine events, recipes and related news. For address of any restaurant, click on the Zomato icon at the end of the post.