I know I typically save the restaurant recommendations for Friday, but it’s a short week with the holiday, so I’m here early with my plate of the week.
Why we’re talking noodles: It’s getting darker earlier, cold weather will soon be creeping in, and this is the time of year that I love to warm up with a piping hot bowl of noodles or a steamy basket of soup dumplings. So last week, when esteemed Denver Chef Lon Symensma debuted his brand new dumpling and noodle bar, YumCha, I booked a table for opening night. The new restaurant shares the same block as its seasoned siblings — ChoLon and LeRoux — on 16th Street Mall and Blake Street, replacing Symensma’s Cho77 and swapping his fast-casual approach to noodle bowls and dumplings for a more elevated take on pan-Asian street food.
My thoughts: Bring an adventurous appetite and leave your preconceptions at the door. Most notable about the menu are the unique and sometimes unfamiliar flavors that stray faaar away from the Asian-American cuisine that most of us know, and lean heavily toward the authentic food profiles of Asian street food. With the dishes at YumCha, Chef Lon flexes his signature technique of pushing the boundaries of typical flavor combos and cuisine stigmas and breaking away from the expected.
Here’s what I liked:
Curried duck spring rolls with cilantro yogurt ($13): Delicious. When you bite into the crispy outer shell of this spring roll, you’re rewarded with a tender, savory filling of shredded, curried duck.
Firecracker chicken bao buns with pickled red onion and cucumbers ($10):
The server thoughtfully warned us that the firecracker sauce comes with a little kick. It definitely inspired some under-eye sweat, but was jam-packed with flavor (even for a wimp like me) and cooled by the cucumbers.
Wagyu beef & Chinese broccoli chow fun with pickled chilis ($15): It’s your traditional beef and broccoli over fat rice noodles, but really damn good. Bonus: It would also be delicious beef-free, for the vegetarians out there!
Matcha custard tart ($8): Ok, this kinda looked like something from an alien sci-fi movie to me, but it’s exactly what the name on the menu describes: matcha custard in a flaky, buttery little pastry boat and topped with candied lemon strips. I LOVED it. And if you’re a fan of both matcha and custard, you probably will too!
Have a restaurant I should try? Write me! —Peyton