Denver is a city I’ve spent quite a bit of time in for business over the past 5 years or so, and I’ve found it to be a much better “foodie” city than I would have expected. I take for granted some of my favorite restaurants there, but I’m going to try to write each of them up as I dine over the next half a dozen trips I have. Happy to answer general questions about the restaurant scene there.
Cho Lon is located on the 16th street mall on the corner of Blake and 16th. Street parking is somewhat challenging but there are plenty of garages nearby.
The restaurant specializes in small plates, very authentic in nature. Chef Lon Symensma traveled extensively in Asia and his knowledge of the local cuisine shows. In 2011, Cho Lon was a James Beard finalist for Best New Restaurant.
On this occasion, I joined a friend/colleague and we ordered about half a dozen small plates. We started with crispy Peking Duck rolls and a vertical crispy rice paper that made for an eye appealing presentation. The spring rolls were crispy on the outside and the filling was piping hot. They were accompanied by a sweet plum sauce.
Next up was an Egg Cloud with Kaya Toast. This was crispy, thick toast with a sweet coating that we dipped in a mayonnaise-like emulsion. The flavors were interesting, but it was probably the weakest of the dishes we tried. Everything thereafter was excellent.
Next up were Wagyu beef skewers. We also had an order of fried rice with it. The Wagyu beef skewers were probably the star of the meal. Like all the hot dishes, it was piping hot when we hit the table but the meat was very tender and juicy. If I had it to do over again, I would double up on the beef skewers.
After that were pork belly buns. The buns were soft and steamy and the pork crispy with a perfect glaze. The pork belly was so good it was almost criminal to wrap it in anything else.
We finished up with a Korean chicken BBQ sandwich. Crispy and a bit spicy, the sandwich was very good.
The Wagyu beef and pork buns stood out as the stars in our meal. And, the fried rice was excellent (I’m a sucker for good fried rice). We finished most of the dishes but if you aren’t looking for a big lunch you can get by with 4 or 5 plates between two people easily. All the dishes are $10-$15 each. Even though they’re “small plates” the portion and food quality makes these a good value, especially considering that Denver restaurants can be a bit pricey. If high quality Asian food is something you’re craving, it’s hard to go wrong with Cho Lon.
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