Noodles and sushi and sake, oh my! Asian flavors flourish around town. Of course, there are much-loved venues that gourmands have adored for years. Kenichi (533 E. Hopkins Ave., 970.920.2212, kenichiaspen.com), for one, where master sushi chef Kiyomi Sano’s nightly top selection nigiri combo draws folks in—the Tatami Room is typically booked. And then there’s Matsuhisa (303 E. Main St., 970.544.6628, matsuhisaaspen.com), revered for yellowtail sashimi with jalapeno, black miso cod and, well, Nobu himself.
That said, newer spots are luring people for a different take on the theme. Here are some of our recent favorites. “Serving happiness” to their customers is something owners Vinnie Bagford and his wife, Xuan Ha, take seriously at their popular Bamboo Bear (730 E. Cooper Ave., 970.710.2094, bamboobearrestaurant.com), and most dishes are inspired by family recipes. Grab a counter stool and spoon (or slurp) Grandpa Ha’s Pho, made with homemade bone broth and chock-full of rice noodles. Signature double-fried chicken with spicy chile Bear Breath sauce is a must, as is Vinnie’s special Colorado beef jerky.
At Jing (413 E. Main St., 970.920.9988, jingaspen.com), Shanghai-trained chef Frank Lu’s approach—applying traditional French techniques to fresh local and Asian ingredients—results in what’s best described as global fusion cuisine. Porky-gingery Shanghai soup dumplings and curried Singapore rice noodles satisfy a certain category of cravings, as does salt and pepper calamari, Hong Kong baby backs and Thai basil free-range chicken. A full roster of new-style sashimi and sushi rolls rocks.
Little Ollies (308 S. Hunter St., 970.544.9888, bokchoyaspen.com) ascribes to the feng shui philosophy, which encourages natural flow of energy. In decor, that translates to white high-tops and bamboo chairs in a serene white-walled setting. By taste, it’s pure satisfaction via dishes ordered “off the wall” and delivered tableside or to-go. Give in to whatever dim sum (shumai pork, steamed shrimp har gow) strikes your fancy, balanced by creative creations like Japanese crack chicken.
At Bangkok Happy Bowl (300 Puppy Smith St., 970.925.2527, aspenthai.net), fans flock to taste Bangkok native chef Paula Rungsawang’s authentic dishes, many of which are based on family recipes, which may be ordered at varying levels of heat. Settle at the small bar or cozy collection of tables for Bangkok wings with homemade chile sauce, panang vegetable curry, Mango Tango salad or kee mao. Guests will also find vegan options and carry-out.
Photography by: By Charles Deluvio