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MOUTHING OFF

Growing pains: After over two decades as a mainstay of Denver's dining scene, Little Shanghai, at 460 South Broadway, recently revamped its menu to match its expanded, updated interior. "We hired new cooks and wanted to make the menu more healthy," says Ching Lei, the co-owner with her husband, Kim. But dropping MSG and excess sugar from their sauces has met with mixed results. "We have had complaints and people sending food back because it does not taste the same," Ching admits. "But then, we have had new customers who came in just for the new menu."

Part of that menu is a one-page roster of wild game dishes that sure caught my eye. Featuring items such as rattlesnake spring rolls and wild boar ribs with mustard greens, this list was created by the new cooks, one of whom hails from Houston and the other two from San Francisco. "They came from cities that are ahead of Denver as far as Chinese foods go," Ching says. "We are hoping that their style will catch on. But we put some of the old things back on the menu for our regulars, so now we have some new and some old." I sampled the double-cooked pork ($7.95) and found it lacking some of its former punch (and those deadly red chiles), although the lo mein ($5.95) was as good as it always has been; after a slight detour, Shanghai's much-loved hot-and-sour soup ($1.75/cup) is coming closer to the old recipe.

Elsewhere on the Asian restaurant scene, a recent stop by Pho Hoa at 333 South Federal Boulevard found new owners, who admitted they hadn't yet renamed the place but were serving anyway. The pho was even better than under the previous regime. On a drive by several days later, we sighted a new sign bearing the name My Canh.

Bean down so long: The recent report about Mexican food's deadly qualities had my colleagues so depressed that naturally we needed a beer to drown our artery-clogged sorrows. And what better place to wallow than the Mickey Manor at 2544 Federal Boulevard? After all, the bar advertises itself with the modest notation: "Sorry we're open. But our Mexican lunches aren't bad." Once inside, though, we spotted an even more inspirational sign: "Notice: Call ahead if you are in a rush and prevent stress! Stress is not healthy. Stay healthy. Call in advance, please."

Given the Manor's concern for our well-being, we decided to skip the Mexican food and instead go for $1.35 Rockybilt burgers, heavenly handfuls based on the classic Thirties recipe. And, of course, a bowl of red chili--at the suggestion of our waitress.

Brew news: It was a beer kind of week, as I tasted the summer product line from Coors Brewing Company. Part of a four-season series, the new Weizenbier is the first Coors offering I've enjoyed. With an import taste (it's a Belgian-style wheat beer) and a cool name (pronounced "vite-zen-bier") that makes you sound like a German commandant when you order, this brew fortunately is not available in those silly Sun Cans--just bottles and on tap at your favorite watering hole.

 
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