RESTAURANT - 2006
Readers' Choice: New Saigon
Kim Ba is one of Denver's oldest Vietnamese restaurants, a shirttail relative of more famous spots on South Federal, and has held down this near-invisible space in a ghost-town strip mall for nearly twenty years. In that time, owner Ba Forde has perfected her menu into a cornucopia of ultra-traditional flavors, reflecting in proper ratio the variety of ethnic influences that have nibbled away at the edges of Vietnamese cuisine for centuries. The green-lip mussels come in a Thai coconut curry sauce. The thit heo kho tieu -- pork cooked in a spicy black-pepper sauce -- is reminiscent of any number of Asian pork barbecue sandwiches. Bo xao dam is beef sauteed in a wine-and-vinegar sauce: a little French, a little Chinese. The vit xao xa ot, duck sauteed with lemongrass, is more French than anything, even in the way it's cut. But then, the French are the only cooks who've managed to mix comfortably with Vietnamese tradition, or to have any real effect on the country's cuisine. A delicious effect, as evidenced by Kim Ba's excellent Vietnamese food.