A new fast-casual restaurant called Broken Rice opens today at 1390 South Colorado Boulevard, offering a variety of Vietnamese, Thai and Chinese dishes in an upscale, fast-casual setting. While Broken Rice is run by a California-based company, this is the first location in the country.
Ric Gordon, president of Broken Rice, explains that he and his partners chose Denver because "we are a more business-friendly state." Gordon, a graduate of the University of Denver, also notes that Colorado is the birthplace of the fast-casual restaurant movement and that rents, construction costs and labor are much more affordable here than in California.
The menu covers a selection of rice and noodle bowls, pho with four housemade broth options (curry, chicken, beef and vegetable), salads and sandwiches. Gordon explains that broken rice was once considered the leftovers of the rice-milling process, but it became favored by street vendors because it cooks quickly and give an almost creamy textrure, making it a staple in Vietnam and other Asian countries.
A big bar pours Colorado craft beers and a selection of house cocktails created by mixologist and cocktail-book author Kim Haasarud; Asian flavors like yuzu, five-spice, ginger and matcha green tea give the drinks a fresh, exotic twist.
Gordon describes the concept as "polished fast casual," and a quick look around the space reveals that polish. Broken Rice has some serious financial backing, with Bobby Baldwin (CEO of MGM Mirage Resorts), Guy Laliberté (founder of Cirque du Soleil), and Chamath Palithitaya (part-owner of the Golden State Warriors) on the roster of primary investors. While the restaurant is small, attention has been paid to the details, including a focus on technology. That means USB ports and charging stations at nearly every seat in the house, free wi-fi and a high-tech POS system that keeps track of your location in the restaurant for food and drink delivery.
Broken Rice opens today at 11 a.m. and will continue lunch and dinner service Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., staying open until 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. A weekday happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m. offers $5 cocktails, wines, beers and food items, including an impressively sized bowl of pho. Prices on the regular menu top out at $12, and there's a pick-two option that comes with a cup of pho, a side and a half-sandwich for $8.95.
Keep reading for more photos of Broken Rice.