After months of construction and restaurant shuffles, the final piece of chef/restaurateur Lon Symensma's restaurant puzzle snapped into place this week as Cho77 reopened in its new location at 1555 Blake Street, where it joined the mothership, ChoLon, and new French sibling LeRoux.
Cho77 began its life at 42 South Broadway in 2015 serving a mix of traditional Southeast Asian street food renamed to remove the intimidation factor (so khao soi became simply Thai coconut curry soup) and fanciful renderings of classics (bacon cheeseburger shumai and duck leg pho were memorable standouts). But Symensma notes that Cho77 never reached its full potential on South Broadway, since he never felt confident that the neighborhood would support lunch service. But with the move, which allows Cho77 to share a kitchen with LeRoux, lunch hours have been added and the menu has been tweaked to showcase both Cho77's fan favorites as well as the dumpling skills already on display at ChoLon.
Those familiar with Symensma's French onion soup dumplings, a signature dish at ChoLon based on Chinese xiao long bao, will immediately be drawn to Cho77's pho soup dumplings (bigger and soupier than ChoLon's even) and General Cho's xiao long bao, a collision of Chinese tradition and American-Chinese comfort. All told, there are eight plates listed on the new "Dim Sum" menu, ranging from crispy tofu balls to sticky chicken wings.
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For bowls, the Thai coconut curry is returning (how could it not?), and you'll also find drunken rice noodles with ground pork and Swiss chard, spicy shrimp vindaloo and a Vietnamese noodle bowl with grilled chicken and nuoc cham (seasoned fish sauce). Five sandwiches and salads round out the menu, including a tempting beef short rib sandwich that's a handheld version of Malaysian rendang.
The new space is a little more formal and sedate than the raucous, colorful South Broadway original, which was designed to recall the street markets of Vietnam and Thailand. It also doubles as overflow for LeRoux next door; there's even a small cabinet door that hides a cocktail pass-through window between the two establishments' bars.
But with the surrounding businesses and heavy foot traffic on the 16th Street Mall (where you'll find the eatery's front door, despite the Blake Street address), lunch is a no-brainer. Cho77 will be open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, staying open until 10 p.m. on Thursdays and 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Call 720-638-8179 or visit the Cho77 website for more details.
Meanwhile, Symensma has kept his grip on the restaurant space at 42 South Broadway, converting it into BorraCho Tacos, which opened last fall.