Word of Mouth

ChoLon Modern Asian Bistro channels a Southeast Asian market

Just 24 hours after I returned from Asia, I was craving the cuisine I'd left behind -- and I was particularly hungry for the food stalls of the markets. So I headed straight for ChoLon Modern Asian Bistro, where Lon Symensma channeled Cholon, the Chinatown market in Saigon, when he and his partner, Jim Deters, designed their Denver restaurant. Each dish on Symensma's menu has a story and a Southeast Asian inspiration. As I ate my way through the menu for this week's review, I reflected on what regional street eats he'd started with -- and what he'd changed to make the dishes appropriate for a fine-dining table. Symensma's biggest challenge was preserving the character of his source without making the exact same recipes, which might work in a cheaper Vietnamese joint on South Federal Boulevard but not at an elegant LoDo restaurant.

Was he successful? Find out tomorrow when the review is posted here, along with a slide show.

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Laura Shunk was Westword's restaurant critic from 2010 to 2012; she's also been food editor at the Village Voice and a dining columnist in Beijing. Her toughest assignment had her drinking ten martinis and eating ten Caesar salads over the course of 48 hours. She still drinks martinis, but remains lukewarm on Caesar salads.
Contact: Laura Shunk