Back in March, I christened Lon Symensma one of the sexiest chefs on the culinary planet, a pronouncement by which I still stand, especially since unearthing a Youtube video of the hot shot kitchen magician foraging for food around Vietnam -- research for his new restaurant, ChoLon Modern Asian Bistro, which opens October 1 in the SugarCube building, at 1555 Blake Street.
The video, which you can watch at your leisure, with popcorn, is after the jump, but suffice it to say that Symensma is camera ready for his close-up, which should come as no surprise, considering that he spent several years in New York City, at Spice Market and later, Buddakan, one of last year's 100 highest grossing restaurants in America, coming in at No. 9, according to trade magazine Restaurants & Institutions.
And now ChoLon, his new downtown Denver bistro named for the largest Chinatown in Saigon, Vietnam, is taking shape, too.
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"Many of my dishes are twists on classical Asian cuisine," explains Symensma. "I'm looking forward to sharing my own personal perspective on the dynamic and vibrant flavors of Asia in order to create an experience that's both exciting and familiar."
To that end, Symensma's menu is a mashup of small plates -- kaya toast, a popular Singaporean snack food with coconut jam and a soft egg; pork belly pot stickers with ginger mustard; lettuce wrap shrimp cakes; and papaya salad with tamarind sorbet -- and large plates, including black pepper short ribs; slow-baked halibut with wild mushrooms and tom yum broth, poured tableside; and rice noodles with lamb sausage and gai lan, the leafy Chinese broccoli that bears, thankfully, no resemblance to American broccoli.
When ChoLon opens, it will seat 160, inclusive of the patio, serve lunch, dinner and a small plates menu Monday through Saturday, proffer globalized beer and wine lists and also allow guests to trot in pre-arranged wines for a corkage fee of $15 per bottle.