Photos: Pho Ta, a contemporary Vietnamese pho parlor, opens in Alameda Square

For months, we've been keeping an eye on the construction at Alameda Square, which lays claim to some of the best Asian markets and restaurants in the city, including Super Star Asian, which is undergoing an expansion, and Pacific Ocean, which is also enlarging its space. But it's Pho Ta, a Vietnamese noodle house and pho parlor located at the far south end of the strip mall, that's been the focus of our weekly drive-by jaunts.

Construction on the new space began months ago, but if it wasn't one thing, it was the next -- including the installation of ceiling sprinklers -- that continued to halt progress on the new storefront. But yesterday, Pho Ta finally opened at 2200 West Alameda Avenue.

The space -- forested with rows of fresh bamboo stalks, accented with dark woods, marble and tile and refreshingly modern -- features a bustling open kitchen (an attribute that we rarely see in local Vietnamese restaurants), a long, marble-topped boba bar, large windows and wall-to-wall prints of Asian landscapes and street-food stalls. "We think we have a better, cleaner, prettier and bigger interior and dining area than the other Vietnamese restaurants in and around Denver," says Vicky Shih (she and her husband, Pin Zhen, also own Jett Asian Kitchen & Sushi on East Colfax and East Moon Asian Bistro & Sushi in Broomfield), a partner in the restaurant, along with Lo Hoong, who owns Hoong Gate Asian Grill on North Broadway and Kinh Lam, the owner of Pacific Market and landlord of Alameda Square.

The menu, which hustles several starters, including eight variations of spring rolls, a variety of steamed rice plates and numerous soups and Vietnamese bun, is heaviest on pho, offering twenty dalliances, all of which are accompanied, obviously, by heaping herb plates of jalapenos, mung sprouts, lime wedges and Vietnamese basil. "We definitely want to do the best pho in Denver," says Shih.

And pho -- many of the bowls garnished with oxtail -- is what most of the patrons who were there yesterday afternoon were slurping when I stopped by to take a look at the space and get a taste of what the kitchen, teaming with Vietnamese chefs, was cooking. Herewith, a look at the food, the kitchen and the quarters.

Boba bar, which also serves mixed non-alcoholic drinks and Vietnamese coffee. He, who's in charge of the hot broth (beef, by the way), adopts the pouring stance. She, who's the matriarch of the grill. A trio of phos. A huge vat of pho broth. Fresh herb platter. Shrimp-and-pork spring rolls with a peanut dipping sauce. Vietnamese coffee. A row of bamboo stalks separates the dining room from the exhibition kitchen.

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