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Purple Ginger II set to open in former Zi Fusion location

Zi Fusion seemed to suffer from an identity crisis from the start. It was originally going to open last fall as Zi Cuisine -- but that sounded dangerously close to Z Cuisine, Patrick Dupay's popular French restaurant in Highland. So Zi Cuisine quickly changed its name to Zi Fusion, which Rhett Songer, then the chef, said better reflected the restaurant's concept.

Then in April, the restaurant closed after water pipes burst and damaged much of the wood floor in the bar area. At the time, Songer said Zi Fusion would shut down for two weeks for a remodel.

A major one, it turns out: Not only has the space been changed, but so has the personnel and the name. When the location at 7340 South Clinton Street in Englewood reopens on June 30, it will be Purple Ginger II.

But even before the pipes burst, owner Ricky Choi, who also owns the original Purple Ginger in Lakewood with his wife, Anna, wasn't pleased with the way the restaurant was being run. "We were not on the same page," he says of the former management team. "That's why I let them go."

So when the restaurant closed for repairs, Choi took the opportunity to make more grand-scale changes. He brought in Vijay Mehra, who used to be the GM at Imperial Chinese Restaurant and most recently owned his own restaurant in Longmont, to be the GM. Choi will be more involved in the kitchen and hired George Yu, who has worked at many restaurants in Denver and Kansas City, to be the head chef.

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The menu will be very similar to that of Purple Ginger in Lakewood, which focuses on healthy, modern Asian cuisine. "The concept here is the old Chinese cuisine was very greasy food, very heavy food, and was too much heavy sauces," says Mehra. "We're making food in a Chinese way, but in a much lighter fashion. What we want people to come and see a modern Asian cuisine. We have Thai, we have some curries, we have Chinese cuisine, but with a different twist. It's not the same old mom-and-pop Chinese restaurant."

All the sauces are made by Ricky Choi, and the menu features a wide array of chicken, fish, beef, pork, rice and noodle dishes along with soups, salads and sushi, with an emphasis on fresh and healthy ingredients

Purple Ginger II will try to build on the solid foundation that the Chois have created at their Lakewood location. "A lot of people were saying, 'Why don't you come South?''' says Mehra. "So when the opportunity came along, they bought this place and now they're going to offer the same style of food and the same healthy food done in an Asian fashion."

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