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Sticks -- not stones -- are the draw at the new Skew

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Skew, which opened Monday night at 2070 South University Boulevard, is all about inexpensive but high-quality ingredients slipped on sticks in a hip environment that's both fast-casual and full-service, says Ton Phairatphibon, who operates the University Park restaurant with his brothers. "We want to offer a different kind of value menu with a lot of global variety and top-notch ingredients, and the concept is a hybrid between the pluses of a fast-casual place and a full-service restaurant, explains Phairatphibon, who currently has seventeen (!) cooks working in the kitchen to execute a 41-dish menu sidekicked with sixteen sauces.

The long board of grilled and fried skewers -- tofu, steak, pork, white- and dark-meat chicken and vegetables -- draws from the influences of Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Singapore and China. "I deconstruct dishes that I really like and reconstruct them onto a skewer," says Phairatphibon. "We have some very traditional skewers interspersed with modern ones, and the result is big flavors, small bites."

In addition to skewers, Phairatphibon is also doling out desserts, bento boxes that will change every two days, an Asian-influenced cocktail syllabus built around sake and soju, and his own rice blend that's a combination of red, white and brown grains. "The red rice gives it an extra boost of protein, and it's healthy without sacrificing taste," he notes. His sticky rice, infused with water scented with the extract of pandan leaves, gives it a grassy, nutty taste. "The pandan water takes away the bitterness and gives the rice a really nice aroma," says Phairatphibon.

The contemporary space, outfitted with light woods, white tables, black, pistachio- and lemon-striped booths, hardwood floors, a separate bar area and an ordering counter that sits in front of a semi-open kitchen, doesn't have servers, but unlike at Chipotle, or other fast-casual joints where you pick up your food, the dishes at Skew are delivered to your table. In addition, customers will have access to a touch-screen, self-order kiosk, which allows them to place -- and pay for -- their own order instead of trudging back to the counter when they decide that they want another beef skewer. "It's a convenience feature for our customers, and it's some of the newest and coolest technology out there," claims Phairatphibon.

That technology won't be in place for another few weeks, but the counter is definitely up and running, sticking customers with skewers and feeding them bento boxes from 11 a.m. to midnight, Monday through Saturday, and from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., on Sunday. For more info, call 720-328-0018.

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