Aurora's Mango House bills itself as "a shared space for resettled refugees," and includes medical and dental offices as well as youth organizations and community programs. And with a recent move from its original home at 1532 Galena Street to spacious new digs at 10180 East Colfax Avenue, Mango House can now boast "food hall" among its offerings.
Mango House, founded by Dr. PJ Parmar, moved into its new location earlier this year, taking over a vast indoor mini-mall that had previously been home to Afrikmall and the Soul Center. While both of those concepts included food counters, the new round of tenants appear well organized and are setting up cheerful, modern dining spaces to go with the international array of food.
Last week, Urban Burma became the first Burmese restaurant to open in the metro area, and the fourth food counter inside the Mango House space. Owner Siri Tan says he has lived in Aurora for the past five years and worked for Project Worthmore (which helps refugees build community and become self-sufficient) before launching his own eatery.
Urban Burma serves three noodle bowls and three curries (beef, chicken and vegetable), plus samosas, fried rice, coffee, tea and fruit shakes. While some of the flavors will be familiar to fans of Thai cuisine, Tan's Burmese specialties come with ingredients you won't find anywhere else. The nan gyi dok bowl, for example, is a nest of thick rice noodles topped with chicken curry, a hard-boiled egg, crunchy rice puffs, fried garlic and toasted chickpea flour. A side of broth comes with the noodles; Tan says its best to mix everything together and taste it before pouring in the broth to your liking. A condiment cart provides fish sauce and searing-hot chili oil for extra flavor.
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The ono kao sweh is similar to northern Thai khao soi, with chewy egg noodles in a chicken coconut curry broth, and a crispy lentil fritter adds crunch alongside a hard-boiled egg, fresh herbs and a lime wedge. Another uncommon dish is the fermented tea-leaf salad, a staple in its home country but hard to find here in Colorado.
Along with Urban Burma, Mango House's food offerings include Ayny's Kitchen (a Somali bakery cafe), Jasmine Syrian Food and Taste of Sudan. Golden Sky Sushi and Nepali Mountain Kitchen are also scheduled to open this spring.
The vendors are all recent immigrants new to the food-service business in Colorado, but a little patience will be rewarded with complex Burmese curries; wonderful kanafeh pastries from Jasmine made with soft cheese, shredded phylo and honey; and golden fritters called bajiyo and nafaqo (each containing a whole hard-boiled egg) from Ayny's.
Hours for the individual counters vary. Jasmine and Urban Burma are open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day but Sunday; Taste of Sudan is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays; and Ayny's is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday.