Asian Cookery–Colorado Springs, CO

Asian Cookery
6760 N. Academy Blvd.
Colorado Springs, CO
(719) 465-2988
Asian Cookery

Asian Cookery


I have to give Asian Cookery credit for staying away from a fusion concept and doing only one thing, which is Malaysian food. I have found Malaysian cuisine to be one of the most delicious in Asia, and I also give them credit for opening this this type of restaurant in a relatively small city compared to the metropolitan areas where ethnic food is usually found. They seem to have found an appreciative customer base that has kept the restaurant going since 1989.

According to the restaurant’s web site Chef Peng Jones has formal culinary training in several Asian cuisines, although Malaysia is her native country. Her husband Ted greets customers, takes their orders, and makes the dishes understandable to customers. Of course one of his most important jobs is to offer a ten percent discount to all “first time customers.” I observed a crew of helpers in the kitchen who appeared to be family members, and who were busy preparing the food along with the head chef.

Ordering is a rather straightforward process. Between photos on the wall, the descriptions given of each dishe, and Ted’s explanation of the ones I wanted to explore further, I felt very comfortable in making a decision about my order.

The food here is Malaysian “street food,” and the menu is very streamlined compared to other Malaysian restaurants I have visited. There were about ten or twelve choices on the menu (you can also choose the type of meat you want for many of them). One thing street food has in common with other types of Malaysian cuisine I have tried, though, is that all of it is flavorful, healthy, and has an interesting combination of ingredients (many of them coming from tropical regions).

Nasi Lemak

Chicken rendang nasi lemak

Chicken rendang nasi lemak

It was explained to me that Nasi Lemak meant “rich rice,” and was considered to be the national dish of Malaysia. It consists of jasmine rice cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaf. The side dishes, including the hard boiled egg, are also traditional. The rice was very fresh, and I very much enjoyed the flavor combination of what was served here.

The Rendang is a Malay curry which in this case was served over chicken (the restaurant also offers beef). The restaurant explained to me that this is a “dry” curry, and I thought it was very flavorful with a good spiciness level but not over the top in this regard. There is a Sambal (hot, spicy sauce) which I added to bring the spice level more to the level which I prefer, and the flavor of the sauce was also good. A small container of Ikan Belis and Peanuts is also included (ikan belis are fried anchovies). In my usual fashion with all things Asian, I ate everything first and did research about what I was eating later.

I also have to mention the iced Malaysian Milk Tea which was similar to Thai tea, but which I think I prefer to most versions of Thai tea I have tried. This is probably because the Malaysian version was not as sweet and had a more balanced flavor, although I am not as good at analyzing things as I am about just knowing what I like.

Other Observations
The restaurant closes at 7:00 p.m., and is closed Sunday and Monday. The restaurant is small, you order at the counter, and payment is made up front. Food is served very quickly and the tables remind me of a fast food restaurant, but the difference with fast food restaurants is in the quality of the food and the fact that the emphasis is on serving healthy food.

The iced Malaysian milk tea was so good that I think this has equal weight with the food in making me say I would really like to return if I can.

One factor that seems to give them a large group of loyal customers is the friendliness of the owner Ted who greets every customer and makes sure they are able to understand the menu and get exactly what they want. This is also a feature that definitely sets it apart from the typical fast food restaurant.

I do not think there is MSG in any of the food here (but I did not specifically ask about it).

One thing that made the food stand out was the coconut rice, and this was a definite taste treat that I was not really expecting.


Asian Cookery Web Site


RATING: 24

Cuisine: Malaysian
Cost: $$
Hours: Open Tue.-Sat. 11 am to 7 pm
Accessible: Yes
Alcohol: N/A
Smoking: No smoking

Most Recent Visit: Aug. 9, 2019
Number of Visits: 1
Best Items: Chicken Rendang Nasi Lemak, Malaysian Milk Tea

 

Asian Food Details

Tea: Milk Tea (cold), Green tea & ginger tea (hot)
MSG: N/A
Buffet: No

 

Special Ratings
star 5 Chicken Rendang Nasi Lemak
star 5 Malaysian Milk Tea

Gabys–Lakewood, CO

Gabys German Eatery
245 S. Harlan St.
Lakewood, CO
(720) 329-8188
Gabys German Eatery

Gabys German Eatery


For years I have searched out German food on my travels, although I have yet to make it to Germany to see how it should really taste. I have it on good authority, though, that it would taste like the food at Gabys (from my friend who lived in Germany and accompanied me to the restaurant). I already figured this out from tasting the food, but it is good to know that my instincts are correct, and the best German food is also the most authentic.

This was indeed probably the best German food I have ever had, although I do want to leave it open for other experiences I have had in the past which might resurface in my memory of some special dishes. One thing about Gabys is that it is not trying to prepare over-the-top special occasion dishes, but I would call it everyday food that becomes very special because of the flavor and the way it is prepared.

I assume it was Gaby who served us, although she was a little busy and I did not get to chat with her very much. I did learn that the restaurant had been open for a couple of years, and that they have daily specials which make the menu a little more interesting if you are a frequent visitor. In the short time it has been open Gabys has become probably the highest rated German restaurant in Denver on Yelp, leading me to think that the on-line reviews of Denver restaurants are some of the more trustworthy ones. I honestly would not have found this place without the help of Yelp.

Restaurant and auto repair shop

Restaurant and auto repair shop

There is an auto repair shop in the same building which initially made me think the two were connected, but this was not the case. The restaurant itself is a little larger than it looks from the outside, but it is a small place with perhaps twelve tables and apparently with Gaby doing all of the cooking. Actually my favorite ethnic restaurants are usually ones where there is only one cook, or at least that you know the food will be the same every time you go. I cannot guarantee that Gabys is this way, but if the Yelp reviews are to be believed then I have every confidence that it is.

Schnitzel

Schnitzel

Schnitzel with potato salad and mushroom gravy on the side

Every German restaurant seems to have Schnitzel, but they are not all equal. I do think, though, that almost every restaurant I have tried does a good job with the schnitzel, and usually it is difficult to say that one is really better than the other. This is the reason I was surprised to find that at Gabys, I really can say that I think think this is a better schnitzel than others I have tried. The only way I can describe it is that in addition to having top quality meat, the flavor and freshness make it stand out so that this really becomes the standard by which to judge the others.

The difference in flavor seems to be mainly because of the breading. Gabys serves the schnitzel the traditional way with a lemon, but there is a serving of mushroom gravy on the side so that if you wish you can make Jagerschnitzel out of it. Normally I would jump at the chance to add the gravy, and I thought it was excellent, but I really enjoyed being able to eat this schnitzel both ways and enjoying both of them.

This was a very interesting Potato Salad because it was made with blue potatoes. It did not seem as if the blue potatoes had a flavor that was very different from regular potatoes, except that it had a flavor (I would describe most white potatoes as being without much flavor, making it almost a requirement to add butter and salt). I believe the potato salad had all the seasoning that any other good version would have, but it just seemed as if the potatoes were exceptionally good (and of course I have to say that the seasoning was very good as well).

Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut

I ordered Sauerkraut on the side because it did not come on the plate, and I wanted to try it. The plate really had a sufficient amount of food, and I would have been satisfied with that alone. The sauerkraut had a very good flavor, but the potato salad was so exceptional that I think Gaby made a good choice by offering this as the side dish on the plate.

Sauerbraten

Sauerbraten

Sauerbraten

For the Sauerbraten I tried a sample but I got a very good idea of its flavor. This is a marinated pot roast with very moist and flavorful meat. I have had sauerbraten before in other restaurants but this one stood out because of the flavor. It is not often that I find food that I consider to be fine dining at prices that are as affordable as at Gabys, and this is definitely a dish that I would consider for it (although there were other dishes on the menu that seemed to be equally upscale).

Another consideration for trying the sauerbraten is that it is not served at many German restaurants in the United States, and therefore is a special treat at Gabys (although the way the schnitzel was prepared made it a special treat for me as well).

This Red Cabbage was a special treat as well because of the fact that I think Gaby is more skillful than most in the wine/vinegar component of it, so that it still has a good flavor but the vinegar flavor is not as strong.

Dessert

Black forest

Half of an order of black forest cake

There are several dessert choices including Black Forest, which had all the elements I expected in this pastry. The flavor was excellent, but in addition the freshness was at a higher level than I typically find at restaurants.

Other Comments
The restaurant is small but there were several empty tables when I went for lunch on a weekday. I imagine there are times when there is a waiting time for a table, but the way the food is prepared means that any meal is likely to involve a wait that is longer than at most restaurants. I believe they take reservations for large parties, though, which may speed things up for some people.

I did not see that they serve beer or alcohol but I did not inquire about this. Perhaps this will come in the future but right now I think the emphasis is on serving food that in itself is not only very good but is one of the more memorable experiences I have had in a restaurant.

My bill was very high because as far as I knew I was only going to make one visit and I wanted to try as many items as possible (sauerkraut, black forest, etc.). I do not regret ordering these, but I did think that if you just order one of the plates on the menu and skip some of the extras, you will have a very satisfying meal at a price that would be comparable with many “ordinary” restaurants. (To me Gabys is a place which I consider “extraordinary” with the accompanying temptation to keep ordering extra items, but I did want to make this one point about the size and the quality of the servings).


Gabys Web Site


RATING: 27

Cuisine: German
Cost: $$$
Hours: Wed.-Sun. 11:30 am to 2:00 pm; 4:30 pm to 7:30 pm
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: N/A

Most Recent Visit: Aug. 9, 2019
Number of Visits: 1
Best Items: Schnitzel, Sauerbraten, Potato Salad, Red Cabbage, Black Forest

Special Ratings
star 5 Schnitzel
star 5 Sauerbraten
star 5 Potato Salad
star 5 Red Cabbage
star 5 Sauerkraut
star 5 Mushroom Gravy
star 5 Black Forest

Super Star–Denver, CO

Super Star Asian Cuisine
2200 W. Alameda Ave.
Denver, CO
(303) 727-9889
Super Star

Super Star


In the Chinese culture the number 8 is considered one of the luckiest numbers, as evidenced by the fact that the parking lots in the Oklahoma City Asian District are lined with cars with an “888” in their license plate (the Tag Agents in Oklahoma are many times able to give customers some choice about the numbers they receive). For me, my first visit to Lucky Star on August 8 (8-8) was particularly auspicious because it was followed by a take-out order by my friends of some 700 miles from Denver to El Paso of roast duck, one of the restaurant’s most well-known dishes, which I was able to share.

My visit to the restaurant itself gave me some of the best Cantonese food I have ever had in a restaurant, added to the fact that Chinese food is definitely one of my favorite cuisines. If China’s greatest Cantonese chef came to the United States and taught other chefs how to cook, I believe the food would come out like it does at Super Star. I have not had repeat visits to test the consistency of the kitchen, and I have not had the restaurant’s signature dim sum, but so far everything has been extremely good.

My first visit was actually a take-out order, although not on purpose. I had spent the day sightseeing in the mountains and arrived at Super Star shortly before 10:00 p.m. Yelp had listed them as being open until 11:00, but as I frequently find on this web site, the information was incorrect and they actually close at 10:00 every day. It was fine, though, because they prepared a take-out order which was probably the best take-out Chinese food I have ever had in my life. The staff was very gracious in cooking the food because it was so close to closing time, but mine did not take a long time to prepare and they had delivery orders ready to go as well.

The building is a small storefront space, and I can see now why people describe what seems to be Denver’s most popular dim sum place as being very small. All of the dim sum restaurants I visited in Seattle were at least five or six times as large as this one, and the ones in Oklahoma City are at least double the size. It seemed to me, though, that Super Star had the staff to prepare the amount of food they actually serve rather than what you typically find in a restaurant this small. Between the people they can fit in to eat and the delivery and take-out orders they serve, I believe that the number of people who eat the food from here every day is quite substantial.

Clay Pot

Special order of a pork and tofu hot pot which is not on the menu

Pork and tofu hot pot

I requested a hot pot because they usually have a very good sauce as well as good quality ingredients. In fact, it seems that only the best Cantonese restaurants even have hot pot on the menu (Super Star serves clay pot dishes but this and hot pot are mostly interchangeable terms). I have had good luck at other restaurants ordering a Pork and Tofu Hot Pot but I did not see it on the menu here. It seems that ordering tofu automatically gets you a good selection of vegetables as well, while the other major style of hot pot is something that is just meat.

It turned out that when I asked for pork and tofu they said this could be prepared very quickly and that I would have exactly what I wanted. Since it was not on the menu I did not have a description of the ingredients that would be in it, but it actually exceeded my expectation of what this dish should be. The pork had a very good flavor without fat and gristle (a step up from the versions which have the fat and skin which is the traditional one I have found in many restaurants). I am not saying that the best pork is the one that is just meat with no fat, but I am saying the way Super Star does it made it turn out much better than I expected.

The tofu was cooked to perfection, and Super Star took what is usually my favorite part of the hot pot and made it what I thought was also the best part in terms of texture, quality, and the way it was cooked.

The sauce, though, was the most surprising part of the dish in being better than expected. It was a thin sauce but very flavorful. It was brown colored and had the right balance of sweetness with other flavors. I would really commend this sauce to readers as an example of authentic Chinese sauces that are not only different but also much better than the ones with which many are familiar. I do not know what the sauce is called, but only that it was in this particular hot pot dish.

The vegetables were very fresh and flavorful. I actually knew from experiences at other Chinese restaurants that they would be this way, but I was not sure how many they would include. It turned out that there was a greater quantity and variety of vegetables than I normally get in hot pot dishes.

Going to Super Star for the first time, the restaurant made sure to explain to me that I did not actually get the hot pot itself as part of a to-go dish. The hot pot is mainly to keep the dish warm for a long time, but since I intended to eat it right away the take-home container was fine. Normally, though, the food would be served in a metal hot pot (here it may actually be made out of clay or ceramic but I did not see which type of pot they use).

Roast Duck

A portion of the roast duck serving

Roast duck

I believe Super Star is as well known for its Roast Duck in the Chinese community as the dim sum, although the duck is saved for special occasions because you have to buy either a whole or a half duck. Some friends of mine had a “special delivery” from one of their family members who brought a duck to El Paso for them to enjoy (and they very graciously allowed me to share in it).

I have had good roast duck in Oklahoma which I shared with my friends under similar circumstances, but the one from Denver was the best I have tried. Super Star’s duck was especially impressive because of the moistness and flavor of the meat. My friends reheated it on a very low heat so that it retained its moisture, and I feel that I got the actual taste that someone would get in the restaurant (the flavor of mine was wonderful, and it may be possible that in the restaurant it would be even better).

Super Star has a special sauce for the duck which was very good, but I am at somewhat of a loss here because I have little with which to compare it and I do not remember some of the sauces I have had in the past. The one here, though, was clearly part of the overall excellent presentation of the dish.

Other Observations
This restaurant serves only traditional Cantonese style food, and apparently is in a large enough city that it does not need to supplement its customer base by including Americanized items (there are some American sounding dishes such as moo goo gai pan, cashew chicken, etc., but I have found that it is possible to prepare these dishes Chinese style). What I have tried has been authentic and prepared correctly, based on my experience in other cities such as Seattle. What I can say, though, is that the food here was better than at any Cantonese restaurant I tried in Seattle.

I do not know if the food here contains MSG. I asked them not to use MSG in my order just to cover the bases. I am sure the order did not have MSG because past experience has shown that Denver’s altitude exaggerates the effect of the chemical, and having it in my food would give me a very noticeable headache.

The jasmine tea made with loose leaves was almost as special of an experience as the food. For some reason, though, they did not have any containers to give me the tea for take out, and I was only able to get it because I had my own thermos mug.


Super Star Asian Cuisine Web Site


RATING: 27

Cuisine: Chinese
Cost: $$
Hours: Open Daily 10 am to 10 pm
Accessible: Yes
Alcohol: N/A
Smoking: No smoking
Special Features: Dim Sum (carts at lunch, order from menu at dinner)

Most Recent Visit: Aug. 8, 2019
Number of Visits: 2
Best Items: Hot Pot, Roast Duck

 

Asian Food Details

Tea: Jasmine (loose leaves)
MSG: N/A
Buffet: No

 

Special Ratings
star 5 Pork & Tofu Hot Pot
star 5 Roast Duck

 

Menu (Aug. 2019):

Bread+Salt–Frisco, CO

Bread+Salt
401 E. Main St.
Frisco, CO
(970) 668-0902
Bread+Salt

Bread+Salt


Frisco is one of the popular ski towns in the Vail area, but it also seems to have quite a substantial year round population that support some very good amenities such as Safeway and Whole Foods grocery stores, as well as a number of restaurants. Possibly the biggest disappointment of coming to Frisco is that you will not be able to try all the restaurants that look good, and even if you were able to do so there are always the neighboring towns of Dillon, Silverthorne, Breckenridge, etc. that would offer their own challenge. By the way, my friend who traveled with me on this trip went to the The Lost Cajun and recommends this restaurant very much as having a true (not touristy) flavor.

Bread+Salt is another restaurant that is not touristy in the sense of being dumbed down. I am speaking primarily of items they serve such as huevos rancheros that have a true south of the border flavor. I would go further and say they are like the food you find in alta cocina restaurants in Mexico, the type of restaurants from which chefs like Rick Bayless get their inspiration.

Every restaurant in Frisco seems to be crowded, particularly at breakfast and right at the lunch hour. I have heard that many times you need a reservation at Bread+Salt but when I went in the late morning it was busy but not full. The breakfast menu is served until they stop serving the regular menu at 2 PM (their web site says they serve burgers and beer from 2 to 8 PM). I think they are known for their breakfasts, and they have quite a range of choices. There is a large outdoor patio, and in nice weather the dining room has the feel of being outdoors because they leave the doors open to let in the outside air (when you are in Frisco I think you will want as much of the outside air as you can get).

Frisco Omelet with Fixings

Frisco omelet with fixings

Frisco omelet with fixings

As much as I liked the huevos rancheros that I sampled, the Frisco Omelet with Fixings was the highlight of the meal for me. It had three eggs, which was more than I thought I could eat, but in full disclosure I ate part of the omelet and part of the huevos rancheros, so I am not sure about how filling each one would be if you ordered it alone. You get “fixings” with it that are not cooked into the omelet, but rather stuffed inside so you can either eat them with the omelet or separately (this made more of an impression on me that I would have thought, having the items cooked into the omelet in all of my other experiences that I can remember). The quality of the food at Bread+Salt is top notch, but I think the recipes they use and the way they cook the food is the other vital ingredient that makes this a memorable experience.

My fixings were black forest ham, Sonoma goat cheese, and spinach. Either I miraculously stabbed in the dark and found a very good combination, or the restaurant has a way of taking anything you order and making it good. Afterward I was glad that they let you choose your own ingredients and do not just offer their own combinations that they think would be good.

Huevos Rancheros

Huevos rancheros

Huevos rancheros

I was very afraid that if I got something like Huevos Rancheros in Frisco it would be the tourist version, but fortunately I got some good information from the desk clerk at the hotel (whose father is a chef at Bread+Salt) that I should try the ones here. As I mentioned in the introduction, these have a very Mexican flavor. Specifically they come with black beans, queso fresco, poblano green chile, and crema mexicana. My thought in tasting it was that it was really good, but another thought was how things have changed so that they can get a regular supply of poblano chile, queso fresco, and crema to allow an item like this to be on a restaurant’s menu. It is also available with red chile (red chipotle) which I believe is really hot, but in my mind the green poblano chile was plenty spicy enough and had an excellent flavor.

Recommendations
The huevos rancheros would make this restaurant worthy of visiting, but I enjoyed the omelet even more (I can get good huevos rancheros in El Paso but not so much with the omelets).

I think if you come here for breakfast, it might be your lunch as well. I say this not only because of the quantity they serve, but the price is a little bit high and you might not want to spend any more money for lunch if you are satisfied with the breakfast you had (this is the way I felt). There is also the fact that the omelet comes with bread, and they have a very good jelly on the table that makes this almost a meal in itself.

The restaurant’s web site says that they have a sister restaurant named Bagalis at 320 Main St. where you can get dinner. They also have a restaurant in Breckenridge named DOMA 1898 at 270 N. Main St. which is open 8AM to 2PM for breakfast & lunch, and until 8PM Wed-Sun.


Bread+Salt Web Site


RATING: 25

Cuisine: Breakfast, Sandwiches
Cost: $$
Hours: Open Daily 7AM-2PM (Open 2 to 8 PM for burgers & beer)
Accessible: Yes
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: Beer, and I am not sure what else

Most Recent Visit: Aug. 8, 2019
Number of Visits: 1
Best Items: Frisco Omelet with Fixings, Huevos Rancheros

Special Ratings
star 5 Frisco Omelet with Fixings
star 5 Huevos Rancheros

Currents–Salida, CO

Currents Steaks & Seafood
122 N. F St.
Salida, Co
(719) 539-9514
Currents

Currents


Salida was quite surprising to me when I visited this time. I had been here a number of years ago and the town did not seem to have grown physically at all in this time. However, in terms of people, life in the city, restaurants, shops, etc., it was a different story. This seemed to be one of the liveliest towns of its size I had ever seen, and I do not think this can be attributed merely to the summer tourist season. The restaurants in town all seem to be high quality, and I would use the term that there seems to be a refined crowd here hoping that this would not be interpreted as saying that it felt stuffy.

Currents is located in the downtown area in an older building where parking is on the street and the demand for the parking spaces there is very high. I am not sure if the restaurant is handicapped accessible because there were steps coming in, but if you need to know it would be best to contact the restaurant. There is a small outdoor patio next to the street, but even indoors it seemed that you could feel the outside air because the doors were kept open (similar to the way many New Orleans restaurants are open to the street during the cooler non-bug season).

Specials board next to the outdoor patio

Specials board next to the outdoor patio

I think the restaurant is known for its steaks, but just about every review I have read has been for the non-steak items on the menu, of which there is a large selection. I came specifically for the chicken pot pie and my friend wanted the beef stroganoff, both of which have had very good on-line reviews.

They do have daily specials, and the menu is available on the restaurant’s web site.

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken pot pie

Chicken pot pie

The Chicken Pot Pie may be shaped like some sort of space rock, but it met all of my expectations when it came to the flavor. The chicken pot pie as it has now evolved is said to have been developed by early Americans, and I think one possible motive may have been to hide the vegetables inside the pie in order to trick the children into eating them. The pie at Currents is so full of vegetables, chicken, and other ingredients, though, that simply cutting it open will reveal all the good things that are packed inside. After most of my recent experiences with chicken pot pie being the “creative” variety, I was very glad to have one that was more traditional. They did add a spice that tasted like basil to me and I would call the flavor “elevated” (a term they like to use on Master Chef), but in its essential form I would say this pot pie is the traditional one that most people expect.

The bad news about this pot pie is that it now seems to have been taken off the menu. At the time of this writing (about two weeks after I visited the restaurant) the web site menu lists beef steak pot pie, but there is no chicken version. I am sure the flavors are still good, but personally I would not crave a beef pot pie the way I would if it were chicken.

Beef Stroganoff

Beef stroganoff

Beef stroganoff

The Beef Stroganoff may have been my second choice for an order, but since I was able to sample it, I ended up being able to see how it stacked up against the pot pie. It is hard to tell from the photo, but this dish was full of mushrooms, and also had more beef than I think the photo indicates. I had a mushroom stroganoff in a now closed restaurant in Walsenburg, Colorado which was one of the best meals of my life, and I was wondering how this one would compare. I will have to say that if I had ordered a mushroom stroganoff here (which the restaurant will do on request) I would have been disappointed. When I ate the pasta, sauce, and mushrooms together on this dish it did not have the flavor that I really wanted, and I think the main reason was the sauce. When I added the beef, though, this dish became “elevated” and it met my expectations. The beef does seem to be quite flavorful and well cooked here.

Recommendations
I would choose whatever looks good at the moment when you come here. The menu has good choices, and the quality seems to be good in everything they prepare.

The restaurant is upscale but casual. Prices are not out of line compared to other restaurants, and I would have more confidence here than in many other restaurants that anything you order will be good.

One factor to consider is that Salida seems to have a number of good restaurants. If I went back and found out that the chicken pot pie is indeed no longer available, and nothing else looked like what I wanted to eat, I think there would be no problem finding another restaurant. I do think, though, that Currents has a number of dishes that will make people happy.


Currents Web Site


RATING: 25

Cuisine: Steaks, American Food
Cost: $$$
Hours: Open Daily except Mon. Lunch
Accessible: N/A
Smoking: No smoking
Alcohol: Yes (I’m not sure about the details)

Most Recent Visit: Aug. 7, 2019
Number of Visits: 1
Best Items: Chicken Pot Pie, Beef Stroganoff,

Special Ratings
star 5 Beef Stroganoff
star 5 Chicken Pot Pie

MEE Hmong Cuisine–Pagosa Springs, CO

MEE Hmong Cuisine
920 San Juan St.
Pagosa Springs, CO
(970) 264-5200
MEE Hmong Cuisine

MEE Hmong Cuisine


The Hmong people (pronounced “mung” according to the restaurant owner’s message on Yelp) are a large ethnic minority in Laos, and also live in Vietnam, Thailand, and China. The Yelp information describes the typical Hmong meal as including “a simple soup, boiled vegetable, rice, and a spicy pepper sauce for dipping.”

I had never tried Hmong cuisine before, but the Lao and Thai food I have experienced have included the fresh flavors of simply cooked food, the spicy flavors of curry and Lao salads, and the pungent flavors of fish sauce that seems to be particularly popular in Laos. I was imagining something like this for Hmong food, but I think MEE has made it somewhat less intimidating and focused on the “fresh” part but leaving out the fish sauce and other flavors with which most Americans are not familiar. The restaurant’s web site says it is “Contemporary Hmong Cuisine” and that it is “Asian Fusion” food.

I want to tell readers that I loved the food here, and I recommend that others try it when they are in Pagosa Springs. I just could not figure out, though, whether this is authentic Hmong food. I had a ginger stir fry dish that had great ginger flavor, so the Asian influence comes through with the food. The Asian practice of eating things that are fresh is also evident here, with the ingredients tasting as if they are natural and organic. The spiciness is something you add yourself by pouring the spicy sauce on top of the food, but it is not the Lao level of spiciness that I have experienced in other restaurants. I did not care, though, because the flavors were so good.

Entrance to MEE Hmong Cuisine

Entrance to MEE Hmong Cuisine

The building is fairly small, and you order at the counter. Table space is limited, but I was there in the summer tourist season and there were a few tables available. Prices are a little high, but I got full from the meal that was served. The main reason my meal was higher than normal was because of the “Premium Iced Teas” that they serve, but I do recommend getting them.

The Menu
Most of the dishes come with Meechi Salad, and most come with rice as well. They serve several types of meat, and for many dishes there is a choice of getting meat or tofu. The restaurant’s web site says their food is “fusion,” and this is clear by menu items such as meatball curry and bangin’ tacos. The bangin’ pork and bangin’ tacos (two items that seem to be a fusion of Asian and Mexican food) are some of the most popular items by many reviewers that I have seen.

Stir Fry Ginger

Stir fry ginger

Stir fry ginger

Most menu items include a main dish and the Meechi Salad, such as the Stir Fry Ginger shown in the photo. On this dish you get a choice of pork or tofu (mine was tofu). It comes with a salad dressing (the dark sauce) and a spicy sauce for the main dish (the light colored sauce). The ginger taste was very strong, but it was balanced by the food on the plate as well as the sauce. In terms of flavor this was one of the best ginger dishes I have ever had (ginger tofu was my “go to” dish at many Thai restaurants in Seattle that I tried).

The sauce was not terribly spicy, and it had no hint of the fish sauce I normally associate with Lao style food. I believe this was an effort to present this food to the mass market rather than because Hmong food does not use fish sauce. However, both the stir fry ginger and the salad were so good, it is hard to argue with what they are doing here. The spicy sauce had really balanced and good flavors, and they did an excellent job with the ginger flavor on the dish.

The Meechi Salad had fresh greens and a very flavorful dressing, so this was a part of the meal that I did not expect to be as good as it was.

Ginger stir fry with Hmong iced tea

Ginger stir fry with Hmong iced tea

This photo shows the Hmong Iced Tea, a drink which is very similar to the Thai tea served in many Thai restaurants. The tea served here is slightly sweetened, infused with coconut milk, and is vegan friendly (according the the restaurant’s menu). Any time they can make it taste as good as Thai tea but be more healthy at the same time, I am all in favor of this. The price was not very much higher than I normally pay for Thai tea in Thai restaurants.

Dessert

Mochi

Mochi

I had read so many good reviews of the Mochi that I had to try some, even though I was already full from the meal (but I got it anyway because I was able to split it). Mochi is ice cream wrapped in rice cake, and it obviously was not meant to be cut in two but we did this anyway just so we could try it (the ice cream starts melting on the plate before you have a chance to take a bite). It comes three to an order (you cannot order them individually). There is a large choice of flavors, but several of them were not available when I went. For the record, the three in the photo are Thai tea, raspberry crunch, and pistachio. I do not think it matters which flavors you order because all seemed equally good.

Other Observations
Many times I think restaurants do not give customers enough credit, and they Americanize the food without giving them a chance to see if they would like the authentic version. In turn, though, I like to extend the same courtesy to chefs to see if they can create something more flavorful, more healthy, etc., than would be found in the traditional form of their homeland’s cuisine.

I do not know how Hmong food is supposed to taste because I have only had it at this one restaurant in Pagosa Springs. The chef has apparently created a “fusion” version, and normally I cringe at fusion food because it does not have a good result. Here, though, I very much like what the restaurant has done.

The ginger stir fry dish had very good Asian flavors, and everything was well blended without it being dumbed down. I am not sure I am ready for an Asian taco (the Bangin’ Taco), but it seems that if any place can pull it off it would be MEE Hmong Cuisine.


MEE Hmong Cuisine Web Site


RATING: 24

Cuisine: Hmong
Cost: $$
Hours: Closed Sun.
Accessible: Yes
Alcohol: No
Smoking: No smoking

Most Recent Visit: Aug. 7, 2019
Number of Visits: 1
Best Items: Stir Fry Ginger, Hmong Iced Tea

 

Asian Food Details

Tea: Hmong Iced Tea, several other “premium teas”
MSG: No
Buffet: No

 

Special Ratings
star 5 Stir Fry Ginger
star 5 Meechi Salad
star 5 Mochi