Sunday, November 20, 2011


Well, that didn't take long: after opening only a year ago, ChoLon impressively debuted on 5280 Magazine's Top 25 Restaurants List at number 5 this year. Operated by chef Lon Symensma, the Asian fusion restaurant has received praise from both critics and just about everyone we've known who's eaten there.

Oh, and ChoLon is a participating restaurant on, meaning my husband and our friends we dined with enjoyed 30% off our tab.

Our reservations were at 6:30 last Thursday evening, during an eerily quiet downtown evening due to a Broncos game on the other side of I-25. ChoLon lies at 15th and Blake Street, between H Burger and the Rio Grande. Like many downtown restaurants, diners can look out the restaurant through floor-to-ceiling windows, although the surrounding street view isn't particularly interesting. I was surprised that the restaurant was only about two-thirds full that night, but maybe everyone was too caught up in Tebowmania to be eating out that evening.

ChoLon feels modern and trendy, with high ceilings, simple decorations, and dark lighting.

We started with drinks and this very impressive complimentary starter, a rice "cake" with black sesame seeds and salsa.

Rice crisp with black sesame seeds

The rice crisp was beautiful but really had no flavor.

Most of the small bites consisted of upgraded twists on traditional Asian street food and dim sum.  We ordered the following:

Pork Belly Pot Stickers with Ginger Mustard ($8)
Pork Belly Pot Stickers

Curried Duck Spring Rolls with Cilantro Yogurt ($9)
Curried Duck Spring Rolls

Rib Eye Satay with Hong Kong Steak Sauce  ($11)
Rib Eye Satay

Soup Dumplings ($8)
Soup Dumplings

While the meat-heavy dumplings, spring rolls, and satay were all excellent, the standout among the small bites was definitely the soup dumplings.

Inside each dumpling was actually a small helping of French Onion soup. The dumplings had to be handled delicately; I learned that the hard way when I ignored our waitress's request to use our hands and squashed mine with chopsticks. They were incredibly unique and had a delicious pop of savory, salty soup in each bite. 

We split the Pork Tenderloin large plate ($25), which came with butternut squash puree, Chinese bacon sauce, and Chinese broccoli.

Pork Tenderloin
The pork was absolutely perfect; it was incredibly tender and balanced with the flavor of the sweet-and-savory Chinese bacon sauce. The butternut squash puree was sweet, creamy, and rich. Overall an outstanding  dish.

We also ordered, from their "Wok" selections, the Stir Fried Brussel Sprouts ($9).
Stir Fried Brussel Sprouts

Unfortunately our picture turned out blurry and it certainly doesn't do justice to how good the brussel sprouts were. They were chopped into small pieces, cooked to the point of slightly caramelized, and served in a rich sauce with pork and mint.

And finally, for dessert we enjoyed the "S'mores" Tart ($8).
"S'mores" Tart

The tart comprised of a flat, chocolaty cylinder with a runny vanilla-marshmallow goo inside.  It was topped with toasted bananas, and sat alongside cinnamon-spiced chocolate ice cream on a bed of crushed graham cracker. I'm not sure that there was much Asian influence in this dessert, but it was perfect anyway. Mr. Oyster and I agreed this has been our favorite dessert in Denver so far.

I'm sure you can tell by the pictures, but presentation is taken very seriously at ChoLon. All the dishes were served beautifully, particularly the pork tenderloin and dessert.

Service at ChoLon was outstanding, with excellent timing between the various courses.

ChoLon was the best dinner we've had in Denver yet. The food, service, and presentation is on par with any of Denver's fine dining establishments, but with lower prices and a more casual atmosphere. Add on a 30% discount, and it feels like a tremendous bargain. It was nearly perfect, and easily earned our first 10-star review.

Casual Dining

(10 of 10)

Pros: Food nearly perfect. Outstanding presentation. Very good service.
Cons: A little bit loud and dark inside (I'm being picky)


ChoLon Bistro on Urbanspoon


  1. HOLY SH*T!!!!! 10 STARS??? AND 30% OFF. i'm going there NOW! 7am.