I knew that once we got to DC it would be harder for us to go out to eat, so I used our last few weeks in Denver to hit all of the restaurants that I had been meaning to go to. I’d had my eye on ChoLon for many months, but since Dan doesn’t like Asian food, I never quite got around to going. Luckily my foodie friend Christina does, so she and I had a goodbye dinner there.
I’ve passed by ChoLon a hundred times, and each time I’ve seen these huge rice and sesame cakes lining the window. It turns out that they’re sort of like an Asian take on the bread basket you get at a lot of restaurants before the meal. Sadly, this wasn’t nearly as good as a bread basket. We ended up sending it back after only a few nibbles.
Fortunately, we fared much better the rest of the night. The restaurant had a Prix Fixe menu which allowed us to order three small bites, two entrees, and a dessert between the two of us, and we both jumped at the chance to get more tastes.
We started out with the French onion soup dumplings with sweet onion and gruyere. The dumplings arrived piping hot, but they were sort of like the Rocky Mountain oysters I tried once – an interesting concept without much flavor . The French onion soup flavor was not as strong as I had expected, either.
When we ordered our entrees, one of Christina’s true hidden talents emerged. She is so good at selecting food from a menu that I think she should become a professional food orderer. (wouldn’t that be a great job? professional food orderer?) Her entrée selection won best dish of the night, hands down.
She ordered pork tenderloin topped with Chinese bacon sauce and paired with a butternut squash puree and greens. The bacon sauce was sweet and salty and brought out the sweetness of the tender pork, and the bacon itself was crispy and delicious, providing a nice textural contrast. The greens were perfectly cooked and tender too, but the butternut squash puree was the true highlight of the dish.
While we were eating it, we kept trying to figure out what made it so good, but we could never quite put our finger on it. After almost licking the plate, I’m still not sure what it was. I think I will have to start making butternut squash purees until I find one that matches this. It was amazing.
Unfortunately, after we took a few bites of this dish we decided that the flavors needed to meld a little more. We left most of it on the plate, and Christina took it home with her. No doubt she turned the leftovers into something delicious.
For dessert, we decided to have the five spiced doughnuts, Vietnamese coffee ice cream and condensed milk. The donuts were still warm and served as a great sponge for the quickly-melting ice cream, which had just the right amount of bitterness and coffee flavor (along with some interesting crunchy pieces of something). The condensed milk finished everything off on a delicious sweet caramel note.
I should also note that since we made our reservation through Savored, which gives you a discount on your check, we ended up saving money (after the $10 reservation fee was taken into account) which is a good deal. You have to spend money to save money, I always say! (Dan doesn’t always agree with that).