On a damp and cold Friday afternoon, delicious smells of pho and Banh Mi drift out of the cozy kitchen of Broken Rice, Denver’s newest and maybe best fast-casual Asian restaurant. The new restaurant, whose owneris a DU graduate, is located on Colorado Boulevard and Arkansas Avenue. It brings made-from-scratch Asian street food to the Mile High City.
Broken Rice is new, very new, and because of this the interior is a sparkling clean, modernist space that breathes efficacy and modern tastes. Everything is seemingly designed for the pleasure of the modern eater. The seats and tables are comfortable and ergonomic, and beneath each seat is a plug and USB input so yes, you can charge your phone while you chow down.
The full-service bar is a beautiful crescent shape with LEDs shining under the lip of the bar. Behind the bar sits a large window that allows a glimpse into the small, yet perfectly balanced and workable kitchen. The dining area is bordered by a wall of windows that can be completely opened up in the summer time to allow an al-fresco-esque experience. The bright and airy space is brimming with technology besides just the USB ports, as each table is also hooked up to free WiFi and is connected to the restaurant with GPS, meaning servers know exactly where a meal is bound.
Broken Rice focuses on making delicious Asian street food from scratch using local ingredients. Dishes include pho-broth based soups (the broth is made daily), rice bowls, Vietnamese noodles, Banh Mi sandwiches, salads and exclusive craft cocktails. The restaurant makes all its own sauces and hand makes their own potstickers as well.
This reviewer had a sampling of dishes across multiple courses. For starters, the chicken potstickers ($8) and the tuna poké ($8); for entrees, the pho curry ($8), the Pad Thai ($9) and the Kung Pao rice bowl ($9). For drinks, a virgin Yuzu lemonade (one of the exclusive cocktails created for the restaurant by mixologist Kim Haasarud, $7) and a tropical hot green tea ($3).
The potstickers and tuna poké were both delicious, with the tuna poké making the largest impression with its delicious combination of tuna, citrus ponzu, avocado, sweet pickled cucumber and housemade wonton chips. All three entree dishes were adventures in a world of deliciousness. The Pad Thai was very good, if not extraordinary. The pho was amazing on the cold day and a perfectly balanced pot of goodness compared to some other pho options which overload the bowl with veggies and meats. The yellow coconut curry gave it an extra but not overwhelming kick. The standout entree, however, was the Kung Pao chicken. As a massive fan of Kung Pao, this reviewer was extra excited for this dish. The dish shined through with its combination of textures in the form of tender chicken, the eponymous broken rice, bok choy, onion, bell pepper and peanuts. The real star of the dish was the Kung Pao sauce, which many establishments overdo with spice- but not Broken Rice, who provided a delicately spicy, but still flavorful and not at all overwhelming sauce. The Yuzu (an asian citrus fruit kind of like a grapefruit) lemonade was delicious as a virgin cocktail and would probably remain delicious with the addition of its usual accompaniment of Tito’s Vodka.
Maybe the most appetizing appeal of Broken Rice is its weekday happy hour. For only $5, one gets a choice of any of the restaurant’s exclusive cocktails, such as the Pomegranate Crush (fresh lemonade, homemade pomegranate grenadine, chia and pomegranate seeds and sake), wine or draft beer and any pho dish or selected dishes, including chicken satay and potstickers.
Broken Rice’s dedication to local and organic ingredients and leaving a small environmental footprint is admirable and a central tenant of the restaurant. The organic chicken in the resturant is provided by Boulder Natural Chicken, and the wine and beer are all local varieties (the restaurant’s beer menu provides the beer aggregate rating and even the distance of the brewery from the restaurant). To be environmentally friendly, the restaurant doesn’t use bottles—the wine is even on tap—and uses sustainable and recyclable packaging.
Broken Rice is a fantastic addition to Denver’s dining scene, and the beautiful space provides a great dining experience, only matched in greatness by the delicious food and drink and the impeccably good service provided by the staff and General Manager, Sam.
Suggestions: Kung Pao chicken rice bowl, tuna poké, pho curry, any of the exclusive cocktails
Sun – Thu: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Fri – Sat: 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Mon – Fri 3-6 p.m.