A couple that hopes to one day rival Panda Express with 21st-century fast-casual Chinese food is starting their journey this week at Denver’s Avanti food hall.
Kenneth Wan and Doris Yuen just opened Meta Asian Kitchen in LoHi after moving from Jersey City this summer.
From the new food stall, they’re serving chicken wings and dumplings, a trio of bao buns, a few rice dishes and one dessert to end them all: Hong Kong street cakes, a.k.a. bubble waffles.
If you aren’t keeping up with Hong Kong’s latest street food crazes, imagine a big, battered, bubble-wrap-shaped waffle sprinkled in powdered sugar and topped with ice cream and berries.
There’s more modern Chinese food, too, where that came from.
Wan and Yuen hope to introduce specials at Avanti like barbecued char siu pork, chicken gizzard skewers and scallion crepes known as jian bing.
In colder weather, they’ll have a soup-and-sandwich combo of congee — savory rice porridge — served with a bao bun.
“It’s still Chinese but not the same stuff everyone’s been eating for the last decade,” Wan said.
He’s coming from formative stints at New York restaurants such as the dim sum and dumpling house RedFarm, David Chang’s Momofuku Ssäm Bar and The Lucky Bee, a now-closed Thai street food spot.
Both he and Yuen grew up in the restaurant industry — she in Hong Kong where her dad was a chef, and he outside Boston where his parents owned a takeout spot.
Now they exchange WhatsApp messages with their families back East talking XO sauce recipes and childhood dishes.
So a staple on Meta’s menu is Mama Wan’s sticky rice with pork belly braised for six to eight hours, pickled vegetables and a sauce that’s made from Coca-Cola, cinnamon and star anise.
Meta Asian Kitchen, 3200 Pecos St., 720-269-4778, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday-Wednesday and until 10 p.m. Thursday- Saturday, avantifandb.com/restaurants/meta
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