24 July 2015

Eating Dim Sum at Star Kitchen in Denver

Cantonese food can be kind of bland, but I love the adventure of eating it as dim sum for an early lunch. There are a few places in Denver that serve it--I've already reviewed Empress here--but I think Star Kitchen has the best variety, and the freshest fish, in Little Saigon (which seems to be as close as we come to a Chinatown here).

Dim sum is served here from 10:30am to 3pm.  If you go close to 3pm, it's still pretty tasty, but not so fresh, and the servers don't get to eat their's until you've gotten to try from all of the carts, so they tend to sort of rush you through and quit early in order to have their own meal.  It's best to go from opening til about 1pm, but if you can handle eating your sim sum as an early lunch before noon, it will be as hot and fresh as it's going to get. Traditionally, dim sum is enjoyed mid-morning over some mahjongg, I'm told, so you're just keeping it authentic.  Ish. 

Star Kitchen is the real deal, and the cavernous room feeds mostly Chinese and other Asian locals. I always take this as a good endorsement. The fish is well-prepared and seasoned, and there's a much bigger variety on the menu than other places in the area. Vegetables are not terribly popular as dim sum, but the Chinese broccoli here is beautifully steamed and served with a generous drizzle of homemade, super-salty oyster sauce; it's actually one of my favorite things here. 

Steamed BBQ pork buns are solid, and the dense, football-like fried pork dumplings are weirdly sweet and satisfyingly salty at the same time.  I also love the pan-fried leek dumplings, shrimp & cilantro dumplings, steamed meatballs, and fried fish balls. The sticky rice in lotus leaf is generously filled with sausage and ground pork and well-seasoned, and the fried sesame balls are a nice, relatively light dessert item.  But my favorite dish, pictured below, is the fried calamari.  As you can see, it was a huge pile of the battered, fried little guys along with quite a lot of fried jalapeno slices.  The batter itself is nicely salty and actually has a good deal of minced onion in it, so it's kind of like eating really good onion rings with calamari meat in the middle. 

There's something luxuriously appropriate about getting dim sum in the summer.  It's cool and dark inside, you're not in a rush to get anywhere, people keeping dragging carts towards you with all kinds of crazy things on little plates.  And you eat a little too much and are amazed by it all.  Why not?  The world is your oyster. 

Star Kitchen 
2917 W Mississippi Ave #5, Denver, CO 80219
(303) 936-0089
Monday - Friday: 10:30 - Midnight
Saturday - Sunday: 10:00 - Midnight

Clockwise from left: fried calamari with jalapenos,
Chinese broccoli in oyster sauce, and fried pork dumpling.