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August 2021

Volume 16 Issue 8

FOOD EDITION Asian cookbooks for the home chef

COLORADO CHEFS take center stage



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PRESIDENT’S NOTE Dear Asian Avenue readers, As we were putting together our May edition highlighting 100 Asians to Know in Colorado, we realized a special feature on Asian American chefs was needed. With so many impressive chefs from various backgrounds, we bring you our August edition sharing the stories of Colorado chefs. This list includes chefs who have worked for Michelin star restaurants, some that grew up in their family’s restaurants, and others that graduated from culinary schools and trainings. We recognize this is not a comprehensive list and want to thank our Asian Avenue community for providing recommendations to help compile this talented and distinguished group. This month, we also recognize local Asian and South Asian Americans running for office in upcoming elections. As we know, representation in government is increasingly important in order for our community’s voice to be heard. Learn more about their campaigns and how to get involved. Colorado’s redistricting process is underway and the independent redistricting commission continues to collect public comments at hearings across the state throughout the month of August. If you are interested in learning more about this process and how you can provide a public comment, join an upcoming workshop or visit congressional-redistricting. Lastly, Kiana Marsan explores the origins of the Olympics and the criticisms of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which had already been delayed one year. While we celebrate the talent, athleticism, and commitment of Olympic athletes, it is important to note that the Olympic games were built on oppressive practices. Congratulations to this year’s Olympic medalists, including American gymnast Suni Lee of Hmong descent, 13-year-old Japanese skateboarder Momiji Nishiya, and weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz who won the first gold medal for the Philippines. Annie Guo VanDan, President | Asian Avenue magazine | | @asianavemag


August 2021 | President’s Note




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AUG 2021 7

EVENTS: Upcoming events to gather in person and virtually


COVER STORY: Colorado chefs from diverse Asian backgrounds and culinary experiences elevate Denver’s food scene




COVER STORY: 7 Asian cookbooks for the home chef COVER STORY: Local southeast Asian restaurants to pay attention to!



FEATURE: How the Olympics began and a nod to Asian and Asian American athletes competing in Tokyo



INSIDE STORY: Smilematic opens its doors to Aurora dental patients

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SPOTLIGHT: Local musician Logan Chan releases first EP album

ON SCENE: South Asian community organizer Neal Walia announces run for Colorado’s 1st congressional district (Denver) ON SCENE: Asian Americans run for office with local city councils

P.O. Box 221748 Denver, CO 80222 Tel: 303.937.6888 E-mail:

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August 2021 | Table of Contents

2 YEAR 24 Issues for $40 Payment Enclosed Bill Me

President ANNIE GUO VANDAN Editorial Director MARY JENEVERRE SCHULTZ Graphic Designer/Videographer LIJIN ZHAO Web Designer JASON ZHANG Marketing Manager JOIE HA Editor DAMIAN SIU Staff Writer PATRICIA KAOWTHUMRONG Intern KIANA MARSAN

on the cover Leah Sara Eveleigh, Moore and Jeff Maya Osaka, Craig andenjoy Davethe Hadley viewsare of among Mirror theLake 14 Asian in theAmerican Indian Peaks chefsWilderness. recognized as culinary Photo leaders Credit: in Denver’s Serevi Naqica food scene. Asian Avenue magazine (ISSN 1932-1449) reserves all copyrights to this issue. No parts of this edition can be reproduced in any manner without written permission. The views expressed in articles are the authors’ and not necessarily those of Asian Avenue magazine.

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Publisher & Founder CHRISTINA YUTAI GUO

Looking to promote your business? Asian Avenue magazine offers businesses a costeffective way to reach consumers in the Denver/Boulder metro areas and beyond. For more information, call 303.937.6888 or e-mail us at for our media kit and ad rates. Send story ideas to hello@ Asian Avenue magazine is in association with the Colorado Asian Culture and Education Network. Name Address City/State/Zip Cell E-mail Comments

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upcoming events Being Asian American: A Dialogue About What It Means To Be “Enough”

Wednesday, August 11 | 6:30pm to 8pm Virtual Discussion | Register on EventBrite

Send community events to

Budisidharta (Asian Pacific Development Center) and Clarence Low (Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers).

Civic Engagement and Advocacy Training Wednesday, August 18 | 5pm to 7pm Free Virtual Training RSVP to

Join us for a vibrant discussion on what it means to be Asian in America and American in our Asian community. Asian Americans often walk a tightrope between cultures. Is this hard? Easy? Stressful? Rewarding? What makes you feel that you are “enough?” Joie Ha, Founder of CORE (Community Organizing for Radical Empathy) will facilitate the discussion featuring Gina Atkins (CORE), Harry

Organized by the Colorado Asian Culture and Education Network, join this training to learn about the importance of civic engagement and what your role as a an active member of the community could look like. How does the government work? Where do you want to get involved? What issues do you care about?

Dare to Find the Light Immigrant Liberty Awards

Thursday, August 19 | Pre-show at 5:45pm Free to attend Register for the online event at: Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network (RMIAN) will host its annual fundraising event—The Immigrant Liberty Awards—virtually this year. The awards celebrate immigrants and exceptional advocates in the community and supports RMIAN’s critical work fighting for justice for families and children in immigration proceedings in Colorado. This year, publisher of Asian Avenue magazine, Christina Yutai Guo, will be honored with an award.

Asian Chamber of Commerce Summer Tasting Gala Friday, August 20 | 5pm to 8pm Denver Botanic Gardens 1007 York St, Denver, CO 80206 Cost: $80 per person Purchase tickets:

Enjoy a casual evening to mingle and munch with old friends and new acquaintances after a very long year. The galla will include a silent auction, wine pull, and food catered by Serendipity Catering.

Event Calendar | Asian Avenue Magazine


COLORADO Chefs By: Kiana Marsan

In this issue, Asian Avenue features the plethora of chefs that call Colorado home. We hoped to showcase a diverse group, one that reflects the breadth of the Asian Pacific Islander culinary experience and its varied influencers. These chefs include the likes of Jeff Osaka, a critically acclaimed restaurateur, to the inspirational work of family YouTuber Michael Tran. Support them by reading their stories, following their work on social media, and frequenting their establishments.


Executive Chef/Owner of Chef Leah’s Kitchen Age: 57 | City: Highlands Ranch Ethnicity: Filipino Favorite Dish: Pinakbet


August 2021 | Cover Story

Leah Eveleigh is an executive chef of Chef Leah’s Kitchen, a catering company specializing in modern Asian and Filipino cuisine. They work at Hawaiian luau weddings or as private chefs, and they conduct virtual cooking classes as well. Chef Eveleigh is a local celebrity chef, as she is the first person from Denver to compete in the popular show, Cutthroat Kitchen hosted by Alton Brown. She was the winner of this Food Network show during Season 2 in Episode 6. She has also appeared in Season 2 of Supermarket Stakeout. Chef Eveleigh is a graduate of the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts and attended their Boulder campus. Her formal culinary training is in French cuisine. She gained popularity at the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival, where she serves Filipino food. She has previously been the restaurant owner of Tropical Grill, and she has worked in fine dining at the Art Hotel and Departure Denver. Contact Chef Eveleigh at or 720.339.5252. Follow her on Facebook: @Leaheveleigh and @chefleaheveleigh or Instagram @chefleaheveleigh.

TOMMY LEE Monkey Brain

Taku Signature Roll

Son of Hong Kong immigrants, Tommy Lee grew up in Denver with a spoiled food background because of constant travels back to Hong Kong to visit family. Gatherings focused around street food, fine dining, and everything in between helped shape his future as chef and owner of Uncle Highlands, Uncle West Wash Park and Hop Alley. In 2020, Chef Lee was nominated as a James Beard Semi-Finalist for “Best Chef: Mountain Region” for Hop Alley’s modern approach to regional Chinese cuisine. Whether it’s ramen at Uncle or fried rice at Hop Alley, you’ll find dishes rooted in tradition with nuanced touches of creativity, carefully curated beverage programs, and casual yet well-informed hospitality.

Chef/Owner of Taku Sushi Age: 26 | City: Thornton Ethnicity: Laotian and Hmong Favorite Dish: Beef pad thai

SOUDCHAY PETER PHAKONEKHAM Peter Phakonekham started working in restaurants when he was 16 years old at a local café called Siloam Café in Arkansas where he grew up. In 2019, he began working as a server, then became a manager and chef. He is now a sushi restaurant owner, opening Taku Sushi in Commerce City and Centennial. He also helps manage Okinawa Sushi in Northglenn, Orion Sushi in Lakewood, and Misaki in Superior. Chef Phakonekham attends the University of Colorado Denver part-time while working at his restaurants. He has been a part of clubs such as the Vietnamese Student Association, Asian Student Association, and Hmong Student Association of Colorado, and loves being active in the Asian community. He participates in local events and enjoys spreading awareness about his Laotian and Hmong heritage. Chef Phakonekham started cooking at the age of 19 by learning from his mother. More recently, he has been focused on making sushi. He says, “As I started to get more into cooking, I began to see it as a form of art.” Contact Chef Phakonekham at soudchay3@gmail. com or follow him on Instagram @Akihiro_Peeta.

Credit: Sarah Banks 5280 Magazine

Chef/Owner of Uncle Restaurants and Hop Alley Age: 40 | City: Denver Ethnicity: Chinese Favorite Dish: Fried chicken

Visit and, or follow Chef Lee on Instagram @tommyminglee.

Uncle Highlands @unclerestaurant

Uncle West Wash Park @unclewwp

Hop Alley @hopalleydenver

Colorado Chefs | Asian Avenue Magazine



Chef/Owner of Meta Asian Kitchen Age: 37 | City: Denver | Ethnicity: Chinese Favorite Dish: Whole poached chicken served with ginger scallion sauce and soy sauce

KENNETH WAN Kenneth Wan is the chef and owner of Meta Asian Kitchen, located at Avanti Food and Beverage in Denver. They specialize in fast casual, family-style Chinese food. Much of the menu is inspired by what he ate growing up with his parents, who are immigrants from Hong Kong. Upon arriving in Colorado, his goal was to share with the community of Denver all the Chinese food he knows and love. He says, “My mission is to show people there is a whole other world of great Chinese food that extends beyond what most Americans know it as.” Chef Wan grew up as a restaurant kid. His parents owned a Chinese take-out restaurant, a hole-in-thewall type place in Boston, Massachusetts. He was formally trained at the French Culinary Institute in New York City (now known as the International Culinary Center) as a part of the class of 2010. He spent a decade working his way up in New York City, cooking for restaurants such as Momofuku, Redfarm, Hillstone, and more. Contact Chef Wan at Visit or follow Meta Asian Kitchen on Instagram and TikTok @metaasiankitchen.


August 2021 | Cover Story

Michael Tran is proud to be a chef. He takes cooking seriously and infuses his passion into all of the meals he cooks. When people enjoy his cooking, it brings him joy. Completing the Stouffer Hotels & Resorts Culinary Development Program, his work ethic, passion, and professionalism have allowed him to be the sous chef for United Airlines Catering for the past 25 years. To escape communism, Chef Tran immigrated to the US from Vietnam in 1980 as a teenager. His journey to America wasn’t easy or linear. Even though he traveled by himself, he never stopped thinking of and supporting his family. In order to send money home, he skipped school to work and found his passion for cooking. Chef Tran creates low-budget and high-quality meals for dinner, and through his YouTube channel, he wants to create a digital cookbook to pass down to his children. Meals include anything from Asian to Italian cuisine. When he retires, he hopes to run his own catering business so he can continue his passion for cooking and bring people together with food. He is a chef by day and a family man by night. Visit or follow Chef Tran on YouTube and Facebook @FamilyDinnerWithChefMike.

BBQ Ribs

Asian Chicken Pasta

Host of Family Dinner With Chef Mike (YouTube/Facebook) Age: 56 | City: Aurora Ethnicity: Vietnamese Favorite Dish: To eat, bun bo hue. To cook, everything from French cuisine to Asian cuisine.


Pan Fried Noodles


Chef/Owner of Ramen Star Age: 43 | City: Denver Ethnicity: Japanese Favorite Dish: Ramen & Tsukemen

Takashi Tamai moved to Denver in 1999 to study in the business school at the University of Colorado Denver. His love of cooking brought him back to Tokyo for training on how to perfect his ramen bowl. After a year in Tokyo, he returned to Denver to find the ideal loChocolate cation in Sunnyside, Denver to Ramen Star open Ramen Star. He wants to make the community happy by providing authentic ramen made from scratch, the richest housemade soup, and the freshest handcrafted noodles in Denver. He welcomes people to try their new menu item, Tsukemen. Their newest creation is coming soon—chocolate ramen star! And in Denver, it can only be found at Ramen Star. Chef Tamai says, “I believe I can offer a new ramen culture to people in Colorado.” Visit or follow Ramen Star on Instagram @ramen stardenver or Facebook @4044tejon.


Pastry Chef Instructor at Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts Age: 31 | City: Denver Ethnicity: Vietnamese Favorite Dish: Pan fried salt, pepper, garlic chicken, with jasmine rice, maggi and pickled mustard greens

Thoa Nguyen is currently a pastry chef instructor at Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts. She hopes that one day she will have the opportunity to expand on the pastry and culinary experience in Denver. One of her goals is to bring new food experiences through a fusion of Asian/French cuisine. Chef Nguyen believes that fusing cultures is about more than just flavors, but also the techniques and methods that play a role within cultures. She attended Johnson and Wales University for Baking and Pastry Arts and completed the pastry program at Ecole Nationale Supérieure de la Pâtisserie located in Yssingeaux, France. Professionally, she focuses on pastry arts. However, she loves cooking as well. She says, “I have to feed people because it’s my way of showing love and sharing my food.” Chef Nguyen has a natural chef instinct that runs in her family. Her parents were the original owners of New Saigon Restaurant for over 35 years. In 2012, the family opened up New Saigon Bakery and Deli, and her sister and brother-in-law run it to this day. Her other sister is a chef at Savory Vietnam. Her culinary background mainly comes from her mom, but she says, “I often call all four of my sisters to ask how a dish is made because all of us have our strengths when it comes to cooking.” Through working with family and growing up in the industry, Chef Nguyen is extremely comfortable being around food. Contact Chef Nguyen at or follow her on Instagram @Passtheplate303. Colorado Chefs | Asian Avenue Magazine


JEFF OSAKA Chef/Operating Partner of Osaka Ramen, Sushi-Rama, Empire Lounge & Restaurant Age: 56 City: LA transplant in Wheat Ridge Ethnicity: Japanese Favorite Dish: Chicken kara age at Osaka Ramen

Photo Credit: Jeff Nelson


August 2021 | Cover Story

Born in Los Angeles, where the food is as diverse as the city’s culture, chef and visionary Jeff Osaka has always been fascinated by the restaurant industry. In 2015, Chef Osaka opened Osaka Ramen, his interpretation of a traditional ramen shop as well as Sushi-Rama, a conveyor-belt sushi concept, both located in the heart of Denver’s RiNo Arts District. In fall 2016, Osaka, alongside business partner Ken Wolf, introduced the Denver Central Market and later that year, Chef Osaka brought back his critically-acclaimed twelve concept with 12@Madison in the Congress Park neighborhood. Throughout his 30+ years of experience, Chef Osaka worked in the professional kitchens of Chefs Bradley Ogden at One Market, Wolfgang Puck at Chinois Las Vegas, Joachim Splichal of Patina, and Josiah Citrin’s 2-Michelin Star restaurant Melisse. Osaka moved to Jackson Hole, Wyoming where he, alongside friend and Wine Director Ken Fredrickson M.S., opened Restaurant Terroir in 1998 which was followed by Asian-influenced Koshu in 2000. Osaka has also worked as a private chef, cooking for notable names in Hollywood including the Steven Spielberg family. In 2014, Chef Osaka received a James Beard Foundation Best Chef Southwest nomination. In 2019, Chef Osaka added to his line-up the 12year old Empire Lounge & Restaurant in downtown Louisville, Colo. Follow his restaurants on Instagram @osaka ramendenver, @sushi_rama_restaurants, and @empireloungelouisville or follow Chef Osaka on Instagram @chefjeffosaka.

JEREMY SONG Jeremy Song started working in food service at an early age and has since garnered experience in every capacity of the industry for over two decades. When the opportunity arose to open Turtle Boat, he prioritized sustainability, minimizing food waste, restructuring conventional kitchen roles, and supporting local farmers by creating unique menu items to showcase their produce. His deeply rooted family history and early working experience in agriculture shaped his perspective, and motivated him bridge the disconnect between the producers of food and those who prepare and consume it. With influence and inspiration from a culturally diverse culinary background, Chef Song seeks to push his cuisine to evolve beyond “traditional” and “authentic.” Follow Chef Song on Instagram @chefjeremysong or follow Turtle Boat on Instagram and Facebook @turtleboat. Chef/Owner of Spuntino Age: 35 | City: Denver Ethnicity: South Indian Favorite Dish: Dad’s chicken curry


Chef/Owner of Turtle Boat Age: 37 | City: Denver Ethnicity: Korean and Chinese Favorite Dish: Mom’s handmade dumplings

Cindhura Reddy fell in love with food while cooking alongside her Indian-born parents. A Cleveland native, Chef Reddy was on the path to becoming a lawyer when her classmate and future husband, Elliot Strathmann, convinced her to follow her passion. The two moved to Philadelphia, where she attended culinary school and joined the opening team of Mike Solomonov’s Zahav. After she and Strathmann married in 2011, they went on an epic eating adventure through Southeast Asia and Europe, picking up techniques and ideas in nearly two dozen countries. Upon their return, they moved to Colorado. In 2014, Strathmann took over the bar program at Spuntino and Chef Reddy joined the team as chef de cuisine, earning a spot on Zagat’s “30 Under 30” list. Now, as owners of Spuntino, they have made it their own with Strathmann’s robust wine and house amaro programs and Chef Reddy’s brand of Italian cuisine accented with Indian touches and global influences. A South Indian food take out menu, an Easter bunny suit delivery service, cooking and delivering hundreds of fresh meals to health care providers - this restaurant has weathered a lot this year but never lost its way. Visit or follow Chef Reddy on Instagram @cindhura or @spuntinodenver. Colorado Chefs | Asian Avenue Magazine


THACH TRAN Thach Tran first fell in love with food on the streets of his birthplace in Saigon, Vietnam. At seven years old, he began washing dishes at his grandmother’s two noodle restaurants, where she taught him to appreciate the intricacies of good food. When Chef Tran was nine, his grandmother sold her restaurants and moved the family to America. In 2010, Chef Tran graduated from the culinary program at Johnson & Wales University. Since, he has worked in top Denver restaurants, including as executive sous chef at ChoLon for five years. In 2017, Chef Tran became the Executive Chef of Ace Eat Serve. The high-energy dining room, ping-pong hall, bar and patio perfectly complement Chef Tran’s creative, interactive, and authentically inspired culinary creations. He was promoted to Corporate Chef for Secret Sauce Food & Beverage (Ace, Steuben’s) in 2021, overseeing the culinary program. Visit or secretsaucedenver. com. Follow Chef Tran on Instagram @chefthachtran or Facebook @chefdannytran.

SIRI TAN Siri with his daughter Liliana

Chef/Owner of Urban Burma Age: 39 | City: Denver Ethnicity: Burmese Favorite Dish: Shan Noodle


August 2021 | Cover Story

Corporate Chef of Secret Sauce Food & Beverage Age: 32 | City: Denver | Ethnicity: Vietnamese Favorite Dish: Banh Mi

Born and raised in Burma, Siri Tan spent the first 25 years of his life in Burma, before moving to Thailand. In 2014, he immigrated to Denver, where he missed Burmese foods. At the time, there were no Burmese restaurants in Denver, so he would visit with Burmese families at their homes in order to enjoy Burmese foods. He became increasingly interested in learning how to cook Burmese cuisine and started learning from his brother and Burmese community members. This sparked his idea to open the first Burmese restaurant in Denver. In 2019, Urban Burma opened at the Mango House in Aurora. His motivation to open the restaurant was because many Americans have never experienced Burmese cuisine and in Denver, there was a need for more varieties of Asian food. “I wanted to be the first person to introduce Burmese dishes to Denver.” Contact Chef Tan at, visit urbanburma. co, or follow Urban Burma on Instagram @urbanburma.

DAVE HADLEY A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Dave Hadley draws inspiration from the Southern Indian and ethnic food he grew up eating. Chef Hadley has worked at Bangkok’s two-Michelin-star restaurant Gaggan, noted as the best restaurant in Asia – and the fourth best in the world in the 2019 list of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. Prior to working at Gaggan, Chef Hadley held roles at various acclaimed Denver restaurants including The Preservery, Bijus Little Curry Shop, Nocturne and Acorn. In 2017, he took home the title of “Chopped Champion” from the popular Food Network show, and was also a semi finalist in Zagat’s “30 under 30” rankings. Most recently Chef Hadley took home the title on another show “Supermarket Stakeout” which propelled the idea to create his own brand Samosa Shop in late 2020. Samosa Shop is about bridging the gap of what Indian food is in the US. Chef Hadley takes a simple street food item and transforms it into something so unique but also from the heart. Follow Samosa Shop on Instagram @samosashopco and follow Chef Hadley on Instagram @chefdavehadley.

Chef/Owner of Samosa Shop Age: 28 | City: Denver Ethnicity: Indian / West Indian Favorite Dish: Jerk chicken with macaroni pie

Shef/Owner of Yuan Wonton Age: 40+ | City: Denver Ethnicity: Chinese and Thai Favorite Dish: Saku Sai-Moo (Thai dumplings)

PENELOPE WONG Learning how to cook came naturally to Penelope Wong. After all, she grew up in her family’s restaurant and attending family get togethers that often focused on Chinese and Thai cuisines. She worked through the ranks of a private golf and country club kitchen to eventually become the youngest and first female Executive Chef in the private club’s history. After 20 years in her role as Executive Chef, she learned team building and mentoring skills at a young age. She eventually resigned to create a healthier work/life balance with her young daughter at home. She became an entrepreneur opening Yuan Wonton, a dumpling food truck, in August of 2019 with her husband Rob. The motivation behind this venture was to share the flavors redolent of her childhood with the city of Denver. As an entrepreneur, Chef Wong is most proud of her company’s focus on the local community. She and her team have established a well known standard that their belief in community is priority. Yuan Wonton has donated thousands of dollars from food sales to various causes from feeding healthcare workers to emphasizing the importance behind the Black Lives Matter movement, and more recently she organized a fundraiser that raised $25,000 to donate to AAPI organizations elevating awareness and resources in response to the increase in anti-Asian hate crimes. Follow Yuan Wonton on Instagram @yuanwonton and follow Chef Wong on Instagram @penelopewong. Colorado Chefs | Asian Avenue Magazine



Asian cookbooks inspires the home chef Cooking shows such as Top Chef, Chef’s Table, America’s Test Kitchen, and Chopped are becoming part of American culture as more home chefs and reality show fans tune into these popular food competition programs. These shows are dialing up the diversity equation by showcasing the talents of Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Korean and Filipino chefs from all over the US. After the Asian American chefs appear on these shows, some have created colorful cookbooks. These cookbooks are the ideal companion tool in the kitchen to inspire home chefs to give Asian cuisine a try!

Cook Real Hawai’i Chef Sheldon Simeon, a finalist of Top Chef, released his debut cookbook last March. The cookbook is filled with a plethora of Hawaiian recipes with influences from Japan, Korea, the Philippines and Portugal. Catch him on Instagram @chefwonder as he features his recipes with other award-winning chefs. All proceeds from the sale of the cookbook will be donated to a local nonprofit organization dedicated to feeding the community in Hawaii. Indian Cooking Unfolded After Raghavan Iyer departed from Mumbai and settled in Minneapolis, he found himself craving Indian cuisine. He realized he needed substitute ingredients from US supermarkets. As a result of his discoveries, he produced a cookbook with 100 simple recipes, using less than ten ingredients. Iyer is also host of the Emmy-winning documentary Asian Flavors. Visit his website at Vietnamese Food Any Day Chef Andrea Nguyen has produced six cookbooks on Vietnamese cuisine, making them simple and easy for home cooks. “Practice, eat your mistakes, and celebrate your successes. Make connections with others and never fear asking questions. No one knows everything. I certainly don’t!” Nguyen said. Check out all of her cookbooks at 101 Asian Dishes You Need to Cook Before You Die Jet Tila, who appears as a regular judge on Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen brings you the cookbook that covers all the basics of Asian cooking from Tom Yum Soup to California Rolls. With a foreword written by Chef Alton Brown, this cookbook provides straightforward recipes across the spectrum of Asian cuisines. Visit his website at


August 2021 | Cover Story

The Philippine Cookbook Manhattan resident Reynaldo Alejandro is a renaissance man, showcasing his culinary talents, serving as a caterer, and sharing his love of art as a dancer and choreographer. He was the coordinator of food arrangements for the Philippines display at Bloomingdale’s in New York. His classic cookbook, written in the 80’s, is filled with recipes, adapted for the American kitchen. Classic Filipino dishes include chicken adobo, pancit noodles, and lechon (roasted pork). The book can be found on Amazon and Penguin Randomhouse. Japanese Cookbook for Beginners: Classic and Modern Recipes Made Easy Dining at a Japanese restaurant can be intimidating. Imagine easing that dining experience at your own home. Home cook and food blogger Azusa Oda creates a cookbook to guide the everyday home chef through simple steps adding suggestions on kitchen tools and how to stock up with the necessities for Japanese cuisine. Visit her blog at L.A. Son: My Life, My City, My Food Korean chef Roy Choi, considered the godfather of food trucks, creates a combo memoir and cookbook to pay homage to his city of Los Angeles (LA). In this book, Choi takes readers through the neighborhood and streets most tourists never venture. The cookbook is filled with more than 85 innovative recipes that meld the various traditions and flavors of LA, including Korean fried chicken, carne asada, homemade chorizon, and kimchi and pork belly. Visit his website at This is just a short list of Asian cookbooks compiled by Mary Jeneverre Schultz, who enjoys watching cooking shows. If you have a favorite not listed here, let Asian Avenue Magazine know at We want to hear from you!

As part of our food feature, Asian Avenue presents two restaurants that are preserving the culture and cuisine of the Southeast Asian community in Colorado—Tuk Tuk Thai and Casian Seafood. Both of them are family-owned and rooted in stories of migration and diaspora.

Tuk Tuk Thai Restaurants and Mama Sue’s Kitchen Mama Sue and Papa Vic have had many restaurants and businesses throughout their 50 years in the US. Their very first endeavor was grocery stores and travel agencies. Tuk Tuk is the family’s longest-running business and started 21 years ago with its first Westminster location. Following that, came other locations in Lakewood, Denver and Denver DTC. The concept of Tuk Tuk is Thai food with a twist of Western inspiration. Mama Sue and Papa Vic have been working hard ever since stepping foot onto American soil to be where they are at today. Continuing on their legacy, their first generation children have developed a new brand called Mama Sue’s Kitchen. WESTMINSTER 10667 Westminster Blvd

LAKEWOOD 218 Union Blvd Instagram: @tuktukrocks

DENVER 8000 E Quincy Ave

Casian Seafood Led by the creative talent of Chef Dovi Xiong, Casian Seafood combines Asian and Cajun flavors by serving seafood boils with a twist. The seafood boil is one of the most popular dishes. Accented by ginger and lemongrass, Casian throw in complimentary andouille sausage, corn on the cob, and potatoes with every boil. Their Hmong sausage, Cornish game hen, larb, pork belly banh mi, papaya, shrimp, and eggrolls are must-trys as well. Casian Seafood is locally and family-owned by Chef Xiong, who is of Hmong descent, and his wife Maria. The two have been together since high school Xiong grew up in Lafayette, and he is now raising his children in his hometown. He previously owned a franchise, but where unfortunately his cooking skills and expertise couldn’t be showcased. But with Casian Seafood, he is able to embrace his ethnic background and heritage by serving authentic dishes. Meals that he grew up eating at the dinner table with his family is what inspires him. They hold the best childhood memories. LAFAYETTE 211 N Public Rd, Suite 110 Instagram: @casian_seafood Restaurants | Asian Avenue Magazine



1710 S. Buckley Rd, Suite 8A Aurora CO 80017 720-899-4243 Website: Instagram: @smilematic

Schedule an appointment today! DALE KIM, DDS

University of Southern California

Smilematic opens in Aurora providing dental services to diverse patients Last month, Smilematic Dental opened its doors in Aurora. The office provides almost every aspect of dentistry to their patients. This includes general checks up, cleanings, extractions, root canals, dentures, crowns, and cosmetic dentistry. Dr. Dale Kim adds, “we also perform implants and have a CBCT machine in our office.” The 3D cone beam computed tomography is an imaging technology that allows dentists to evaluate the underlying bone structure, as well as the nerve pathways and surrounding soft tissues. Smilematic is the second office owned by Dr. Dale Kim and Dr. Michelle Noh, who also own Dayton Dental just a few miles away. In the summer of 2015, Dr. Kim and Dr. Noh moved to Colorado to find a healthy work-life balance. They were drawn to the close proximity of the mountains as they enjoyed hiking and exploring nature. In partnership with Dr. Sujee Noh, the three dentists opened Smilematic to better serve the Aurora community. Dr. Kim says: “Aurora is home to a wide gamut of people, from millennials to veterans to immigrants to retirees. This intrigued us as we would be able to provide care for people of all different cultures and backgrounds. We love getting to know our patients and listening to their stories.” With a patient centered care approach, they believe it is their job as healthcare providers to provide treatment according to each patient’s specific needs, preferences, and values. For the anxious patient, empathy and communication go a long way; for the disabled patient, we need time, compassion, trust. The staff is also fluent in English, Korean and Spanish. Even before the pandemic, infection control was always a top priority in their offices. Both Smilematic and Dayton Dental continue to perform COVID screenings and obtain thermal temperatures for staff and patients. Hand sanitizer is available throughout the office. Visit to learn more about their services and to schedule an appointment.


August 2021 | Inside Story


University of Southern California

SUJEE NOH, DDS University of the Pacific

Musician Logan Chan releases Crow in the City Chinese-American instrumentalist and vocalist shares his original music and lyrics in new EP album

Logan Chan

Logan Chan is a Denver-based multi-instrumentalist who celebrates the casual beauty of the everyday with jazz harmonies, breezy vocals, and various R&B, rock and Latin beats. The Chinese-American musician grew up outside of Boulder, where he met the high school and college friends that would play on his first release years later. Chan’s debut EP (extended play) album, “Crow in the City,” contains original songs with retrofuturist effects, distinct horns, introspective lyrics, and live drums. Chan sings in addition to playing electric bass and keys. According to Chan, the title “Crow in the City” was inspired by the crows he saw while looking out his apartment window this past year. He said, “They really inspired me with their low-key charm and beauty. They are highly intelligent creatures who like to do their own thing, unbothered by the hustle and bustle of the city.”

Chan spent his childhood listening to contemporary rock and oldies radio stations in addition to his parents’ Cantopop and Mandopop collection (e.g. Teresa Teng, Anita Mui, and others). After years of studying classical piano, he let the keyboard fall silent while getting his undergraduate degree on the East Coast. After returning to Colorado as an adult, he began learning jazz piano and song composition while jamming with different friends and groups. In 2017, he began organizing small ensembles and playing keys in restaurants and bars around Denver. This EP is the first time that Chan’s musical influences and ideas were worked into original audio recordings and productions. From this audio launching point, Chan hopes to continue releasing new music that spreads good vibes around the Denver community. “Crow in the City” also features BK Kahn, a percussionist who has played and recorded with the finest Front Range jazz musi-

BK Kahn

Credit: Jack Sasson

Listen to Crow in the City at cians, and plays drum kit, tambourine, and shaker. Nicholas Killeen, who, like Kahn is also a CU Boulder Jazz Studies graduate who plays in various Denver ensembles, contributed the tenor saxophone parts. All the songs were recorded and produced by Michael Lenssen, a Denver multi-instrumentalist who has toured as a horns, keys, and electronic wind instrument player. In 2021, Lenssen was credited with programming effects on Maria Schneider’s Grammy award-winning album “Data Lords.” He also contributed keys, trumpet, cornet, and flugelhorn. Michael Lenssen

Chan is happy to be making music with friends from the Denver music scene. He has started playing live again with a local cocktail band called the Carport Jazz Quartet. Follow @LoganChanMusic to stay up to date on the band and upcoming events and hear their music at logan

Spotlight | Asian Avenue Magazine


Credit: Adobe Stock



August 2021 | Feature

that 60% of the Japanese population disapproved of the event. In the U.S. trials, numerous Black runners were disqualified from participating. Sha’Carri Richardson was suspended for using marijuana after her mother’s death. Brianna McNeal cannot run for five years because she missed a drug test after having an abortion. CeCe T CeCe Telfer, a Black transgender el woman, was dismissed for her testosterone levels. The same rule has been applied to intersex and cisgender Black women as well. It is based on the debunked myth that the hormone enhances physical performance, and it ignores the reality that sport allows other biological differences such as height and weight. It is a barrier rooted in transphobia and the racist belief that Black folks are built “stronger” as descendants of slavery. For Asian American athletes, this Olympics is particularly difficult when put in context with the rise in anti-Asian hate and violence. They are competing for a country that sees them as the eternal foreigner. Their bodies are being sexualized and dehumanized on this global stage, as commentators frequently note how “fragile” and “delicate” Asian women are compared to their white counterparts. Despite these challenges and the Olympics’

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After a year delay due to the coronavirus, the Tokyo Olympic Games started on July 23. For some, this event is an opportunity for Asian athletes to gain visibility on an international level. But the Olympics is also an institution that must be called out for its past and present failures to reckon with its oppressive practices. The modern Olympics was the conception of a wealthy French aristocrat who sought to test the “manly virtue” of himself and his peers. During the St. Louis Olympics of 1904, the World Fair organized a “Savage Olympics” alongside the games. Indigenous, African, and Asian people were forced to compete against white athletes in an effort to confirm that the people of color were biologically inferior. In 1936, the U.S. sent BIPOC athletes to the Berlin games while the country was under the control of the Nazi regime. Black women were not allowed to compete until 1932, and it wasn’t until 1968 that women were allowed to participate in track events farther than 200 meters. The 2020 Olympics are not removed from their origins. The decision to host in Tokyo has been criticized, as Japan faces rising COVID-19 rates and poor vaccination numbers. On July 27, the city hit a new high of 2,848 daily cases. Hospitals are preparing for a spike as a result of the games bringing droves of athletes and reporters from all over the world. A survey found

By: Kiana Marsan

looming history, competthem is Filipina weightlifter itors of Asian descent and Hidilyn Diaz, who has won Jay Litherland Naomi Osaka heritage have excelled in the country its first gold their sports. Naomi Osaka, a bimedal in history. It includes racial tennis player who is Japanese and 13-year-old skateboarder Momiji Haitian, lit the Olympic cauldron at the start of the Nishiya, who is Japan’s youngest gold Momiji Nishiya games. Jay Litherland, a Japanese swimmer, was medalist and the Olympics’ first-ever the first Asian American to win a medal this year. winner in women’s skateboarding. In fencSunisa Lee, an American gymnast of Hmong de- ing, Cheung Ka-long has won Hong Kong its scent, received the gold medal in gymnastics after first gold medal in 25 years. These are a few of many winning the women’s all-around final of the Tokyo accomplished athletes who belong to the Asian 2020 Olympic Games. community. As of July 28, China has collected almost 30 The Olympics itself does not deserve praise— medals, with 12 being gold. Japan the institution continues to harm marhas accrued over 20 medals, ginalized groups and perpetat least 13 of which have uate past aggressions. But been gold. the BIPOC athletes who Over 20 Asian athletes have worked and trained are winning gold medals for this moment do, and Cheung Sunisa Lee for the first time. Among they should be celebrated. Ka-long Hidilyn Diaz




Photos by: Julius Garrido

Neal Walia announces run for US Congress

On July 10, Neal Walia announced his run for Congress in Colorado’s first district, a seat that mostly represents Denver. The event opened with a breakdance and Taiko drum performance by Thomas Knight and the School of Breaking, and an introduction by educator and activist Tim Hernandez. With over 150 people in attendance, the diverse crowd gathered at Denver’s Alameda Square Shopping Center felt more like a celebration than a political announcement for a candidate who has never run before, with dancing, music, art, and cuisine from local artists and restaurants. Walia is the son of immigrant parents who came to the US from India to provide their family with more opportunities. He was born and raised in an immigrant neighborhood in Seattle until the age of 11, when his father got a job in Denver and moved his family to Highlands Ranch. Walia and his family became deeply involved in their South Asian community, ensuring that Walia and his sister were able to grow up with others who shared their experiences and help each other overcome the othering and xenophobia they experienced in school. At the University of Colorado-Boulder, he got involved in politics and campus organizing. He was able to attend the Demo-

cratic Convention where President Barack Obama accepted the nomination for President, and it was this moment where he finally saw himself in a politician and believed that he, too, could run for office and make a difference in his community. When asked his main reasons for running for Congress, Walia points to our country’s largest crises today: healthcare, housing, and environment. Walia is a supporter of Medicare for All because he believes no one should lose their life, home, or job because of an illness or injury bankrupting them. He believes that ensuring access to safe, affordable housing for all and helping those who are unhoused in Denver get off the streets is crucial to ensuring that our residents can stay healthy and secure, and will advocate to ensure dependable, comfortable housing for all people in this country. Walia also knows that healthy communities must be clean and unpolluted, as so many health issues can come from breathing polluted air and drinking polluted water. At the event, Walia called himself a grassroots candidate who is running to bring the community’s voice to Washington. If he wins, he will be the first candidate of color to ever hold this seat in Congress.

Tim Hernandez

To learn more about his campaign, visit 22

August 2021 | On Scene

Colorado Asian Americans running for city councils



ADAM FUNG is running for Aurora City Council At Large in the 2021 election on November 2, 2021. Fung’s parents immigrated from China to the US seeking opportunity, eventually beginning a successful small business. Through their journey, he discovered that diversity builds stronger and healthier communities, especially in Aurora. As he realized that natural disasters like hurricanes, tornados, and wildfires were on the rise, he enlisted in the Colorado National Guard. In the fall of 2020, he was activated to provide support against the record forest fires that struck in the midst of the pandemic. He enjoys volunteering for his community, especially at soup kitchens and food drives. He will be a tireless advocate for an inclusive city that properly values its immigrant neighbors. To learn more about his campaign, visit BECKY HOGAN is running for Aurora City Council At Large in the 2021 election on November 2, 2021. As an an orphan, Hogan immigrated to the US from Korea when she was an infant. She became naturalized at the age of four. She is proud to be an Auroran and am grateful for the opportunity to serve her city. She active volunteers in the community and serves as Chair of the Korean Committee-Aurora Sister Cities International and Planning Commissioner for the Aurora Planning and Zoning Commission. She is also an accredited Certified Economic Developer (CEcD). She owned and managed a small business in Aurora (Edge Consulting Services) providing site due diligence, project development, economic development and strategic planning services for over a decade. Hogan was married to former Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan, who passed away unexpectedly in 2018 while holding that office. To learn more about her campaign, visit


KATE MIYA is running for Thornton City Council’s Ward 3 in the 2021 election on November 2, 2021. Kate Miya grew up in Thornton where her grandparents rooted the family in 1978. She was educated in the Adams 12 Five Star Schools District, including her student teaching. She graduated with a degree in English an an emphasis in secondary education from the University of Northern Colorado in 2009. Over the years, Miya has taught 7th-12th grade English/Language Arts and formed incredibly strong bonds with her students. She believes that every student has the ability to contribute to their communities in a meaningful way while finding fulfillment in their individual lives. As a City Councilmember, she will give her signature attention to detail, thoroughness, and dedication to the citizens of Thornton, especially towards issues like safety and responsible growth of the city. To learn more about her campaign, visit


JEEVA SENTHILNATHAN ran for Parker Town Council’s on April 2, 2021 to fill two vacancies. Joshua Rivero and Anne Barrington won the special election. As one of the the youngest Coloradans to ever serve as legislative staff in the State Capitol, Senthilnathan learned the value of sound and thorough policy. As a recipient of the President’s Volunteer Service Award, she knows what it means to care about the people in her community. She is currently pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering and computer science from the Colorado School of Mines. Senthilnathan was recently nominated for the UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s Diana Award and the United Nations’ 2021 Global Teen Leader Award. She’s also won awards for her scientific research on mental health in schools, where she used electroencephalography (EEG) waves monitoring behavioral and educational factors to conduct groundbreaking research on childhood trauma in teenagers. To learn more about her campaign and plans for the future, visit On Scene | Asian Avenue Magazine


2021 A VIRTUAL SHOWCASE OF CULTURES AND TRADITIONS Join us online for an expanded lineup of performances, a virtual Parade of Nations and an International Fashion Show or

SATURDAY, AUG. 21 • 11 A.M. TO 12:30 P.M.

Profile for Asian Avenue magazine

Asian Avenue magazine - August 2021  

Cover: Colorado's Asian chefs take the stage

Asian Avenue magazine - August 2021  

Cover: Colorado's Asian chefs take the stage


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