Lon Symensma, ChoLon’s executive chef and co-owner, doesn’t want to color within the lines. His food is fragrant with the exotic spices of Southeast Asia, and you’ll detect influences from Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and even China. Symensma channels the region’s robust cuisines to dream up dishes all his own. Recent menus, though, indicate a subtle nod to the West: a heavenly green curry béarnaise sauce drapes Colorado wagyu beef; Chinese black vinegar offsets a salad of strawberries, mizuna, and futuristic goat cheese spheres. Even if Symensma is tweaking the ChoLon formula slightly, there’s no doubt he continues to be a whiz at bringing texture, color, and dazzling, exotic flavors to his diners. 1555 Blake St., Suite 101, 303-353-5223, cholon.com
Order this: lobster Saigon crêpes with lettuce cups, mushrooms, and fresh herbs
From 5280 Magazine
From ChoLon Bistro
Chef Lon Symensma’s professional journey began at an early age. In 1996, after winning a silver medal in The Culinary Olympics, Lon enrolled at The Culinary Institute of America. After graduating with honors, he spent a year apprenticing in France, Italy and Spain at two Michelin two-star restaurants and San Sebastian’s famed Arzak. In 2001, Lon joined esteemed Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten in New York City at his acclaimed flagship restaurant, Jean-Georges where he spent 2 years developing his passion for Asian ingredients.
Lon went on to travel extensively throughout China and South East Asia, where he participated in the opening of Jean-Georges Shanghai. Upon return to New York City, he became the opening sous chef at Jean-Georges’ iconic South East Asian restaurant, Spice Market. Lon then spent five years as executive chef of New York City’s swank Buddakan. Under his leadership, Buddakan earned a coveted New York Times two star review, and was recognized as the fifth highest grossing restaurant in the United States.
In 2010, Lon relocated to Denver to open ChoLon. ChoLon, which translates to “big market”, is named after the largest Chinese-influenced market in Saigon, Vietnam. Chef Lon brings to life his extensive culinary travels throughout Asia in his Denver restaurant. ChoLon’s menu hallmarks inspired interpretations of traditional dishes found across the exotic Far East. From dim sum or “small bites” to large, family style plates, authentic flavors capture a unique twist for modern palates. The lounge boasts an extensive list of elegant wines, craft beers and handcrafted, artisanal cocktails created to enhance Chef Lon’s creations. In addition to lunch and dinner service, ChoLon offers a small bites and happy hour menu which may be enjoyed in the lounge and patio.
In 2011, ChoLon was a James Beard Finalist for Best New Restaurant in America. Additional accolades also include being named one of the Top 10 Best New Asian Restaurants in America by Details Magazine and has quickly risen to 2nd place in Colorado’s 5280 Magazine’s Top 25 Restaurants list. Lon has personally been recognized with a nomination for Best New Chef in the Southwest by Food and Wine Magazine and has been voted Denver’s Best Chef and Best All-Star Duo by Denver’s Westword publication.