June 1, 2010

Zoe Ma Ma: A New Kind of Chinese Restaurant

Sesame chicken. Orange chicken. Chicken lo mein. So read the average Chinese-restaurant menu five or 10 years ago. And in spots where modernity is slow to take hold, you might still find this stodgy list. But you won't find it in new Chinese restaurants. As U.S. culture has become more familiar with authentic foreign foods, new Asian spots have popped up offering more honest versions of traditional Chinese dumplings, soups, and more. And Boulder now has a particularly interesting example: Zoe Ma Ma (pronounced like yo mama, but with a z).

Early last month, Edwin Zoe, a restaurateur from Northern China, opened an informal eatery on Pearl Street to showcase the authentic flavors he grew up with. He put his mom in charge of the kitchen, and she uses old family recipes (and local and organic produce) to make hearty noodles; tangy, peppery hot-and-sour soup; savory noodle bowls with fresh vegetables; and seasoned dumplings. Her food is wholesome fare that has none of the cloying sweetness or fatty batters of classic American Chinese food.

Like much of the new Asian food, Zoe Ma Ma's dishes taste of fresh ingredients and light sauces. But unlike the food in many of these spots, Zoe Ma Ma's dishes are definitely not chef driven. The meals are simple in their presentation and flavors--and they teach the flavors of Chinese home cooking, not Chinese restaurants. Which means that Zoe Ma Ma has a culinary edge even within the realm of new Chinese restaurants: Here, its not just traditional Chinese recipes, but also home-cooked ones, that define contemporary Chinese.

Zoe Ma Ma, 2010 10th St., 303-545-6262

Kazia Jankowski
Associate Culinary Director

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