What: Sisters and Bangkok natives, Bo Bean and Arisa Chanchokpong, bring a taste of modern-day Thailand to Larimer Street
Where: 2134 Larimer St., Denver
When: Opens February 1. Regular hours: Sunday – Thursday, 11 a.m. – 10 p.m., Friday – Saturday, 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.
When Aloy Modern Thai opens it doors today, February 1, downtown diners will be offered a taste of modern-day Thailand. While there’s no shortage of Thai food in the metro area, Aloy Modern intends to focus on fusion flavors and techniques found in Bangkok’s most progressive restaurants.
Owners Bo Bean and Arisa Chanchokpong—Bangkok natives and third-generation Chinese-Thai—immigrated to the United States in 2006 with their mother, Kim Naka, and soon began working in the restaurant industry. The sisters paid their dues at Aloy Thai, their mother’s similarly titled restaurant (“aloy” is derived from aroy, the Thai word for delicious) before taking the next steps of proprietorship. Whereas the Boulder-based spot highlights traditional family recipes, the sisters promise “lighter, fresher, and healthier” interpretations of modern Thai food.
To uphold this ethos, the sisters revisited Thailand, hand-selected innovative local chefs, and brought them into Aloy Modern’s kitchen. Helmed by Ray Srisamer, who has over 25 years of cooking experience including stints in Japan and Thailand, the international kitchen displays versatility that pays homage to traditional tastes. While the menu features familiar fare such as tom kha gai, drunken noodles, and a pad thai recipe borrowed from Naka, the restaurant’s highlights are its decidedly modern dishes.
“The international kitchen displays versatility that pays homage to traditional tastes.”
Consider the Tar Tar Tuna ($14), an unconventional twist on the French classic that marries a traditional ginger and lemongrass taste with an enlivening spicy lime sauce and crunchy housemade rice cake. The alligator small plate ($14), with its Thai herbs and spicy black pepper has a similar effect—plus, the bite-size pieces alligator are perfectly cooked, negating the overly-chewy texture that many diners may associate with the protein. And the Tofu Pomelo Salad ($12), which balances the mildly tangy citrus flavors of the pomelo fruit with a spicy lemongrass dressing, is traditional in taste, but wonderfully modern in presentation.
The restaurant’s larger dishes further this idea of modernity. Standout Mussamun Rack of Lamb ($20) riffs on classic Thai yellow curry dishes with its inclusion of beet, sweet potato, and tea spices including star anise. Plates such as Captain Cobia ($20) displays the sisters’ emphasis on conscious consumption (they place a heavy emphasis on local, sustainable purveyors) as much as the kitchen’s forward-thinking ethos. The dish showcases seared cobia, a versatile, meaty fish that not only boasts a buttery sashimi-quality taste, but also has drawn praise for its sustainability and health benefits.
Further distancing itself from other Colorado Thai destinations is Aloy Modern Thai’s elevated bar program, led by Jordan Clark who honed his craft in Las Vegas. Whereas most traditional joints include ubiquitous Singha and sake options (both of which can be found here), the restaurant boasts impressive wine, beer, and spirit selections. The restaurant’s current draft offerings include beers from Platt Park Brewing Company, Ratio Beerworks, Copper Kettle Brewing Company, and Great Divide Brewing Company. Well-selected whites that pair perfectly with the restaurant’s spiciest dishes accent the wine list. And the cocktail program features the Layover in Tokyo ($10), a quaffable concoction of sake, rum, matcha syrup, and citrus, and the Smokey Dreams ($14), a warming, whiskey-based cocktail that features actual smoke made from Pinot Noir-soaked hickory chips.
Occupying 2134 Larimer Street, best known as the former Trillium space—a restaurant that shuttered just five months ago—the restaurant has big shoes to fill, as far as the downtown-dining scene is concerned. While Ryan Leinonen’s Scandinavian-influenced hotspot catered to discerning diners, it will be interesting to see Aloy Modern’s influence on this Ballpark strip. If it’s any indication, Bean and Chanchokpong kept the former occupant’s open, airy integrity intact. Exposed brick and minimalist touches create a unique experience that mesh with the restaurant’s most creative dishes.
Fusion dishes feel more than appropriate in this categorically contemporary space—but what a bowl of tom yum goong? Time will only tell whether modernity or tradition will inspire repeat visits. But for now, it’s safe to say that the international kitchen’s innovative chops sets Aloy Modern apart from its traditional Colorado counterparts.
All photography by Brittany Werges.