Lowry bid farewell to Bubu on May 7, but that was not the last the Hangar 2 development would see of chef Troy Guard. Rather, it was a 13-day closure to turn the tables, change up the menu, and reopen as Lucky Cat. Guard’s decision for the transformation came as he saw that Bubu—though greatly popular in Larmier Square—wasn’t the right fit for the area. “It just didn’t translate as I wanted it to,” said Guard. “We were basically running two different concepts with the same name, and it wasn’t working.”
After a full redesign of the restaurant, Lucky Cat opens today, dishing up riffs on Chinese food. “It’s not authentic. It’s not traditional,” Guard said. “It’s just a fun take on Chinese.” The decor features vibrant colors and plenty of Asian pop art. A collage of the things Guard loves is above the chef’s counter, including the Denver skyline, Bruce Lee, and sushi. And throughout the restaurant, you’ll find—you guessed it—lucky cats everywhere.
The menu features appetizers, a selection of sushi, chef’s specials, and noodles. Appetizers are smaller plates priced so guests can share multiple dishes such as lucky dumplings ($6.88), fall-off-the-bone Chinese-style spare ribs ($10.58), spring onion pancakes ($8) with roasted duck, hoisin and sambal. Sushi strays from tradition, where you find the white tiger roll ($8.08) with hamachi and jalapeño topped with quinoa. Chef’s specials are larger dishes with Guard’s takes on beef and broccoli ($16.80) or General Guard ($15.98), a mashup of orange chicken and General Tso’s chicken.
Drinks at Lucky Cat include sakes by the cup, carafe, or flight at prices that invite guests to explore variations of the Japanese rice wine. Cocktails ($8) were developed by Nikki Guard and Michael Cerretani to pair with the eclectic menu. The Bankok Summer stands out both in its color and ingredients. Thai chili vodka is mixed with mint, turmeric syrup, lemon, and soda for a bright and citrusy drink spiked with herbs. Guests can also enjoy bottled beers from Korea, China, Japan, and Laos as well as a small selection of draft beers.
You may have noticed a lot of 8s in the prices, and that isn’t without reason—Guard said it’s a lucky number in China. “People will try to get the number in their phone numbers, addresses, and even wedding dates.”
Expect happy hour Tuesday through Friday, 3-6 p.m. with food and drink specials from $2 to $5. If you don’t quite have the time to dine in, call ahead with your order and a server will bring it out to your car.
All photography by Charles Hildreth