A new quick-service Asian spot opened in the upstairs of Avanti F&B today. In the former Souk Shawarma space, Kaya Kitchen is the fourth concept from chef Lon Symensma ChoLon Restaurant Concepts — including ChoLon Bistro, Cho77 and Concourse. 

Symensma fell in love with Asian cuisine while working under world-renowned Jean-Georges Vongerichten, who sent him to Shanghai with his personal tasting notes and restaurant recommendations to explore in 2002.

“We’re really excited to launch Kaya Kitchen at Avanti and introduce the community to our creative, yet approachable Asian cuisine,” said Symensma. “We think Kaya Kitchen will be an amazing addition to the Avanti collective, offering quick bites, and a flavorful and creative menu that will be the perfect complement for the bar crowd.”

The Space

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Kaya Kitchen joins six other restaurants inside the Avanti community — American Grind, Brava!, Chow Morso, Quiero Arepas, The Regional and Bambo Sushi (slated to become QuickFish Poke Bar in late summer or early fall).

Located upstairs next to Bamboo sushi, the street-food inspired station is filled with pieces that Symensma collected while traveling across Asia — from a mortar and pestle from Bankok, to the bamboo baskets used to carry goods in many parts of east Asia.

Right by the bar and patio with one of the best views of Denver, Kaya Kitchen will be a great spot for happy hour — and some of the menu item’s prices are reduced during this time — 2 though 6 p.m. every day and all day Sunday.

The Food

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If you’re a fan of Cho77, you may see some similarities at Kaya Kitchen. Chef Ryan Gorby, who heads the South Broadway joint, is behind the dynamic menu at Kaya. Like Cho77, Kaya Kitchen is focused on street-style food with modern interpretations and traditionally-inspired Asian dishes. From fan-favorites like pho and banh mi, to more out-of-the-box options like the Kaya Toast, it’s the perfect spot for those looking to expand their Asian palate. You can even order his BBQ Roast Pork Banh Mi  “French-Dip Style” with a mini Pho for dunking ($16).

The pho ($14) is worth ordering on its own, though. With brisket, meatballs, tendon, rice noodles and all the fresh side garnishes you could desire, this pho is comforting, flavorful and pairs perfectly with Avanti’s house beer — Ratio Beerworks’ Domestica.

The Kaya Toast is Symensma’s favorite. It’s a crispy griddled toast with Singaporean Coconut Jam ($9) in the center, dipped in poached eggs mixed with soy sauce. It’s an interesting combo for sure, but a welcome set outside of the comfort zone if you’re looking to try some truly traditional Singapore cuisine.

If you like to pair dishes from multiple places in Avanti as much as we do, try the Cambodian Corn on the Cob ($8) with sriracha cream and lime or the Thai Green Papaya Salad ($10) with tomatoes, peanut, sprouts and a spicy tamarind dressing. It’s one of those salads that boasts a different flavor in every crunchy bite — especially when you stumble upon bits of candied ginger.

When crafting the menu, Symensma and Gorby were careful to choose items that would fill a gap that Avanti was missing. Symensma explained he studied the other Avanti concepts’ menus to craft an offering that was totally different from its six counterparts.

For example, when he realized that no other Avanti spot served wings, they became an immediate addition. The Crispy Chicken Wings ($12) are an award winning favorite from Cho77 and served with a Vietnamese caramel sauce and scallions.

“Our guests have been asking for dishes like pho and banh mi since our opening almost two years ago, we’re excited to have Kaya Kitchen onboard to continue to be able to offer our guests elevated cuisine at affordable prices,” said Patrick O’Neill, co-founder of Avanti.

“It’s great to see an established restaurateur like Lon utilize our platform to test out a new concept. Avanti will allow the ChoLon Restaurant Concepts group to perfect their menu and branding so they can successfully expand in the years ahead.”

Kaya Kitchen is located on Avanti’s second floor at 3200 North Pecos Street, Denver. It will be open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday

Unless noted, all photos by Alexandra Palmerton.