When most Americans think of Vietnamese food the most popular dishes that come to mind are pho and banh mi. Those are great dishes but to Long Nguyen and Quyen Trinh – husband and wife duo and owners of Anise Modern Vietnamese Eatery – they are very basic and quite overdone here in the US. “Vietnamese food is so much more than that,” stated Nguyen, “our goal is to introduce people to authentic Vietnamese food,” he said.
The couple is from Vietnam and introduces guests to the type of food they grew up eating and cooking in their own home with Trinh as the executive chef. She grew up working in the food service industry in Saigon then trained at Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts in Boulder after moving to the US. While studying she overcame the hurdles of not only being a female in the industry but someone who’s just migrated to America as well.
“Many of the educators were Europeans so it was hard for me – already having a weak command of the English language – to understand English with European accents” said Trinh, which often led her to be overlooked by many of the chefs. “Once I showed them I can cook well they started to respect me,” she explained. While studying she learned American techniques and how to merge them with the Vietnamese techniques she grew up practicing. After working at several restaurants around Denver – including Cholon, Cherry Hills Country Club and Olive and Finch – she decided that she wanted to open her own restaurant to pursue her passion, her way. “When I create the menu I cook from my heart, I don’t think about pleasing people with popularity,” stated Trinh. She knows that if she does this, everything else will fall into place.
Anise has been open for about six months in the Golden Triangle area of Denver and already has many regular guests that love the authenticity of the food and hospitality of Nguyen and Trinh. You’ll likely find Nguyen taking orders, serving food or bartending while Trinh cooks and creates in the kitchen. Photographs of Vietnam– taken by Nguyen – adorn the walls and prove that the couple is extremely passionate about their home country and bringing an authentic experience to guests.
Anise’s menu is fairly short and easy to navigate – which makes it great for first timers. You’ll find appetizers like crispy pork rolls and vegan spring rolls along with a couple of salads, soups and noodle dishes and three types of pho – beef, chicken and vegan. You’ll see that the most authentic – and the best, according to Nguyen – items are bolded. These are items you likely won’t find on many other menus like the house original Anise beef rolls ($8.95), shrimp cakes ($8.95) and Lavong style fish ($19.95).
“We invented the beef roll. You won’t find it on other Vietnamese menus,” said Nguyen – typical Vietnamese restaurants use pork, shrimp or vegetables in rolls. Anise also makes it easy to find the vegan and gluten-free items on the menu which include items like crispy tofu ($6.95), the Anise vegan special ($19.95) and tofu lemongrass noodles ($14.95).
Whatever your opinion of Vietnamese food is, Anise is worth checking out. Is authentic dishes, amazing hospitality, spacious dining room and full bar make it the perfect place for taking a date or watching a game with friends.
Anise is located at 865 N Lincoln St., Denver. Open Sunday – Thursday 11 a.m.- 2 p.m. and 5- 9 p.m. and Friday – Saturday 11 a.m.- 2 p.m. and 5- 10 p.m.
All photography by Adrienne Thomas.
Correction: this article has been updated to correct the last name of Long from Trinh to Nguyen.