Ace Eat Serve Debuts Brunch Dim Sum Cart and Asian Food Week Specials

Dim Sum Cart

Since chef Thach Tran took the reigns at Uptown’s pan-Asian cuisine and ping pong emporium Ace Eat Serve, the restaurant has become one of the city’s truly great locations for zesty chicken wings, regional noodles, technique-forward plays on Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese classics and now, dim sum.

Tran grew up in Saigon, Vietnam, where he developed an early interest in all things culinary while watching his grandmother cook at one of her two food stands — one a pho joint, the other a rice noodle spot. He moved to Colorado in 1999 and grew up living and eating in East Aurora and Green Valley Ranch. “The community I lived in really inspires the way I cook,” said the chef, noting that the abundant Korean restaurants and Chinese grocery stores on the eastside helped him develop his wide-leaning palate.

READ: Ace Eat Serve’s New Chef Aces the New Menu

As an adult, he refined his approach while attending Johnson and Wales downtown. He followed with a five-year stint at ChoLon, before acting as culinary director for the Law brothers restaurants, which included three Platform T locations and Uncle Joe’s Hong Kong Bistro at the time. In late 2017, Ace recruited him. In the six years that followed, Tran has maintained Ace’s menu as a dynamic expression, continually introducing an array of fresh menu items purposefully suited to the city’s evolving tastes.

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In April, Ace introduced brunch, a lavish spread of dumplings, sandwiches, rice dishes, sweets and classic cocktails interspersed with Eastern ingredients like kimchi, Thai basil and Vietnamese coffee. “We saw the opportunity to use the extra daytime,” smiled Tran. Dishes like the soft-shell crab banh mi ($18) — which has tempura crab, daikon pickles, cucumber, cilantro and sweet chili garlic aioli atop a house-made black sesame bun — provide a good example of the chef’s knack for both big flavors and eye-catching arrangements. Pastry chef Michael Kurowski — who also does the desserts for neighboring Steuben’s Uptown — has a notable presence on the menu. The giant ube cinnamon roll skillet ($10)— a hulking purple play on the classic confection topped with sweetened condensed milk and cream cheese icing — is essential.

About a month ago, the restaurant added a dim sum cart that roams the restaurant serving classic savory items like baked barbecue pork buns and sesame balls alongside sweeter fare like coconut buns. “I personally love the Empress and Star Kitchen,” said Tran, noting that he’s excited to bring the style to Uptown. Cart items differ from an even more formidable list of kitchen orders, which includes one of the best plates of xiao long bao in the game.

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From Wednesday, February 22, through Sunday, February 26, Ace will serve three special items as part of the inaugural Mile High Asian Food Week. The five-day event — presented by Asian Avenue Magazine and created by Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) food and beverage industry members — sees restaurants and food trucks from across the metro area serving secret items and specialty menus to celebrate the region’s burgeoning AAPI food scene. Participating restaurants include Glo Noodle House, Osaka Ramen, Urban Village Grill, Mukja, Manila Bay and Yuan Wonton, amongst others. Ace’s secret menu will include the Vietnamese shrimp salad roll ($12) — with rice noodles, herbs of Saigon, coconut adobo and house pickles — and the Pho-Rench dip ($17), which comes stacked with shaved prime rib roast, pho jus, lime aioli, Thai basil, hoisin and thinly-sliced jalapeños. For dessert, it will offer the Hot n’ Cold ($6), which combines house-made double vanilla bean ice cream, crispy chili oil and Chinese-style almond cookies.

This April, Ace will overhaul both brunch and dinner menus, each seeing between four to six new items. Tran promises that the new morning menu will be more cart-focused, with the Pho-Rench dip making a semi-permanent stop among the dinner options.

Ace Eat Serve is located at 501 East 17th Ave., Denver. It is open Monday – Thursday from 4 – 10 p.m., Friday from 4 – 11 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. – 11 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Brunch is served Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Additional information on Mile High Asian Food Week can be found here.

All photography by Alden Bonecutter unless otherwise stated.

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