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Kaya Kitchen, Lon Symensma’s Break into Fast-Casual, Debuts Wednesday

Avanti’s latest addition brings southeast Asian street food, taking over the former Souk Shawarma stall

Gigi Sukin

LoHi’s lively dining collective, Avanti Food & Beverage will see the launch of Kaya Kitchen, a fast-casual counter service featuring traditional preparations and fresh interpretations of Vietnamese, Thai and Cambodian street food, Wednesday, July 26.

This is Chef/Restaurateur Lon Symensma’s fourth Denver restaurant and second opening this year, following Stapleton’s Concourse. His entree onto the local culinary scene brought downtown Denver ChoLon Modern Asian Bistro in 2010, inspired by a year’s worth of travel throughout China and the southeastern region of Asia in 2003.

Named for the savory-sweet toast served in street stalls and cafes of Singapore, adaptations of Kaya toast are present at both ChoLon and the new quick-serve eatery. Kaya Kitchen’s version is prepared in traditional fashion with a duo of poached eggs, white pepper and a packet of soy sauce alongside a stack of warm, golden bread and coconut jam.

Symensma says he met Avanti’s owners Rob Hahn and Tony DiLucia roughly five years ago when the address was still home to an active printing press. He revisited the conversation of collaborating only a few months ago, upon learning that Souk Shawarma’s lease was coming to a close at the multi-tenant food hall.

Kaya’s menu, co-constructed by Symensma and Cho77’s Ryan Gorby – offers a quick and aggressively flavorful series of bites. Highlights include the pork dumplings, BBQ roast pork banh mi sandwich, hearty pho with rice noodles, brisket, meatballs and tendon, and a colorful, gluten-free noodle Saigon bowl that includes pickled produce – presently watermelon rind – herbs and traditional vinaigrette. The deep fried chicken wings are dunked into a sticky Vietnamese caramel sauce. Seasonal dishes include the green papaya salad and Cambodian-style Olathe corn, brined, scorched and smeared with Sriracha cream, and topped with tempura crunch, cilantro and fresh lime. Kaya will also serve a breakfast version of the banh mi with Chinese sausage, as a part of Avanti’s new weekend brunch program.

Kaya joins the ranks of six other culinary concepts in Avanti, presently including American Grind, Chow Morso and The RegionalQuiero Arepas and Brava!, from the original class, launched nearly two years ago – and Bamboo Sushi which will be replaced by QuickFish Poke Bar later this year.

Though he divulged little detail, Symensma says there are more ideas gaining momentum for his expanding restaurant portfolio. He hopes this will be the first of many Kaya Kitchens – not to be confused with the L.A.-based chain bearing a similar name.

Kaya Kitchen will open for lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., starting with brunch, Thursday through Saturday.

Quiero Arepas

, Denver, CO 80204 (720) 432-4205 Visit Website

Cho77

42 South Broadway, , CO 80209 (720) 638-8179 Visit Website

ChoLon

1555 Blake Street, , CO 80202 (303) 353-5223 Visit Website

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