Pop-ups to preview a restaurant, pop-ups to test out or travel with a restaurant, and pop-ups in place of a restaurant. There are plenty of pop-ups in Denver at the moment, and one in particular that diners can actually frequent (for a few months) and then move on to the next hot new concept.
At Zeppelin Station, one of eight food stalls is reserved for a monthly or quarterly changing pop-up. Comal first took up residence at this rotating stall, called No Vacancy, when the hall opened in March. Now Gaijin will replace it for the next round, starting May 9. It will bring a ramen and yakitori destination to Zeppelin’s existing global offerings.
Chef Bill Espiricueta already serves Korean fried chicken and beef bulgogi from Injoi, next door at Zeppelin. At the new temporary Gaijin, he’ll also offer three different ramen bowls and skewered meats — or yakitori — prepared over Japanese binchotan charcoals. Before debuting Injoi and Gaijin, Espiricueta cooked at the wood-fired Oak in Boulder and Acorn at The Source. He also trained in Japanese cooking at Nobu.
In the case of Gaijin, which is Japanese for “foreigner,” Espiricueta hits on a few of the aforementioned pop-up purposes. For fans and eaters, it mostly will be a chance for another taste of the chef’s cooking ahead of his really big opening; Smōk is slated to land this summer inside the finished Source Hotel and market hall. So for the next three months, diners can descend on and even obsess over this new ramen shop. And then just when it verges on old news, they can start saying, “You know who made great ramen... .”