Biker Jim on where he'd eat if had only 24 hours in Denver
This is part two of our interview with Biker Jim, chef-owner of Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs. Read part one of the Biker Jim interview.
What you'd like to see more of in Denver/Boulder from a culinary standpoint: Some really good simple Italian restaurants with stuffed peppers, great marinara, fresh pasta -- you know, things like that. It's been so long since I've had that perfect plate of spaghetti with a big ol' meatball and maybe even a savory sausage link; I'm not even sure I've ever had one. I want that with some crusty garlic bread, a fresh salad with a bit of antipasto, and maybe a tiramisu that doesn't taste like it came out of a can -- a place where the waitress would sneak a cigarette in the walk-in with the cook who'd want to try to kill the guy who tried to pass a lamb shank off as osso buco. Where is this place?
What you'd like to see less of in Denver/Boulder from a culinary standpoint: Boba joints.
Favorite cheap eat in Denver/Boulder: Kokoro Bowl for fast, well-prepared meat, vegetables and rice. It's a nice bowl of tasty, healthful food on the cheap. I used to really like their green-tea cheesecake, and I've always wondered if they had a vending machine in the back that dispenses it.
If you only had 24 hours in Denver/Boulder, where would you eat? I'd start the day at the Original Pancake House, because it's the only place I know of around here that makes sourdough pancakes. Being an Alaskan kid, there are few things for breakfast I like better than sourdough pancakes, and even though these ain't quite the same as the ones I grew up on, they're still pretty damn fine. Lunch is a trip to ChoLon for soup dumplings and beef tartare. Holy crap, that stuff is good. Chef Lon puts so much attention and craft into his cooking, and I don't think there's anyone anywhere who can make a dish better than he. For dinner, it's either Root Down or Linger. Between Justin Cucci's brilliant attention to atmosphere, comfort, fun, and his staff and Daniel Asher's ability to make the most beautifully flavorful dishes, both places are outstanding. My wife is vegan, but me? Not so much. Still, we're both so well cared for and loved throughout our meals that our experiences at both restaurants have never been short of transformative.
Favorite restaurant in America: Sushi Shibucho. It's difficult to call this my favorite restaurant, since I've only been there once, but it kind of is. It's a small hole-in-the-wall sushi joint off of Beverly Boulevard in L.A., and there are like eight seats at the sushi bar and maybe five tables. One woman serves sake or tea, and then there's the old guy behind the bar, who's obviously been making sushi his entire life, since much of it's chronicled by pictures and newspaper clippings papering the walls of him and celebrities like Keith Richards, Michael Cena and Yo-Yo Ma. It's the kind of place where you just put yourself in his hands and he creates exactly what you want. It's just dish after dish of the most perfectly prepared fish and rice and nori and wasabi and gari and, well, you get the idea. And speaking of hands, this guy has knife skills that can only come from living a life behind a bar like this. The blade moves so fast that it's almost as if it isn't moving at all, yet an avocado spreads like a deck of playing cards. I can't think of anywhere I've ever been where you can witness the presence of such simple elegance and perfection of craft. Oh, yeah, bring a few bucks, 'cause...damn.