Star Kitchen, Denver

Star Kitchen
2917 W. Mississippi Ave.
Denver, CO 80219

For my birthday on Friday I wanted to go treat myself to one of my favorite Chinese meals: Dim Sum. I decided to go to Star Kitchen instead of my favorite Cantonese place in Denver, JJ Chinese Restaurant, because it was highly recommended and I had not eaten their Dim Sum yet.

When I entered the restaurant, I was promptly greeted and seated. Given that there were a couple of other parties that came in at the same time, it understandably took a couple minutes to get my ice water, tea order, and check placard. After that was ironed out, the carts started rolling.

The first cart that came to me was the cart serving congee, curry fish balls, and beef tripe. As I loved stewed beef tripe, I ordered a small bowl of those. Next came the steam dumpling cart, where I took a basket of Siu Mai (pork dumplings wrapped in wonton wrappers) and pork spare ribs. The fried items cart then rolled around where I took a small plate of fried daikon cakes. A few minutes later I noticed that the cart received several plates of just cooked Chinese broccoli, which I chased down to get because I love Chinese broccoli.

The beef tripe was good. The tripe was cooked well enough to be chewy, but not overly so. The flavor was also nice and the daikons they put in were well cooked. I consider how a restaurant cooks daikon a measure of good the kitchen is because if it’s not cooked enough, the outside is tough and gristly. If cooked too much, it’s mushy. Star Kitchen got it just right. The pork spare ribs and fried daikon cakes were good too. Unfortunately, the siu mai was blander than I had hoped (and certainly not as good as Super Star Asian). The worst, however, was the plate of Chinese broccoli. The stems were quite tough and they did not cut it to make the stems more easily chewable and digestible. The oyster sauce was also served as a dipping sauce on the side when it is generally served drizzled on top right after the vegetables have been blanched. Given that it was the most expensive dish of all – at $6.95 – I would expect the Chinese broccoli to be much better.

StarKitchen2

For dessert I got mango pudding, which took forever to get to me because not one, but two, waitresses had forgotten it. That was, however, only the beginning of the service problems I had for the end of my meal. It took at least 10 minutes to refill my teapot with hot water and the owner had to actually shout to the waitress in Cantonese to look behind her and grab my teapot (Generally at a Cantonese restaurant, you lift the lid of the teapot, which indicates the need for more hot water. Typically waiters catch it very fast). When I decided to get the bill and box up my leftovers, the waitress had forgotten my boxes and the cashier had forgotten my check. Needless to say, I spent a good 20-30 minutes of unnecessary time at the restaurant due to poor service. While I understand the restaurant was busy, I have seen Dim Sum parlors in California five times as big and three times as busy that has no problems refilling my tea, getting dessert, and giving me the check in a timely fashion.

Needless to say, while Star Kitchen had decent food for the most part that would rival any Cantonese place serving Dim Sum in Denver, the experience was quite a disappointment. Even though Dim Sum isn’t there specialty, I could have gotten better items for a cheaper price and with better service at JJ. Instead of celebrating wonderful Dim Sum on my birthday in Denver, I was longing to eat better Dim Sum with friends in LA or San Francisco.

I’m hoping it was just an off day at Star Kitchen, given the number of positive reviews before, and I am willing to give it another shot. However, based on this experience there is no need for a Denverite to drive out to Mississippi and Federal when Super Star Asian and JJ will give them slightly better food with better service at a more convenient location.

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