1492 Chocolates, Dami Korean, Bamboo Court 


click to enlarge 1492 Chocolates

1492 Chocolates

174 Washington St., Monument, 855/700-1492, 1492chocolates.com

The concept is fun: a quality-ingredient truffle ($1.95 each) or chocolate bar ($6.50 to $8.50) for every U.S. state, built around flavors for which each is known. Some from the series-in-progress feature elegant, two-note simplicity, from New Mexico's spicy dark chocolate Hatch chili to Vermont's maple caramel and Arkansas' hickory smoked bacon dark chocolate — all bearing strong flavors of the featured ingredients. Other truffles thematically pack it in, like Colorado's trail-mix tribute of cranberries, walnuts and apricots formed into milk chocolate topped with whole oats and sunflower seeds — enjoyable, but the garnish overwhelms a bit.

The Kentucky, meant to be a Mint Julep salute, lacks enough bourbon backbone to nail the cocktail, but is enjoyable otherwise with caramel and mint leaves infusing Kermit-colored mint chocolate. All states should hit bar form before 1492 turns a year old in October, and truffle form by year's end. — Matthew Schniper

click to enlarge Dami Korean Restaurant

Dami Korean Restaurant

1683 Jet Wing Drive, 596-2580

Glass noodles are cool, and a pile of them mixed with stir-fried vegetables and beef is not only cool, but named something cool: japchae ($8.99), which we ate at this corner restaurant on the southeast side. African violets peppered the square, bright room, where mismatched tables were full of people speaking languages I understood and languages I didn't, all to the tune of one of Bach's Brandenburg concertos.

As enticing as the translucent pile of chewy noodles looked, its fingerlings of beef and crisp vegetables were even better. Elsewhere, a box of tender, marinated short-ribs, called galbi ($10.99), were covered in an insanely delicious, sticky-sweet sauce I logically called mouth crack, as I sucked the round center bones clean and burned my mouth in the process. Pickled bean sprouts, cucumber rounds and strands of radish cut right through all the richness on both plates. — Bryce Crawford

click to enlarge Bamboo Court

Bamboo Court

4935 Centennial Blvd., 599-7383, bamboocourtcoloradosprings.com

I'm about 25 years late to the party, since until recently I had never heard of Bamboo Court, which opened in 1989. For those in a similar boat, it turns out to be a small, beautiful restaurant decked out in the bas-relief carvings and polished dark woods you would expect. More important is this: Bamboo Court's hot-and-sour soup is not a thick, gloppy, cornstarch-torched mess. Instead, the lovely little bowl is light, laced through with bamboo shoots, mushrooms and the like. A crystal clear won-ton soup was equally restrained (and delicious), and both came with the daily lunch specials ($7.35).

We went with the mango chicken and pork chow fun. The former gifted ripe mango in syrup into a simple, exotic kick with the addition of whole basil leaves. (If the plain chicken were char-grilled, this dish would be insane.) The latter, on the other hand, offered mushy vegetables with mushy meat. — Bryce Crawford

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