Vail Valley’s Asian melting pot |

Vail Valley’s Asian melting pot

Caramie Schnell'
Vail, CO Colorado
Dominique Taylor/Vail DailyVail Valley dining: Chef and part-owner Long Foong cooks up some spicy lemongrass chicken at his new Asian Spice Bistro Tuesday in Edwards

VAIL VALLEY, Colorado –In many Malaysian cities, food vendors called hawker stalls line the streets at night serving steaming hot noodle bowls, curries and other Asian dishes to hungry passersby. Each stand has a chef serving up a different specialty not just from Malaysia, but from a handful of Asian countries – Thailand, China, Vietnam and India to name a few. The country’s rich historical heritage is responsible for its exotic cuisine. It’s a literal melting pot of flavors and its that culinary diversity that inspired the owners of Edwards’ newest restaurant, Asian Spice Bistro.

“You can get all kinds of food there,” said restaurant manager/co-owner Kelly Yeap, referring to the Malaysian food vendors. “That’s what we wanted to mimic here. We chose all of the popular dishes and put them all together.”

Yeap and her husband, the restaurant’s head chef, Long Foong, most recently worked at May Palace for nearly three years. Before that, Yeap owned an Asian food restaurant in New Hampshire. The couple also ran an Asian restaurant in Asheville, N.C.

The couple’s business partners are Denver residents Yan Shan Zhou and her husband Nelson, who also worked for nearly six years at May Palace.

Like many Asian restaurants, the eatery, which opened this week in the former Matthew’s space in Edwards, has an extensive, seven-page menu.

Chef Foong worked 16 hour days this weekend, making upwards of 30 sauces from scratch to prepare for the restaurant’s soft opening Sunday evening.

“He came home so tired,” Yeap said.

While a few of the restaurant’s dishes – Kung Pao chicken, Mongolian beef, hot and sour soup and the like – are available at other Chinese restaurants in the valley, there are plenty of items you can’t find on any other local menus, like traditional Vietnamese pho ($10) with sliced beef, meatballs and rice noodles in beef broth garnished with sprouts, cilantro, basil and lime.

Edwards resident Krissy Snyder is looking forward to getting her pho fix a little easier, she said. There’s been at least half a dozen times she’s ordered the dish to-go from Vietnamese restaurants in Denver and driven it back for dinner for her and her boyfriend. Lately, she’s tried making it herself at home, though she calls her version “compromised.”

“You can’t even get all the ingredients for it up here, like star anise,” she said.

Dim sum is another impossible-to-find offering in Eagle County, but Asian Spice Bistro offers 18 items under the dim sum category, ranging from $4 to $9 each. Try the Roti Pratha ($4), warm and flaky Indian flatbread served with curry dipping sauce or the pork shumai ($6), steamed, open-faced dumplings popular on dim sum menus.

Under the Asian Favorites menu page, the beef rendang ($16) is a traditional Malay dish where the beef is simmered with coconut curry and served over steamed green beans. Right beneath it is crispy chiangmai beef ($16) served in a spicy Thai tamarind sauce with onions, celery and bell peppers. The dish, which is served in a delicate fried noodle nest, is spicy without making you sweat.

And while American comfort food has been trendy for the past few years, Asian Spice Bistro has what can only be called Asian comfort food: Penang Kuay Teow ($15). A steaming bowl of stir fried rice noodles, thick with shrimp, tender squid rings, onions, bean sprouts, egg and mushroom soy sauce is served atop green banana leaves. It’ll be just the dish to curl up with on a cold winter night.

High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 970-748-2984 or

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