Scanning the menu at Cho77, it’s easy to slip right past the crunchy tofu balls. The appetizer’s name might not do much to grab you—but order it anyway.
What arrives is a bowl of citrusy mustard for dipping and four sputniks covered in what look like matcha-green Rice Krispies. The rice flakes, in fact, are colored with tropical-tasting Asian pandan leaves. Executive chef and co-owner Ryan Gorby tints the rice for more than flavor: This dish is his ode to the green rice harvested in Lang Vong, a farming village outside of Hanoi, Vietnam.
The annual harvest of the young sticky (or glutinous) rice is very small and very special. Every autumn, the seeds are plucked from the rice stalks when they are green and sweet. After a lengthy process of toasting and then carefully pounding the rice, each grain is to be chewed slowly and cherished. Because the time-honored process surrounding the harvest is laborious, Gorby says it’s largely a dying art.
With this in mind, savor each bite of Cho77’s crunchy rice as it melds into the custardy tofu. Try it with the mustard sauce and try it without, but do so considering the story behind the dish.
42 S. Broadway, 720-638-8179