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It may not be the sexiest of vegetables, but cabbage can transform a dish—whether it’s the center of attention or just a finishing touch. Taste for yourself how these four restaurants expertly use the leafy plant to add punch to their menus.
Uncle’s house-made kimchi—the pungent, healthy, cabbage-based Korean staple—delivers the bitter counterpunch rich ramen soup demands. A week of fermenting Napa cabbage, scallions, and carrots coated in salt, sugar, and Uncle’s kimchi paste transforms the humble veggie into a deliciously funky condiment. The kimchi is added to broth with wheat noodles, shredded pork shoulder, and slow-poached egg. Raw cabbage, sprinkled on top, gives the meal a fresh, crunchy finish. 2215 W. 32nd St., 303-433-3263, uncledenver.tumblr.com
The main attraction of Masterpiece Delicatessen’s seared ahi tuna sandwich may be the spicy togarashi-rubbed fish, but it’s the sweet Asian slaw that ties it all together. Prepared by cold pickling cabbage and carrots in rice wine vinegar, sugar, and salt, the crunchy salad offsets the tuna’s spiciness and the sharpness of the wasabi aïoli—resulting in a lovely balance of flavors tucked into a toasted English muffin. 1575 Central St., 303-561-3354; 1710 Sherman St., 303-832-5555, masterpiecedeli.com
Belvedere’s cozy dining room emulates a classic European cafe, and the restaurant’s golabki, or stuffed cabbage rolls, are no less authentic. This age-old comfort food is prepared by boiling green cabbage leaves in salt water and folding them snugly around a filling of rice, ground pork, sautéed onions, and black pepper. After baking, the rolls are topped with a traditional paprika tomato sauce and served with roasted potatoes for a complete, hearty Polish meal. 323 24th St., 720-974-4052, belvederedowntown.com
It’s easy to overlook Continental Deli’s pickled red cabbage salad amid the high-quality meats, German pastries, and shelves lined with European delicacies. But that would be a mistake. A unique take on the traditional Eastern European dish, Continental’s salad is made by stewing pickled red cabbage with bay leaves, lemon juice, brown sugar, and white vinegar. Try adding the cabbage to a toasted club sandwich for an accompaniment that’s both sweet and tangy. 250 Steele St., 303-388-3354, continentalsausage.com/deli.shtml
—Image by Tessa Trager/Trunk Archive