Meta Asian Kitchen Transforms into MAKfam

BY Steph Wilson

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MAKfam is here to redefine the limitations of Asian fare in Denver. The just-opened restaurant is the brainchild of the husband-and-wife team Chef Kenneth Wan and Doris Yuen, who’ve transitioned their fan-favorite META Asian Kitchen in Avanti to lay down brick-and-mortar roots two years in the making on 39 West 1st Avenue (just off Broadway next to Snooze).

Think of the new off-Broadway eatery as a hip underground supper club. Every dish tells a spicy story. MAKfam unpacks a menu peppered with heritage and dusted with innovation. Chef Ken’s commitment to authentic Wok Hei means every stir-fried noodle and rice dish gets a hit of that unmistakable breath of the wok. “Opening our brick and mortar is the next evolution of our culinary journey and MAKfam is a return to our roots, showcasing more Cantonese fare and the Chinese food we grew up eating,” says MAKfam Chef Ken. “We have been dialing in our recipes, making sure it’s done correctly but with our own mark on it. For us, success is not only that our food tastes good but that it triggers a memory or positive feeling from the past.” 

He is meeting that goal is “to redefine the limitations of Asian fare” with contemporary dishes like the málà mozzarella sticks and Spicy garlic butter rice cakes, while also paying homage to their traditional roots with classics like chicken congee, wonton soups, and beef stir-fry noodles. There’s Hong Kong-style french toast that’s an insurgent against the ordinary, dumplings with a lineage traceable to clandestine Chinatown family recipes, and stir-fry dishes like Spicy Garlic Butter Rice Cakes—it’s familiar with a twist. Better than the original. Addicting, even. Every dish we tried at a media preview night before the soft opening in late October has been on my mind ever since, and I’m already plotting my return.

“Our hope in opening MAKfam was always to create a dining experience that felt like we were welcoming friends and families into our home,” says Yuen, co-founder of MAKfam. “We were incredibly intentional about incorporating elements like the deep green (lucky) color scheme, artwork from Asian American artists, and even showing Kung Fu movies behind the bar. All of these elements reflect parts of our cultural background and upbringing. For us, MAKfam is truly a love letter to ABCs (American Born Chinese) and the greater AAPI community.”

As for the bar at MAKfam, it’s a curated library of Asia’s best sips. Here, the MSGin isn’t a kitchen staple but a headlining act. Beers brewed by Asian-led labels, cocktails that thread Eastern ingredients through Western classics—consider the Red Bean Orgeat Mai Tai, a tiki touch with a twist, or the Hong Kong Iced Tea, a stiff pour that swaps out the Long Island standard for something a little more East meets West. These aren’t just twists on classics; they’re remixes that outshine the originals—with Grid-worthy presentation and delivery to boot. 

Chef Kenneth Wan and Doris Yuen first got their start through a series of street market-style pop-ups in Jersey City and Queens before opening in Denver’s Avanti Food and Beverage in 2019 as Meta Asian Kitchen. At MAKfam, Doris has channeled her Hong Kong roots into every design element, from the art to the deep green hues, crafting an ambiance that’s a wink to their heritage with a vibe that’s all about community. Old-school Cantonese glamour meets street-style cool in the 1670-square-foot space outfitted in shades of deep green and gold, with artful touches and a black-and-white photo of grandma wearing a badass beanie to boot. Think neon-lit Hong Kong noodle parlors crash a New York fashion week after-party in Denver. 

In the future, MAKfam hopes to have a brunch program, dim-sum cart service for special occasions like Lunar New Year, and limited menu items like Cantonese-style Lobster, and more. In the meantime, the new hotspot is officially open to the public. You should definitely check it out this when viviting Denver.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Steph Wilson

Steph Wilson is a writer, editor, and creative maximalist in Denver. She makes magazines for a living and throws color around the world like confetti for fun.

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