Denver, CO

Drop it like it's Hot(pot) at D Station Restaurant.

Mile High and Hungry

The highly-publicized restaurants of Denver often reside right by Union Station or in the suburbs on Pearl street. Instead, DU students can rejoice to know that solely a block or two from campus, they can relive their thrilling experiences studying abroad with the Asian fusion being served on Evans. D Station harbors a fun environment that encourages friends and family to come together over their ability to play with their food.

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Inside D Station.Photo by Adam You.

D Station focuses on hot pot cooking, which can pretty much be explained by the name itself. Originally developed in China, a pot of simmering stock is heated over a burner within the table to allow those hovering around it to cook their meal before their own eyes. They building flavor profiles in their stocks with bones and vegetables that steep for hours in large pots–an integral piece–in the back of the kitchen ensuring every ounce of flavor is extracted. If you think that the stocks were made that day, you’re wrong. Seasoning, richness and depth take time, which is delivered here. They rotate their bases, so be prepared for a unique experience if you ask for the special of the day, because it’s here this time but gone the next.

Chinese cuisine loves a good kick, which my Mexican background can resonate with because I grew up on comida picante (spicy food). Therefore, there was no hesitation to try one hot pot that got that name from both temperature and spice level. The deep red broth arrived at the table with flecks of chiles swimming freely. It looked like yin and yang when the other pot of pork bone broth arrived by its side. Rather than spice, murky pale pork broth appeared similar to miso soup but comprised of meaty saltiness that has a range of flavors far beyond supermarket miso soup.

The magic begins once you regain consciousness after being mesmerized by the bowls of flavor simmering away in front of you. With the broth comes a shaved protein of choice which makes cooking a breeze; obviously it depends on what you’re cooking, but just a quick dip in the pool or a long-lasting soak can inject tons of flavor into that one piece of meat. But that’s not near the end of the party: it’s like Burger King because you can have it your way.

They have a buffet to choose from fresh produce that rotates daily. It’s composed of everything from American classics like broccoli and button mushrooms to the unique Asian staples like bok choy, enoki, and wood ear mushrooms. Each is a delight in its own right and capable of sopping up the broth like rustic bread absorbing olive oil at an Italian restaurant.

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Array of vegetables to add to broth.Photo by Adam You.

Now let the seafood fiends rejoice in the unlimited options available. The head-on shrimp should be cordially invited to the feast because staying intact through the cooking process allows for their sweetness to mix with the broth for an intense shrimp flavor that notoriously gets lost in the sad shrimp cocktail. Crawfish are always in season and the squid tentacles are waving you down as we speak. This experience allows for the adventurous eaters to test their bounds while also accommodating those that usually stick to scanning the children’s menu before ordering.

No meal would be sufficient without hitting all the food groups, and that is where the noodles come into play. Religious ramen eaters can get their fix and continue to live the college dream. Everyone knows that the key to perfect ramen is the soft boiled egg, and while it may take some research to time it just right, the perfect soft boiled egg can be achieved by grabbing one of the eggs of the buffet bar and giving it a nice bath in the hot pot. Additionally, if you’re interested in tapping into your Italian roots, the udon noodles remind me of a thicker bucatini that absorbs spices beautifully.

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Thinly shaved beef cooks in second when submerged in hot pot broth.Photo by Haley Paez.

At this point, you have gotten the hang of this style of cooking, and culinary school might start to seem more and more enticing, it’s time to continue building flavor, which comes at the sauce bar. They have a whiteboard with their versions of flavor bombs sure to intensify your meal, but again, the fun is experimenting. Be your own mad scientist and concoct your new favorite flavor combination. Sure it might end up like the jelly belly bean boozled game, where it looks like tutti-frutti but takes like stinky stocks, but this allows for your creativity to surface along with your iron chef abilities. Show your family and friends that you’re the next Bobby Flay.

For only 20 dollars this is basically an all-you-can-eat experience, so bring your sweat pants and some hungry pals because you’ll be eating well. No dinner is complete without a bit of sugar to top it off, so get rolling with their rolled ice cream ladled with chocolate sauce.

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Haley Paez is the face behind Mile High and Hungry. It began as a food Instagram with the intent of showcasing all that the Denver food industry had to offer with the snap of a camera and the post of a picture. It has since grown into a blog, TikTok, Facebook, podcast, and other multimedia outlets for understanding and trying the food coming from Denverites and beyond. This writing seeks to be an outlet for discovering restaurant and food businesses in a new light and highlighting all the fun, crazy, delicious offerings from one of the countries newest food hubs. It's an easy way to learn about the people and their stories that have been able to bring so many joyous moments to the city of Denver. Come along and make sure you're hungry cause we have a lot of eating to do!

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