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Thursday, March 6,2014

A Cup of Peace offers asylum for the west side

By Josh Gross
Susan France

A Cup of Peace doesn’t look like much from the outside. A plain storefront in an unglamorous lot on the side of the less-distinguished end of Arapahoe. The best thing it has going for it is a big vinyl sign advertising budget Korean lunch specials within like some sort of gas station cafe.

But like an Oreo cookie, that drab exterior contains creamy delights within. The space is full of nice tables sitting atop lovely hardwood floors. The soft yellow walls are bathed in natural light from large picture windows. Classical music sets the mood. It had the same overwhelmingly pleasant feel of a treelined patio in spring. Satisfying yet mysterious white cream filling accomplished.

The difference is that unlike an Oreo cookie, Cup of Peace is probably kind of good for you. I say probably because a large poster inside the door quacks out consultations to “heal your own organs” and “be your own doctor,” and the menu sings a similarly holistic tune, which means it could help turn things around on a dime after a life of mainlining Cheetos, or it could do nothing at all. Holism certainly accomplishes the do-no-harm portion of medical practice.

But that’s fine. Miracle organ repair or not, the ingredients and techniques in holistic cooking make for good eating and better general health, so as an avid diner, I say have at it.

The menu focuses on Korean cuisine made with lean, natural and gluten-free ingredients. There is also a wide selection of herbal teas and similar health drinks.

Though both the Korean Spicy Stew and the Korean Ban Sang, a sort of one-of-everything meal, caught my eye, I went for the “Dub Bob,” ($7.99) a Korean barbecue bowl with seven-grain rice and vegetables that also sounds like it could be an album of Marley remixes. With an egg added on top for 99 cents, it was delicious, with a nice balance between earthy flavors and Asian tang. It needed a bit of extra hot sauce to feel truly Korean, but that’s hardly an unwinnable struggle.

My dining companion, who had steered us into Cup of Peace “because tacos aren’t for breakfast” — a statement made at 1:30 p.m. — went for the order of Steam Rice Oat Meal ($4.50), which was delightfully light and frothy, served with your choice of whole, skim, almond or soy milks, choices that landed the dish about as far away from the term gruel as oatmeal is likely to travel. It was served with a ramekin of dried fruit and nuts on the side.

We both added a cup of miso soup for $1.

Probably the most interesting thing I had at Cup of Peace was the Multigrain Coffee Latte, a cup of coffee that leans in the direction of their health shakes, offerings that aim to be a meal in a glass. It was made with an earthy house mix of 20 different grains and nutrients that gave the coffee a richer, nuttier flavor and left nearly a half inch of tasty sediment in the bottom of my cup.

It was hard not to notice that noise from the open kitchen was present throughout the meal, as it is an interesting clash with the general theme of A Cup of Peace. But lunch was still an undeniably pleasant experience even with the bleeps and bloops of various kitchen gadgets bleep-blooping away in the background. It was undeniably peaceful. Then we had to go back out the front door, into the traffic, into the madness, into the gluten.

Don’t be fooled by the uninviting exterior. A Cup of Peace is a cozy respite from the mean streets west of 30th, and a bargain to boot.

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