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INg the Know

Paul E. Anna

Sushi is easier to get in Aspen than a deal on powder skis in April.With the venerable Takah, the always-hot Kenichi and the uber-urban Matsuhisa, this is a town that has more raw fish per capita than perhaps any other place in America located 1,000 miles from seashore. And that’s a good thing, because raw fish, sunomono salads, piles of ginger and wasabi fit right in with the healthy way in which many Aspenites live their lives. We are Omega-3 kind of people.But, let’s face it. The three emporiums can be a scene at times. A little too social for some. And, as the price of rent and the popularity of the restaurants have increased over the years, they have all become a little spendy.Ah, but there is an alternative. One that features a famed sushi chef who has a longtime local pedigree. One that serves the freshest of fish, organic salads and soups that will heal what ails you. A place that is as comfortable as your kitchen table.What? You don’t know about it? Then you either haven’t been paying attention, or you haven’t headed out to the Aspen Business Center after 5 p.m. in a while.iNG Cuisine is the place, and it does business at the lunch counter in the Mountain Naturals organic-food store right behind the carwash in the ABC. The brainchild of Henry Ng and his wife Amy, the counter morphs into an outstanding eat-in or takeout restaurant Monday through Friday nights at 5 p.m. and stays open until the last customer gets his or her fill.Ng, as many may know, has been a part of the Aspen restaurant scene since the ’70s, when he ran the kitchen at Arthur’s on Main, a veritable institution that was packed nightly. Following stints at a couple of other Chinese-themed places (remember Eastern Winds?), he went to work for Nobu at Matsuhisa, helping to establish that upscale fish house.Now, he and Amy work for themselves. She manages the phones and the counter while he is back in the kitchen rolling up Negihama and Soft Shell Crab rolls, or thinly slicing Tuna Takaki sashimi and lovingly drizzling Ponzu Garlic sauce across the top.The place feels like a Hawaiian general store with backless barstools at the counter and the rest of the restaurant actually doubling as the health-food store. A solid collection of locals, North 40 residents and ABC professionals stream in and out, picking up bags of their to-go dinners for the family as the telephone jingle-jangles with call-in orders. With the possible exception of Johnny McGuire’s, it may be the most unpretentious place to eat in town. If you need a sushi fix and casual, comfortable and affordable are the watch words for the evening, stop by iNG Cuisine.


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