When I first moved to this valley in 2011, I had yet to try many of the restaurant options, and every time I asked a local what place they would recommend for dinner, The Asian Palate in Buena Vista was always on the list of suggestions. Not even a week into my new abode, I made the quick trip north to BV to investigate the hype surrounding this sushi place and immediately added it to my list of favorites.
Sandoval’s approach to the art of sushi is unlike any other style I have experienced, and the other dishes he offers to “Palate-lovers” who frequent his establishment for more than just his finely mastered fish provide a true cultural escape. Sandoval spent many years working as a dishwasher and prep cook while attending school in Vermont. Later, while working at Rialto in Boston under award-winning chef Jody Adams, Sandoval’s dream of owning his own restaurant was born. After moving to Colorado, he spent years training as a sushi chef in Edwards and then took a sabbatical throughout Southeast Asia, a journey that continues to inspire his menus today.
“I was extremely moved by the food and the culture in Southeast Asia. I have always wanted to create food that celebrates the depth and simplicity of different Asian cuisines yet hold onto my culinary roots of French and Mediterranean techniques,” he said.
His vision was finally realized when he moved to Buena Vista and began introducing his culinary concept from the kitchen of good friend Barb Zuker’s Evergreen Café in the evenings. Almost 10 years later, friends who worked alongside him in the café kitchen can be found helping him shape his seasonal menus. Agnes Heller, who has a lifetime of cooking experience, and Seth Roberts, founder of Weathervane Farm, both contribute evolving techniques and local produce, respectively.
“The changing seasonal menu has given us an opportunity to explore different dishes that are appropriate for certain times of the year, as well as celebrate the produce we can receive from our beloved Weathervane Farm,” he said.
“This season’s menu feels more focused and refined than ever before. All the dishes will be exceptionally better with local produce, particularly a dish like Khao Soi, which has an assortment of beautiful leafy greens. We have also expanded our selection of exceptional wines that pair incredibly well with our food.”
Sandoval describes the restaurant’s atmosphere as a casual fellowship of food, art, music, family and community, and he hopes each guest feels as if they are entering his home when they walk through the doors.
“I love making food. I love creating a space where people can come and enjoy a meal and each other’s company,” said Sandoval. “I feel honored to be able to do this with people that I adore and learn from every day, and for people that are open minded, excited and gracious. I love that we are able to offer a service to this community, a place that feels more like home than anywhere I have ever lived.”