When you think of cities with great sushi, you probably think of places on the West Coast – Seattle, San Francisco, LA, and so on. You probably don’t think of Denver. However, despite standing some 1000 miles from the nearest ocean, our fair city is home to some not-bad-at-all sushi. I don’t know all the places in town, but I can say for sure that there’s at least one pretty good spot and one outstanding place to get your wasabi on.
First, the very good. Japon is located in the way cool South Gaylord neighborhood at 1028 S. Gaylord St. Not only is the fish very good, the atmosphere is relaxed and upbeat. My favorite thing about Japon, oddly enough, is the soy sauce, which is hands-down the best I’ve ever had anywhere, period. I was told that it’s a top-secret family recipe (I never knew there was that much nuance to soy sauce recipes, honestly). I think you could dip cardboard in it and come away with a tasty treat. This doesn’t mean it’s all about the soy sauce, though – the fish is fresh and high quality, well-prepared by experienced sushi chefs. If you’re staying up toward Boulder, you can find the same experience at their sister restaurant, Japango, which is located on the Pearl St. Mall between 11th and 12th.
Now, the outstanding: Sushi Den. Put simply, the fish is some of the freshest in the US because it’s flown in from Japan daily. (For the whole story, click here. Short version: the owner’s brother buys fresh from the market in Fukuoka every morning and puts it on an airplane for Denver.)
Not only is the fish far fresher than you’d ever dream, but the connection also results in Sushi Den serving some varieties you can’t find elsewhere. One of my favorites, for instance, is Amberjack. Most places I’ve been I’ll ask about it and get a blank stare, even from apparently experienced chefs. But they have it fairly regularly at Sushi Den.
The place is also trendy as hell (its 1487 S. Pearl address is about as hip as the S. Gaylord neighborhood, in fact) and gets full in a hurry, so plan ahead (they take reservations Sunday-Thursday). It’s worth an hour wait, though – Sushi Den is on a par with the finer places even on the West Coast and it’s far better than anyplace I’ve been this side of California.
UPDATE: We originally profiled Mori, a long-time LoDo favorite. Our friend Kelly (aka Beerkitty) now informs us that the place is closed, probably for good. Bummer.