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Denver's ten best sushi restaurants

A sushi chef at work at Taki Sushi in Washington Park.
A sushi chef at work at Taki Sushi in Washington Park.
Jim Wills

For obvious reasons, we don't make New Year's resolutions here at Cafe Society that involve cutting delicious morsels out of our diet. But since we used the holidays as an excuse to go on even more of a gastronomic bender than usual this year, we are thinking about switching our binge eating tendencies to lighter fare for a few days. Namely, sushi.

If you're on board with that sentiment -- and in want of a great spot -- we've compiled our favorite joints in Denver and its surrounding area that serve up raw fish. And we realized that, for a land-locked state, we've got quite a few sushi joints doing it right. Here are the ten best:

Denver's ten best sushi restaurants
Sushi Tora

10. Sushi Tora

This Boulder sushi joint set the standard for sushi in Boulder when it first swam onto the scene. Since then, the sunny spot just off the Pearl Street Mall has had its ups and downs, but after landing chef Ray Srisamer -- an alum of acclaimed Austin sushi spot Uchi -- Tora is definitely up. Srisamer brings in high quality fish and cuts it with exacting precision -- and while his menu includes old standbys and favorites, he's also incorporated some new, delightful twists.

Denver's ten best sushi restaurants
Jim Wills

9. Kassai Sushi

The dining room at this east Denver joint is not exactly opulent, but its richly appointed and colorful, and absolutely comfortable for a lingering meal over dozens of bite-sized bits of fish. And you'll want to linger, ordering round after round. Kassai serves up fresh cuts of what you'd expect as well as some surprises, plus well-crafted rolls and hand rolls, all beautifully displayed and humbly delivered.

Denver's ten best sushi restaurants
Jim Wills

8. Namiko's

Namiko's has held down its Arvada strip mall address for 21 years, and the small neighborhood joint -- aquatically decorated down to the glowing fish tank in the center of the dining room -- has only gotten better with age. Owner Yuri Chandonnet, a native of Sapporo, insists on top quality fish, and the sushi chefs turn slick slices of tuna, albacore, mackerel, scallops and numerous forms of fish roe into sashimi, nigiri and rolls.

Denver's ten best sushi restaurants
Jim Wills

7. Taki Sushi

This Washington Park spot doesn't look like much from the outside, where a sign bills it as Japanese fusion cuisine -- slightly off-putting when you're after good sushi. But don't let that deter you, because inside this small, neighborhood spot, the sushi chefs serve up stellar cuts of fish, handrolls brimming with things like spicy tuna and yellowtail with jalapeño, one of our favorite chirashi bowls in town and fresh specials shipped in that day, which are usually worth considering.

Denver's ten best sushi restaurants
Jim Wills

6. Osaka Sushi

Despite its gimmick-less facade and sparse interior -- not to mention its location in a hard-to-access Colorado Boulevard strip mall -- Osaka Sushi has commanded what could be called a cult following, a loyal cadre of sushi fanatics to whom this joint is the only one in town. That's because the place boasts damn fine cuts of pretension-free fish alongside a long list of rolls that span everything from traditional maki to wild combinations tucked into rice -- including the nuclear roll, a spicy tuna roll made with chile oil and habañero peppers that's so hot, it's spawned its own eating challenge.

Denver's ten best sushi restaurants
Mark Manger

5. Sachi Sushi

One of the best sushi spots in the state is easy to miss if you're not looking. Sachi Sushi is tucked into a corner of the Niwot Market, and it consists of a handful of tables flanking a sushi counter. But from that unlikely location, Tsukasa Hibini, a native of Japan who spent three decades in the sushi business in this country, turns out impressive Japanese specials, as well as sushi that's basic in concept but excellent in cut and quality. On Sundays, you can side your fish with top-notch ramen, too.

Denver's ten best sushi restaurants
Jim Wills

4. Sushi Yoshi

The chefs at this strip-mall sushi bar go to great lengths to follow traditional Japanese recipes and cooking techniques, and to do it in a surprisingly serene setting, complete with tatami mats. Each dish is made to order from scratch, resulting in some of the most delicious, authentic Japanese fare available in Superior. Sushi is taken seriously here, and carefully chosen, precisely sliced and artfully plated fish is featured in both the bento boxes that reign at lunch and the traditional izakaya offerings at dinner.

Denver's ten best sushi restaurants
Jim Wills

3. Land of Sushi

Back in 2000, Land of Sushi opened in a strip mall across from what was then Southglenn Mall -- now the Streets at SouthGlenn -- and quickly made a splash. Over the years, the spot has just gotten better. The restaurant itself doesn't look like much, but the bare-bones ambience just means there's nothing to distract your attention from the food -- and the food definitely deserves all your attention. Owner Steve Lin gets shipments every day, and he regularly posts specials like live scallops and uber-fresh uni. But even if you're ordering the usual suspects -- like salmon, tuna and yellowtail -- you're assured some of the freshest fish around, cut excellently and displayed beautifully.

Denver's ten best sushi restaurants
Jim Wills

2. Sushi Den

In Denver, all roads lead to Sushi Den, the restaurant brothers Toshi and Yasu Kizaki opened over 25 years ago, immediately proving Colorado's status as a land-locked state was no excuse for bad fish. Sushi Den sources from all over the world, flying many selections in from markets in Tokyo. The chefs use those ingredients to turn out platters both traditional and inventive -- sometimes at the same time -- to the fans that pack this South Pearl spot on a nightly basis.

Denver's ten best sushi restaurants
Jim Wills

1. Sushi Sasa

It's been six years since Wayne Conwell opened Sushi Sasa, bringing to Denver the new-style Japanese cuisine he'd learned under Iron Chef Morimoto. Six years of dishes punched up with the influences of Italy and France, six years of stellar fish, six years of imaginative omakase menus exploring the best Japanese cuisine the city has to offer. Six years of Conwell staying spot-on in his execution of everything from tenderloin to toro.That landed Sushi Sasa our Best Sushi award in Best of Denver® 2011 -- and made it the restaurant to beat in Best of Denver® 2012.

Have another favorite? Tell us about it below.

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