In late June, while cruising down Sheridan Boulevard, we eyed a liquor-license sign announcing that a restaurant named Nobu was taking over the former Walk-in Burgers space at 2255 Sheridan Boulevard. And we nearly cracked our head on the sidewalk, since Nobu, of course, is one of the most vaulted restaurants in the free world.
But Nobu Matsuhisa is not opening a Nobu in Denver -- and Nobu, the name, is a no-go, too.
Instead, the Japanese restaurant, which gravitates toward oyster and sushi, is now called Shiso Sushi & Oyster Bar. "I got a letter from a lawyer in California saying that we couldn't use the name 'Nobu,'" says owner Ben Ke, who swears on a spider roll that he'd never heard of Nobu -- the man or his restaurant -- until he did an Internet search. "Seriously, I had no idea there was a Nobu until I looked on the website."
His chef, Denny Wong, however, is from New York, home of the original Nobu, but he never worked there: According to Ke, who also runs Highlands Asian Grill (along with several partners), Wong sliced and diced raw fish at Saki House and Sakura Sushi, which is also his calling at Shiso.
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The space, dim and Zen (with the exception of Lady Gaga pulsating, over and over again, through the speakers), was mostly vacant last night when I stopped by to sample plates of briny Blue Point oysters, sushi, rolls and mochi red bean and green tea ice cream, but everything I tried was good -- not brilliant -- but certainly formidable.
And the daily happy hour, which hustles $1 sushi and oysters from 3 to 6 p.m., is a bargain. So, too, is the sushi roll lunch special: Any two rolls, plus miso soup and a green salad, are $8.50; three rolls ring in at $11.50 -- and the selection is vast.
Shiso is open daily for lunch and dinner.