Banzai offers many types of sushi, all of good quality, all expertly prepared, but it really gets on a roll when it contemplates sushi-roll possibilities. The restaurant offers more than a hundred types, divided into nine categories: no fish on the outside; seaweed outside (traditional roll style); crunchy tempura batter on the outside; fish on the outside; eel on the outside; NITRO (those would be the spicy ones); avocado on the outside; whole roll deep-fried; and, when available, harder-to-get sea urchin and bonito. Pick a combination of ingredients -- say, shrimp, asparagus, avocado, gourd and mayo -- and a style (do you want that deep-fried, the shrimp wrapped around it all, or the avocado on the outside?), then let the good times, and the good tastes, roll.

Yoshi Yoshida, who runs Sushi Wave with his wife, Cindy, is a veteran of some of Denver's best sushi bars, and his experience shows. Careful attention to detail, well-crafted sushi, expertly prepared cooked dishes and a warm welcome make this snazzy spot the best overall Japanese restaurant in town. Of course, most folks come looking for sushi, and they'll find it here, brand-spanking-new fresh and beautifully carved; the crunchy-centered, rich salmon-skin roll is one of the best in town. But chef Hiddo Mizouchi also knows what to do in the kitchen, and that's turn out exemplary gyoza, calamari, soft-shell crab and all the classics, including perfect miso soup, with just the right amount of tofu and scallions; supple pieces of filet mignon done teriyaki-style; flavorful grilled calamari steak; steamed fish and udon with the most concentrated broth imaginable. The clean, wavy lines of the decor give the place an upscale look without turning it snooty, and the staff is efficient and friendly. Catch the Sushi Wave.

Readers' choice: Domo

Yoshi Yoshida, who runs Sushi Wave with his wife, Cindy, is a veteran of some of Denver's best sushi bars, and his experience shows. Careful attention to detail, well-crafted sushi, expertly prepared cooked dishes and a warm welcome make this snazzy spot the best overall Japanese restaurant in town. Of course, most folks come looking for sushi, and they'll find it here, brand-spanking-new fresh and beautifully carved; the crunchy-centered, rich salmon-skin roll is one of the best in town. But chef Hiddo Mizouchi also knows what to do in the kitchen, and that's turn out exemplary gyoza, calamari, soft-shell crab and all the classics, including perfect miso soup, with just the right amount of tofu and scallions; supple pieces of filet mignon done teriyaki-style; flavorful grilled calamari steak; steamed fish and udon with the most concentrated broth imaginable. The clean, wavy lines of the decor give the place an upscale look without turning it snooty, and the staff is efficient and friendly. Catch the Sushi Wave.

Readers' choice: Domo

From the gracious service and elegant, flower-filled setting to the sea scallops in a spicy garlic sauce and honey-glazed apples, La Chine is everything Chinese dining should be. No gloppy sauces or made-in-Taiwan knickknacks here -- the dining room is as classy and evocative of Asian hospitality as the food. And what food: seafood in your choice of sauces, including ginger, spicy black bean and traditional Szechuan; sweet-and-sour orange roughy fish balls; an Oriental version of gumbo; true kung pao beef complete with ginger, garlic, whole dried chiles and fried peanuts; the house specialty of succulent tea-smoked duck; and lamb in a chile sauce. Call a day ahead and beg for the beggar's chicken, a whole bird that's stuffed with sweetened rice and rubbed with Chinese five-spice powder before being baked in clay, or try the bargain (for those with a big appetite) gourmet $22.50 prix fixe dinner, which includes a platter of five appetizers (check out the pickled jellyfish), La Chine's popular chicken with pine nuts in a lettuce leaf, soup, one of four entrees (go for the Peking duck), and banana fritters or lychees in syrup for dessert. You'll never want to touch a tired old pu pu platter again.

Readers' choice: P.F. Chang's

From the gracious service and elegant, flower-filled setting to the sea scallops in a spicy garlic sauce and honey-glazed apples, La Chine is everything Chinese dining should be. No gloppy sauces or made-in-Taiwan knickknacks here -- the dining room is as classy and evocative of Asian hospitality as the food. And what food: seafood in your choice of sauces, including ginger, spicy black bean and traditional Szechuan; sweet-and-sour orange roughy fish balls; an Oriental version of gumbo; true kung pao beef complete with ginger, garlic, whole dried chiles and fried peanuts; the house specialty of succulent tea-smoked duck; and lamb in a chile sauce. Call a day ahead and beg for the beggar's chicken, a whole bird that's stuffed with sweetened rice and rubbed with Chinese five-spice powder before being baked in clay, or try the bargain (for those with a big appetite) gourmet $22.50 prix fixe dinner, which includes a platter of five appetizers (check out the pickled jellyfish), La Chine's popular chicken with pine nuts in a lettuce leaf, soup, one of four entrees (go for the Peking duck), and banana fritters or lychees in syrup for dessert. You'll never want to touch a tired old pu pu platter again.

Readers' choice: P.F. Chang's

As anyone who's seen the movie Tampopo knows, properly cooked ramen involves more than just dropping the dried noodle square into two cups of water and adding the flavor packet three minutes later. The noodle house is religiously revered in Japan, and noodle chefs take care to make sure their final product is the Zen equivalent of a cup of tea. Japanese native Keiji Oshima, who has a string of successful noodle houses in Tokyo, left his country when a friend, Todd Imamura, asked him to come to Colorado and open a ramen house. Imamura is now co-owner and manager of Oshima Ramen, Oshima's the cook, and together the buddies are doing their best to educate Colorado to just how top ramen can be. And so at Oshima you'll find beautiful, clear, deeply flavored broths teeming with fresh vegetables and carefully sliced meats, all adding more flavor to already potent brews that have simmered for hours. Three base types -- shoyu, tonkotsu and miso -- are available, and each comes in a bowl big enough to feed a small family. The eatery is so clean and well-lit it sparkles, and there are few shows as entertaining as a noodle chef doing his thing.

As anyone who's seen the movie Tampopo knows, properly cooked ramen involves more than just dropping the dried noodle square into two cups of water and adding the flavor packet three minutes later. The noodle house is religiously revered in Japan, and noodle chefs take care to make sure their final product is the Zen equivalent of a cup of tea. Japanese native Keiji Oshima, who has a string of successful noodle houses in Tokyo, left his country when a friend, Todd Imamura, asked him to come to Colorado and open a ramen house. Imamura is now co-owner and manager of Oshima Ramen, Oshima's the cook, and together the buddies are doing their best to educate Colorado to just how top ramen can be. And so at Oshima you'll find beautiful, clear, deeply flavored broths teeming with fresh vegetables and carefully sliced meats, all adding more flavor to already potent brews that have simmered for hours. Three base types -- shoyu, tonkotsu and miso -- are available, and each comes in a bowl big enough to feed a small family. The eatery is so clean and well-lit it sparkles, and there are few shows as entertaining as a noodle chef doing his thing.

If at first you don't succeed at finding a great Thai restaurant, Thai, Thai again -- until you stumble upon Thai Bistro. This is a humble, unassuming space, located in a strip mall with no fanfare, but what savvy chef/owner Noi Phromthong cooks up deserves to be billboarded around town. Once diners have settled into this this sparsely decorated, yet somehow stylish, eatery, the service is attentive and graceful, and the food comes out looking like art. Phromthong combines curries and coconut milk, chiles and fresh herbs in ways that show his keen insight into the importance of balance and proportion. A rich, sweet pad Thai arrives with each noodle carefully laid across the plate, shrimp delicately placed to one side and garnishes galore; an extra-hot panang curry brings a huge helping of supple chicken wok-tossed with bell peppers and fresh basil held together with a coconut sauce enhanced with fennel and coriander. The curries are sweat-inducing, and the appetizers are the kind of addictive tidbits that really make a Thai meal: crunchy spring rolls, soft, steamed dumplings, and creamy-centered, deep-fried tofu, each with its own distinctive sauce and plethora of attractive -- and edible -- garnishes.

Readers' choice: Tommy's Thai

If at first you don't succeed at finding a great Thai restaurant, Thai, Thai again -- until you stumble upon Thai Bistro. This is a humble, unassuming space, located in a strip mall with no fanfare, but what savvy chef/owner Noi Phromthong cooks up deserves to be billboarded around town. Once diners have settled into this this sparsely decorated, yet somehow stylish, eatery, the service is attentive and graceful, and the food comes out looking like art. Phromthong combines curries and coconut milk, chiles and fresh herbs in ways that show his keen insight into the importance of balance and proportion. A rich, sweet pad Thai arrives with each noodle carefully laid across the plate, shrimp delicately placed to one side and garnishes galore; an extra-hot panang curry brings a huge helping of supple chicken wok-tossed with bell peppers and fresh basil held together with a coconut sauce enhanced with fennel and coriander. The curries are sweat-inducing, and the appetizers are the kind of addictive tidbits that really make a Thai meal: crunchy spring rolls, soft, steamed dumplings, and creamy-centered, deep-fried tofu, each with its own distinctive sauce and plethora of attractive -- and edible -- garnishes.

Readers' choice: Tommy's Thai

New Saigon
Mark Manger
Denver has a number of decent Vietnamese restaurants, but New Saigon outshines them all. Although service remains a crapshoot and the tidy, simply adorned place isn't going to win any awards for innovative decor, the Vietnamese dishes that come out of the kitchen are unsurpassed. Choose from hundreds of entrees --many variations on a theme, with the kind of meat making the difference -- and then expect to get nothing but the best, from the egg and spring rolls to the garlic-kissed frogs' legs and marinated meats so sweet and tender they're almost like flesh candy. The noodle bowls are inexpensive but generous and packed with good ingredients; the garnishes are plentiful and fresh; and the dipping sauces could not be more authentic. New Saigon is an oldie that's still a goodie.

Readers' choice: New Saigon

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