Sometimes simple is best. Sometimes getting right to the point is better than a whole lot of fancy-pants messing around. And when you're talking about seafood, this is almost always the case. At Lola, Dave Query and Jamey Fader (both also associated with Jax, a longtime Best of Denver fave) have taken this wisdom to heart and come up with a coastal Mexico-themed restaurant where sea critters are the stars. Tender salmon mopped with a barbecue sauce that enhances but never overpowers the fresh, delicate flavor of the fish; rock shrimp ceviche kicked up with candy-sweet mango; a rustic Spanish estofada, a deeply but gently seasoned stew in which the huge shrimp and a half-lobster split like a biology illustration take center stage -- these are just a few of the straightforward and rough-edged dishes that draw huge crowds to Lola. It's nothing fancy -- not artsy or overly gussied up, just good food that speaks for itself.


Jax Fish House
Jax Fish House
Sometimes simple is best. Sometimes getting right to the point is better than a whole lot of fancy-pants messing around. And when you're talking about seafood, this is almost always the case. At Lola, Dave Query and Jamey Fader (both also associated with Jax, a longtime Best of Denver fave) have taken this wisdom to heart and come up with a coastal Mexico-themed restaurant where sea critters are the stars. Tender salmon mopped with a barbecue sauce that enhances but never overpowers the fresh, delicate flavor of the fish; rock shrimp ceviche kicked up with candy-sweet mango; a rustic Spanish estofada, a deeply but gently seasoned stew in which the huge shrimp and a half-lobster split like a biology illustration take center stage -- these are just a few of the straightforward and rough-edged dishes that draw huge crowds to Lola. It's nothing fancy -- not artsy or overly gussied up, just good food that speaks for itself.
"Running a successful fish house is like juggling ice cubes on a hot day," says Jax chef/owner Dave Query in the preface to the new Jax Fish House Book of Fish. And while he might be right -- doing fresh fish properly in a state that doesn't even border a state that borders an ocean -- can be rough, Query and co-author Jill Zeh Richter give away a lot of the house secrets in this comprehensive guide to all things tasty and aquatic. In addition to roughly a hundred recipes (which include saucing directions and plating hints for the Martha Stewart in all of us) culled from Jax menus past and present, the Book of Fish is also a treasure chest of food history, lore and terminology. For example, who knew that before industrialization of the area around the Caspian Sea, sturgeon used to live up to 200 years -- and that now all caviar must be processed through the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species? Or that many species of grouper undergo sex-reversal in middle age, producing sperm when they're young and eggs when they get older? For food nerds, this is all pretty cool stuff. And for those who don't particularly care about the sexual peculiarities of their dinner and just want to know how to cook it, the recipes are simple, straightforward, brightly illustrated and accompanied by directions for making dozens of sides and sauces.


"Running a successful fish house is like juggling ice cubes on a hot day," says Jax chef/owner Dave Query in the preface to the new Jax Fish House Book of Fish. And while he might be right -- doing fresh fish properly in a state that doesn't even border a state that borders an ocean -- can be rough, Query and co-author Jill Zeh Richter give away a lot of the house secrets in this comprehensive guide to all things tasty and aquatic. In addition to roughly a hundred recipes (which include saucing directions and plating hints for the Martha Stewart in all of us) culled from Jax menus past and present, the Book of Fish is also a treasure chest of food history, lore and terminology. For example, who knew that before industrialization of the area around the Caspian Sea, sturgeon used to live up to 200 years -- and that now all caviar must be processed through the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species? Or that many species of grouper undergo sex-reversal in middle age, producing sperm when they're young and eggs when they get older? For food nerds, this is all pretty cool stuff. And for those who don't particularly care about the sexual peculiarities of their dinner and just want to know how to cook it, the recipes are simple, straightforward, brightly illustrated and accompanied by directions for making dozens of sides and sauces.
In Japan, a sushi chef will study for years just to learn the proper way to use a knife. He will apprentice himself to a master chef, work insanely long hours, learn everything he can about rolling fish up with rice -- and then spend a lifetime getting better and better at it. For hundreds of years, the Japanese have labored to refine the art of sushi, and while there are dozens of places in and around Denver where you can experience the fruits of all this obsessive attention, there's one that stands out: Opal. Executive chef Duy Pham is a freak for freshness and perfection, sometimes getting in three shipments a day from suppliers so that nothing ever sits, nothing ever ages. He keeps a close eye on his two sushi chefs -- Herry Fnu and Mario Moscoso -- and makes good and goddamn sure that every plate, every roll, every scrap of fish and grain of rice is exactly where it belongs. Since even something as simple as a cucumber roll takes on an element of the divine when this much attention is lavished upon it, imagine the heights to which something as delicate as sea urchin or complex as the Golden Dragon roll can be raised when subjected to such scrutiny. No matter what your passion, trust in the traditional rigor and exacting hands at Opal to do it better than anyone else.


Opal Restaurant & Lounge
In Japan, a sushi chef will study for years just to learn the proper way to use a knife. He will apprentice himself to a master chef, work insanely long hours, learn everything he can about rolling fish up with rice -- and then spend a lifetime getting better and better at it. For hundreds of years, the Japanese have labored to refine the art of sushi, and while there are dozens of places in and around Denver where you can experience the fruits of all this obsessive attention, there's one that stands out: Opal. Executive chef Duy Pham is a freak for freshness and perfection, sometimes getting in three shipments a day from suppliers so that nothing ever sits, nothing ever ages. He keeps a close eye on his two sushi chefs -- Herry Fnu and Mario Moscoso -- and makes good and goddamn sure that every plate, every roll, every scrap of fish and grain of rice is exactly where it belongs. Since even something as simple as a cucumber roll takes on an element of the divine when this much attention is lavished upon it, imagine the heights to which something as delicate as sea urchin or complex as the Golden Dragon roll can be raised when subjected to such scrutiny. No matter what your passion, trust in the traditional rigor and exacting hands at Opal to do it better than anyone else.
When the sheer drudgery of haggling through "low, no haggle prices," test-driving and penny-pinching gets to you, take a break. The interior of Sushi Uokura is incongruously reminiscent of the most casual of beach houses, and the sushi is excellent, without an ounce of the precious pretention that's befallen so many Denver favorites. And when you've finally hammered out an automotive deal, Sushi Uokura will be happy to pour you some premium sake. By that time, you'll have earned it.


Sushi Uokura
When the sheer drudgery of haggling through "low, no haggle prices," test-driving and penny-pinching gets to you, take a break. The interior of Sushi Uokura is incongruously reminiscent of the most casual of beach houses, and the sushi is excellent, without an ounce of the precious pretention that's befallen so many Denver favorites. And when you've finally hammered out an automotive deal, Sushi Uokura will be happy to pour you some premium sake. By that time, you'll have earned it.
Why a Japanese country restaurant -- not to mention Zen garden, museum and complete Japanese cultural center -- is located in this industrial part of Denver is anybody's guess. What Domo's doing here, however, is very clear: Chef/owner Gaku Homma Domo's serving the town's best Japanese food -- both authentic provincial fare and sushi -- in a setting that's a marked contrast to all the sushi-chic spots in town. Walk into those places, and you feel like you're stepping into the pages of GQ; step into Domo, and you're in another country altogether: the land of the rising sun. In the summer, you're greeted by outdoor gardens where the train whistles sounds like nightingales; in the winter, glasses of sake steam from the tables. Arigato, Domo.


Domo
Why a Japanese country restaurant -- not to mention Zen garden, museum and complete Japanese cultural center -- is located in this industrial part of Denver is anybody's guess. What Domo's doing here, however, is very clear: Chef/owner Gaku Homma Domo's serving the town's best Japanese food -- both authentic provincial fare and sushi -- in a setting that's a marked contrast to all the sushi-chic spots in town. Walk into those places, and you feel like you're stepping into the pages of GQ; step into Domo, and you're in another country altogether: the land of the rising sun. In the summer, you're greeted by outdoor gardens where the train whistles sounds like nightingales; in the winter, glasses of sake steam from the tables. Arigato, Domo.

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