Chuck and Martha Koch, owners of the Bear Creek Tavern, have family living on the Alabama shore, and while visiting there in 1991, they discovered Royal Reds. These beauties have been on the menu ever since, shipped in fresh every week straight from the Gulf Coast shrimpers to Kittredge. As far as the Koches know (and as far as we've been able to determine), Bear Creek Tavern is the only restaurant in the Rocky Mountain West that serves them. These are deep-sea shrimp, huge, with pale red shells, a meaty texture softer than that of most Asian varieties, and a flavor like very good crab dressed up as lobster. They come to the table in a massive, salty pile, with heads, legs, antennae and shells intact, attended by real drawn butter and lemon (no cocktail sauce unless you ask, and you shouldn't), Handi Wipes, a roll of paper towels and directions for coaxing the big monsters out. What they should come with is a pistol or something, so that you can defend yourself in case one of the bigger ones is only playing dead.
Say you're new to all this raw-fish nonsense. You're curious about the fuss, but you don't know your ebi from your uni. For you nigiri neophytes, we suggest making a lunch date at Hapa Sushi. While fish aficionados may scoff at Hapa's jumped-up, fusiony, oh-so-flashy fare, this hip Cherry Creek hot spot has two very important things going for it. First, the menu is comprehensively descriptive; no matter what you order, you'll know exactly what you're getting, and you won't accidentally find yourself with a plate full of sea urchin genitalia when what you wanted was shrimp and rice balls. Second, Hapa has a plethora of offerings that come baked, seared, fried and disguised with great names like the Spider Roll and the Multiple Orgasm, so no one will suspect you're scared to eat it raw.
Classic edomae sushi has no better avatars than the guys behind the bar at Sushi Tazu. Sitting in this beautiful, understated space in Cherry Creek, you can indulge your purist's cravings with everything from perfectly simple tuna nigiri to the bizarrely addictive sea urchin sashimi, from lovely tuna belly o-toro to more modern interpretations like giant crab-tempura rolls that look like big, leggy deep-fried spiders on the plate. Tazu also does less daring plates -- simple tempuras and bento box lunches -- and rounds out its offerings with cold Japanese beer and a good selection of sake. Sit at the bar, get to know the cooks, be brave, save room for unusual palate-cleansing desserts like frozen orange quarters, but always remember: Adding wasabe to your soy sauce before tasting the hand rolls is an insult. And at Sushi Tazu, you'll never need the extra spice, anyway.
Any way you slice it, Sushi Den is a top sushi spot. It's been a trendy destination for nearly twenty years, always loud, always crowded. Why? Because the house believes in importing everything it can straight from the warm, bloody center of the sushi universe: the fish markets of Japan. Oddly enough, this does not mean that you, the customer, will be getting the freshest of products, but you will be getting the best. Deeply purple tuna, iridescent toro banded with fat, excellent eel and beautiful shake pump up the menu here. Sure, the more exotic offerings are pricey, but like the man says: You get what you pay for.
Sometimes we forget how lucky we are to have restaurants in Denver that foodies will travel hundreds of miles to visit. Domo is one of those restaurants. It serves "country food," Japanese farmhouse cuisine, which translates as simple, elegant sushi presentations in hand bowls, yellowtail steaks, salted salmon donburi and a flight of exotic side dishes made fresh every day. Chef and owner Gaku Homma also has a traditional Japanese garden on site that's one of the most peaceful places we've seen, as well as an aikido dojo, and a museum and cultural center. Domo arigato.
Say you're new to all this raw-fish nonsense. You're curious about the fuss, but you don't know your ebi from your uni. For you nigiri neophytes, we suggest making a lunch date at Hapa Sushi. While fish aficionados may scoff at Hapa's jumped-up, fusiony, oh-so-flashy fare, this hip Cherry Creek hot spot has two very important things going for it. First, the menu is comprehensively descriptive; no matter what you order, you'll know exactly what you're getting, and you won't accidentally find yourself with a plate full of sea urchin genitalia when what you wanted was shrimp and rice balls. Second, Hapa has a plethora of offerings that come baked, seared, fried and disguised with great names like the Spider Roll and the Multiple Orgasm, so no one will suspect you're scared to eat it raw.
Sushi Den
Sushi Den
Any way you slice it, Sushi Den is a top sushi spot. It's been a trendy destination for nearly twenty years, always loud, always crowded. Why? Because the house believes in importing everything it can straight from the warm, bloody center of the sushi universe: the fish markets of Japan. Oddly enough, this does not mean that you, the customer, will be getting the freshest of products, but you will be getting the best. Deeply purple tuna, iridescent toro banded with fat, excellent eel and beautiful shake pump up the menu here. Sure, the more exotic offerings are pricey, but like the man says: You get what you pay for.
The only bad Vietnamese food is no Vietnamese food, but the best Vietnamese food being done in Denver is coming out of the kitchen at New Saigon. With hundreds of choices on the menu, dozens of sauces, a friendly and accommodating staff, and plenty of talent in the galley, anyone with a taste for the cuisine of the mysterious East is sure to find something to like at this perennial favorite. And while you're enjoying your spring rolls, nuoc cham and blazing hot curries, you're also getting a lesson in authentic Vietnamese cuisine, because New Saigon cooks Vietnamese food the same way it's been cooked in old Saigon for the past hundred years.
Domo
Sometimes we forget how lucky we are to have restaurants in Denver that foodies will travel hundreds of miles to visit. Domo is one of those restaurants. It serves "country food," Japanese farmhouse cuisine, which translates as simple, elegant sushi presentations in hand bowls, yellowtail steaks, salted salmon donburi and a flight of exotic side dishes made fresh every day. Chef and owner Gaku Homma also has a traditional Japanese garden on site that's one of the most peaceful places we've seen, as well as an aikido dojo, and a museum and cultural center. Domo arigato.
Pho is the ultimate do-it-yourself Asian cuisine. It's peasant food, lacking any pretension, based on frugality and the whole-food ethos that demands the use of any possibly edible bit of everything. Pho broth is slow-cooked, simmered and reduced simple stock kicked up with onions boiled until translucent, green onion stalks and spices. There's always salt but never pepper; sometimes star anise and cinnamon, often lemongrass and soy. Every minute the broth sits on the stove changes its character in small ways. Every minute it sits before you, cooling as you eat, changes it. But there's one thing you can be sure of at Pho 2000: No matter when you arrive, you'll find the best pho in town.

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