Ordering chirashi at a sushi bar is like ordering a bartender's-choice cocktail: You may not know exactly what you're going to get, but the surprise is part of the fun. At Izu Sushi (next door to Voodoo Doughnut on East Colfax Avenue), the chirashi bowl comes as an artfully constructed sampling of sashimi, pickled vegetables, shiso leaves and shredded daikon over seasoned sushi rice. The result is a refreshing and healthy salad with plenty of protein for even heartier appetites.
Chirashi is the Japanese word for "scattered," and the dish is generally composed of whatever is fresh that day. Tuna and salmon will almost certainly appear, since those are the meat and potatoes of most Denver sushi joints. Izu also adds salmon roe, spears of pickled yellow daikon, tamago (little slabs of egg omelet), pickled carrot and other sliced fish that might be a little more difficult to identify (albacore and escolar, on this visit). The rice beneath it all carries the familiar hint of rice-wine vinegar but is also seasoned with a blend of sesame seeds, dried seaweed and other spices.
You could order everything that comes in the bowl as separate pieces of sushi, but part of the pleasure of this chirashi is picking up little bites in various combinations — some with rice, some without, some with a shred of shiso leaf, some with a touch of wasabi or daikon. There's no wrong way to do it: Just dig in and enjoy the bright flavors of the sea.
(Note: Izu Sushi labels its escolar as "super white tuna," a common but not entirely accurate name for the fish. This is important to know because escolar can cause digestive issues if eaten in quantity. If you're sensitive to escolar or aren't sure, you can ask for it to be left off.)
Hungry for more? All the dishes in our 2016 countdown are linked below.
No. 100: Masala Beef at Biju's Little Curry Shop
No. 99: Bacon Shrimp and Grits at Bacon Social House
No. 98: Porchetta and Kimchi Sandwich at Brider
No. 97: Squab-and-Sunchoke Tortellini at Abejas
No. 96: Housemade Burrata at Viand
No, 95: Schweinshaxe at Rhein Haus
No. 94 Kimchi Jeon at Seoul BBQ
No. 93: Zuppa Pomodoro at Parisi Italian Market & Deli
No. 92: The Ocean Salad at Sushi-Rama
No. 91: The Signature Bowl from Churn & Burn
No. 90: Green Chorizo at Los Compadres
No. 89: The Diavola Calzone at Pino's Neighborhood Pizzeria
No. 88: Biscuits and Green Chile at the Noshery