4

Fontana Sushi

While the Chen brothers now have their own Fontana Sushi in Littleton (see review, page 57), former partner Kevin Lin continues to run the original Fontana Sushi in central Denver. The two Fontanas have similar menus -- both places offer tempura and gyoza, donburi plates and soba noodles -- but their approaches are very different. While the Littleton Fontana is all about pushing the boundaries of traditional sushi in strange new directions, everything at the Denver Fontana is more subtle, more restrained. And that includes the setting, with its tranquil dining room carved into a warren of lovely spaces separated by cut glass, by rails, by blond wood and paper screens. Lin's sushi rollers are artists, creating rolls with beauty and balance and symmetry, and flavors with classical appeal. For the green roll, each piece of avocado is shaved with robotic precision and laid down as if measured with calipers and a micrometer; the spicy tuna inside is not spicy so much as possessed of a notion of spiciness -- a flare of heat that immediately dissipates on the tongue. The original Fontana is all about quiet pleasures; each piece of fish, each grain of rice, each tiny, toasted sesame seed is left to speak for itself. The two Fontanas stand on opposite sides of the outlaw/classicist divide. And we're lucky to have both.

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