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Kokoro provides tasty, healthy Asian meals for veggie-lovers

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With three outposts in the metro area (555 Broadway, 2390 South Colorado Boulevard and 5535 Wadsworth Boulevard in Arvada), it's no surprise that Kokoro has become a go-to lunch and dinner destination for people craving a quick Japanese-style meal. (The South Colorado Boulevard and Arvada locations even have drive-thru facilities.) The meat offerings include Red Bird Farms chicken and U.S. Choice beef, plus more traditional favorites like unagi, salmon, shrimp and soft-shell crab, and the veggie dishes ensure that this small chain can help carnivores and herbivores meet in the middle over a meal.

The simple seaweed salad (pictured above) is a healthy, cheap starter dish that's also vegan; other appetizers include cold ginger tofu and those addictive salted soybeans, edamame, sided with peanut sauce. There's also a four-piece sushi dish for veggie-lovers: inari, short-grain sweet rice wrapped in twice-cooked tofu.

But vegetarians and vegans shouldn't have to live on appetizers and salads alone -- and they certainly don't have to here. The regular vegetable bowl is a steal at $4.79 (with an additional fifty cents forked over for brown rice). The snow peas, broccoli, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, carrots, napa and green cabbage are fresh and still crispy and crunchy after being lightly cooked and served over steamed rice. Some palates might find this dish a little bland, but some soy sauce and sriracha elevate the flavors to the next level.

A vegetarian Sobaghetti dish, with noodles and veggies, is also on the menu, and for dessert, there's a veggie-friendly (but not vegan) green-tea cheesecake. Refreshing!

For information, visit www.kokororestaurants.com/index.htm.

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