If you're looking to expand your sushi-roll horizons in 2019, chef Jay Kuni has something you probably haven't tried before — because he invented it himself. The chef just opened Kuni Denver at the end of 2018 at 2752 Welton Street in Five Points, and among the traditional and new-style offerings is the San Diego roll, made with a cabbage-leaf wrapper and topped with mango, habanero and crispy tempura bits.
Kuni has been a sushi chef for more than twenty years, getting his start in San Diego before eventually moving to Denver in 2009 to work for Hapa Sushi. Now chef/owner of his own establishment, he has designed a menu light on descriptions to help foster dialogue between customers and staff, whom he endeavors to hire from the Five Points community.
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So that San Diego roll doesn't come with a list of ingredients, but servers are happy to give you a complete rundown, and can also explain the izakaya-style list of small plates, which starts with classic Japanese options such as sunomono (cucumber salad), a tempura combo plate and teriyaki skewers before veering into house specials in the Asiago lobster dip and wasabi hummus, both served with grilled naan.
Kuni explains that he wants to have a conversation with his guests and get to know them, so that eventually he can come up with creative specials based on individual preferences, and so that regulars will feel comfortable putting themselves in the chef's hands for an omakase dinner (in which you get to name your price).
Other traditional elements of service include hot hand towels for each guest, handmade serving boards built to resemble the Japanese wooden sandal known as a geta, and complimentary matcha green tea.
Kuni Denver is open for dinner from 5 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, with lunch served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday through Friday. There's also a happy-hour menu served from 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Friday. Visit the Kuni Denver website or call 720-573-8895 for more details.