James Beard Award-winning Chef Tyson Cole serves his nontraditional take on the Japanese fair in this upscale RiNo dining room. After studying for more than 10 years in Tokyo, New York and Austin under two sushi masters, Chef Cole is at the top of his game. Uchi’s menu includes sushi and cooked dishes with slight French influences noticed throughout. The bincho nigiri literally melts in your mouth. But Uchi’s sushi menu can also be intimidating to those less familiar with ordering sushi, to which we say, no problem at all—order omakase (chef’s selection) of 10 or six courses. If you come early, be sure to check out the happy hour deals for both food and drink. And Uchi’s private event space is the perfect location for your next birthday, corporate event or special gathering. Also, be on the lookout for Uchi’s sister location, Uchiko, opening in Cherry Creek in 2024.
With an impeccable indoor/outdoor vibe, Sushi Ronin in LoHi is ready to serve Denver year-round. The omakase and nigiri are incredible options but what this sushi spot is known for is its upscale rolls. The Scottish salmon roll is the epitome of “simplicity is key” and is in keeping with traditional Japanese sushi rolls. The salmon is so fresh, its smooth texture perfectly blends with the avocado for a rich and delicious bite. The Godzilla roll embraces the American influences in sushi while being careful to not take it too far. With tempera shrimp inside and seared beef on top, these two rolls give you an idea of Ronin’s range.
It’s almost impossible to talk about sushi in this city without mentioning the hotspot on South Pearl Street. It’s run by three brothers: two here in Denver, the third in Japan sourcing and shipping the freshest catches in town. They have a full menu of nigiri as well as rolls, from traditional to tempura. Sushi Den doesn’t stop at the food—they also specialize in flights of sake and Japanese whiskey. These are curated by the master chef and your waiter will talk you through each tasting. Currently, Sushi Den and Izakaya Den are operating as one restaurant. Reservations are hard to come by so look to book about three weeks in advance or arrive at 5 p.m. when the restaurant opens and wait in line for a seat at Denver’s most popular sushi spot.
Sushi Den’s lesser-known outpost, Temaki Den in The Source, specializes in hand rolls and aburi sushi. The RiNo location offers a more casual and approachable alternative to Sushi Den’s upscale experience, without sacrificing quality or freshness. The handrolls are simple fish or vegetarian options wrapped in vinegar rice and seaweed. You are supposed to eat the handroll the minute the server puts the plate in front of you, when everything is at the perfect temperature and consistency. And don’t worry about being overwhelmed: servers will pace out your bites for you so you are never shoveling sushi, but instead taking time to enjoy each bite and reflect afterward on the flavor. Aburi sushi is a modern technique of serving nigiri where you flash-sear the fish over a bed of rice and is another great option at Temaki Den.
White tablecloths and all, this sushi spot off Platte Street is best for a special dinner date or a fancy girl’s night out. With a quiet atmosphere, candles on the tables and reservations strongly recommended, this 15-year-old institution is one place to save for special occasions. The kitchen has robust offerings including beef truffle foie gras, sautéed calamari, bento boxes and noodle dishes. The raw offerings include oysters on the half shell, Hawaiian-style Hamachi, poke bowls, sushi rolls and pre-assorted sushimi dinners. Sushi Sasa’s chef and restaurant owner Wayne Conwell opened the new Tai Tai sushi restaurant in the Happy Canyon shopping center as a more casual outpost and is a good alternative if you can’t get a reservation at Sushi Sasa.