Review of Denver’s Sushi scene by a couple of nigiri traditionalists

January 11, 2018 at 11:03 PM

Last year while attending the Super Computing 2017 conference representing Google I decided to give Denver’s sushi scene a try.

Guided by Zagat as a first filter, my wife and I happily discovered that Denver knows sushi!

This is the subjective review of 4 Denver sushi restaurants by a couple who mostly enjoy traditional nigiri.

  • Monday – Sushi Ronin – The sushi chefs are the focus right when you walk into this cozy space. Excellent Omakase with a nicely varied combination. Best Uni we tried in Denver.
  • Tuesday – Sushi Den – Larger and more modern than all the others, the Toro was great and the lobster tempura was delightful.
  • Wednesday – Sushi Ronin – Second time here was deliciously consistent compared to Monday, high marks again for freshness and presentation.
  • Thursday – Sushi Sasa – The fish was disappointing especially for the price, rice was cold, snobby in decor and service, not worth it.
  • Friday – Izu Sushi – A “dark horse” surprise not in Zagat, this was the only place in our tour de force that had impeccable Walu (Escolar) and the delicious Amaebi was very originally presented.
Sushi Ronin Denver

Sushi Ronin

Izu Sushi Omakase

Izu Sushi Omakase

Izu Sushi

Izu Sushi

Delicious amaebi with a glowing orb in the middle! Amazing job by Izu-Sushi

Delicious amaebi with a glowing orb in the middle! Amazing job by Izu-Sushi

Denver sushi restaurant ranking in order of nigiri sushi quality* and overall experience:

1. Sushi Ronin – 2930 Umatilla St, Denver, CO 80211

2. Sushi Den – 487 S Pearl St, Denver, CO 80210

3. Izu Sushi – 1528 E Colfax Ave, Denver, CO 80218

Not recommended: Sushi Sasa


*How do my wife and I define nigiri quality? 

We compare every sushi place to our favourite one: Fuki Sushi in Palo Alto, CA which we consider our “gold standard”. When we lived in the Bay Area the honourable Chef Hide delighted us there to no end.

Good Nigiri should “melt” in your mouth, the texture of any piece of fish or seafood should ideally be buttery smooth. The intensity of the savory flavour (also known as Umami) will unmistakably impact you. The rice should be at room temperature and sticky enough that it holds together as you maneuver the piece while dipping in soy sauce and the like but not so sticky that you notice it. Often a good balance of flavors blends into one savory sensation.