Golden Phoenix's owner brings a Thai background to the eatery's cuisine, but the cooking staff ably represents Thailand, China, and Japan with an eclectic menu of pan-Asian staples. Diners can clasp fresh sushi rolls or lap up spicy coconut curries, complemented by a broad selection of wines and sake.
Carved straight-backed chairs and hanging crimson lanterns cultivate a traditional Chinese vibe inside Golden Shanghai's spacious dining room. Nearby, a wall with strings of firecrackers and golden Buddha statues creates an exotic backdrop for family dinners or faked vacation photos. In keeping with the traditional décor theme, chefs plate MSG-free Chinese classics such as crispy duck and spicy Hunan beef as well as more adventurous specialties from a separate authentic-Chinese menu.
Elsewhere, however, the kitchen defies standard categories, bringing together the disparate cuisines of Japan, Thailand, and Vietnam for eclectic feasts. Tender morsels of Thai satay chicken share table space with Japanese sushi and udon, and chefs also stir up bowls of Vietnamese noodle soup. As they chomp their way through the tastes of the East, visitors can toast another year of not renewing their passport with glasses of tropical cocktails or frosty, thirst-quenching beers.
Banzai Sushi's chefs award imaginative nicknames to the 100 distinct sushi rolls that earned the restaurant a top-five spot on ABC 7's A-List in 2011. The Nitros roll, baked in a blanket of spicy sauce, awakens taste buds with salty smelt roe and crunchy flecks of tempura, while Drum rolls keeps things fresh with tuna, lemon, and asparagus. For a hot meal, diners can tear into a hibachi-grilled meat or classic teriyaki entree, each available with a choice of salmon, chicken, or New York–style steak.
At Blue Fin Sushi, chefs skillfully slice fresh fish and veggies before wrapping the ingredients snugly in seasoned rice and seaweed. Signature rolls include the Caterpillar Roll?cucumber and eel topped with avocado?and the 29th Roll, which spotlights both seared and spicy tuna. Alternatively, hot entrees such as teriyaki chicken and steamed chilean sea bass are perfect for diners who need to warm up their stomachs but accidentally left their electric cummerbunds at home.
Each morning as the sun blossoms in the sky, chilled containers of fresh seafood arrive at Bara Sushi and Grill, causing chefs to smile in anticipation of the day’s creations. Lobster tail, salmon, and shrimp share space with unique sidekicks such as potato crunch, goat cheese, and mango in sushi rolls with names including The Big Lebowksi, Red Dragon, and Crouching Tiger. During midday hours, diners can ditch peanut-butter sandwiches for customizable lunchboxes, which can be filled with selections such as teriyaki chicken, veggie tempura, hall passes that never expire, and spicy tuna rolls.
Nearing the three-decade mark since opening its first store, Kokoro cooks up quick and tasty Japanese meals using fresh, never-processed ingredients, including Colorado-grown co-op vegetables whenever possible. Many of those meals feature a secret teriyaki sauce, such as the Kokoro Bowl—a fusion of juicy beef, teriyaki chicken, and veggies—which reigns as the restaurant's most popular bowl. Kokoro—whose loose translation is “heart” and points to the staff’s passion—also provides a drive-thru option, extending the same courteous, full-service experience even for the demanding task of accommodating the governor’s motorcade.