By using only 100% vegetable oil and fat-free love, Masa Asian Kitchen's chefs are able to craft Chinese, Japanese, Thai, and Vietnamese entrees that are both flavorful and MSG-free—entrees such as lo mein noodles, green curry, and teriyaki salmon. They also create 20 sushi rolls, the seaweed casings of which pack in tempura shrimp, spicy crab, cream cheese, and avocado. To request adjustments to a dish, diners simply speak with their server, who can ask the chef to turn a meaty dish into a vegetarian entree or a spicy dish into just a bunch of napkins dipped in water.
Located on 15th Street in downtown Denver, Sushi Sasa blends traditional with “new style” Japanese cuisine. The restaurant has a sleek white and wood interior that merges modern touches with natural elements inside a bright, inviting room. The menu changes daily, so that chef/owner Wayne Cornwell can make sure to bring only the freshest and tastiest ingredients to the table. The restaurant serves unique sushi rolls like the Grilled Eggplant Roll and the Caprese Roll, and even offers an adventurous Otsumami (Japanese tapas) menu that includes the popular shrimp and lobster Atomic Dynamites and asparagus tempura with a spicy aioli on the side. They also have a wonderful sake and wine list. The downstairs is cozy, but can get a bit noisy during the busier hours, while upstairs seating is quiet and elegant.
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.
When to Go: For a more casual, slightly less expensive meal, swing by for happy hour (2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday–Saturday), when select appetizers, wines, and cocktails are served at a discount.
In the Press
Inside Tip: Do not ask for ketchup. Beyond the fact that it's a faux pas at upscale restaurants, Chef Lon Symensma just can't stand the stuff. As he told an interviewer for Westworld, one of his first apartments was next door to a Heinz factory, which permeated the air with the smell of tomatoes and vinegar. This experience left the chef with a strong aversion to the popular condiment.
Cholon: literally translates to "big market," and it's also the name of the largest Chinese market in Saigon, Vietnam.
Pandan: a fragrant, almost-floral herb used in Southeast Asian cooking. At ChoLon, Chef Symensma tosses it into his Singapore-style chicken and rice.
While You're in the Neighborhood
Before: Whet your appetite with a trip to EVOO Marketplace (1338 15th Street), where you can sample gourmet olive oils and balsamic vinegars.
After: Sip a nightcap at Mario's Double Daugher's Salotto (1632 Market Street), a dimly lit lounge with a Grimm's fairy tale kind of feel.
Inspired by the Hawaiian term hapa, which describes a harmonious blend of Asian and American cultures, the chefs at Hapa Sushi Grill & Sake Bar strive to balance dynamic flavors with every dish. They follow traditional Japanese techniques but incorporate influences from American, Hawaiian, and Japanese cuisine to fill their lunch and dinner menus with original combinations. Kalua pork peking wraps fold around Hawaiian-style pulled pork and the Poke Don coats fresh ahi tuna or salmon in a house poke sauce and sesame seeds. Sushi rolls range from basic california and shrimp tempura rolls to original creations, such as the XXX Roll, a core of tempura asparagus wrapped in hamachi and jalapeños, seared with olive oil, drizzled with ponzu, and played by Vin Diesel.
Described by chef/owner Troy Guard as ‰ÛÏcontinental social food,‰Û� the cuisine at Tag combines the flavors of Asia, Latin America and Guard‰Ûªs native Hawaii for an experience that is meant to be enjoyed with friends. Dishes are easily shareable, and run the gamut from charred ahi taco sushi to goat enchilada to duck two ways with pan-seared duck and duck confit spring rolls. Guests willing to put their faith in the chef will be pleasantly rewarded with Guard‰Ûªs ever-changing omakase menu. Watch the team at work in the open kitchen from a seat at the chef‰Ûªs counter, or sink into one of the oversized red booths as you await your meal. Tag‰Ûªs Larimer Square location makes it an ideal starting point for your night; however, with its lively atmosphere and seasonally inspired cocktails, you might find it hard to leave. Note: We believe correct name is TAG, so we would change that in title and copy