Sushi Den Is Still One of the Best Sushi Restaurants in Denver

Sushi Den opened in Denver all the way back in 1985 (which seems amazing considering how quickly you see restaurants come and go here). Toshi, who had been a chef in Tokyo and Los Angeles came to Denver to start the sushi restaurant — and it’s since become renowned not just in Denver, but the country: Zagat rates Sushi Den as one of the most prestigious sushi and Japanese restaurants in the USA.  One of the reasons for this is that they fly in the freshest fish from around the world — including Nagahama Fish Market in their home prefecture on the Japanese island of Kyushu. (You can ask about their Freshest Catch of the Day from Nagahama.)

I’m embarrassed to say it took me 6 years of living in Denver to finally come here — but I’m glad I did. It was only for lunch, but I’ll definitely be back for dinner (or maybe to sister restaurant Izakaya Den next door). I can confidently say that Sushi Den and the newer Matsuhisa in Cherry Creek (from Chef Nobu Matsuhisa) are the top 2 sushi destinations in town.


The Food

From the Catch of the Day Menu, the jalapeno hamachi (3 pc) and kanpachi (3 pc) is absolutely melt-in-your-mouth delightful. If you’re wondering whether flying in the fish fresh every morning makes a difference — you can tell when you try this.

A “house favorite” — the crispy spicy tuna is a great combination of textures and flavors: crispy fried rice, spicy tuna, avocado, jalapenos, tobiko, and sauce. And it’s only $12!

If you ever have the chance to try “aburi” sushi — do it. “Aburi” refers to the style: lightly grilled on the outside, raw on the inside — and it’s 2x as flavorful as regular sushi in my opinion. Aoba used to serve aburi sushi downtown until it closed, and I was so excited to see it at Sushi Den. This is the aburi gnomefish below — and I’m excited to try the aburi toro next time.

The miso marinated broiled black cod is a must try as well. I always miso cod whenever I see it on a sushi menu, and this is definitely among my favorites (even at $18). The fish just flakes apart it’s so tender, and the miso adds the perfect amount of sweet-and-savory flavor. I’d be hard-pressed to pick the winner here between Sushi Den and Matsuhisa, to be honest.

Save room for the upside-down pineapple cake, because it’s the perfect ending to a meal — without being too heavy.

The Drinks

Unsurprisingly, the sake menu here is awesome. I was really impressed by the Suijin “God of Water” Junmai (only $19). Light, refreshing, and perfectly dry — so if you’re like me and you prefer sake that isn’t sweet, you’ve got to try this one.

I was in the mood for something sparkling after lunch, so I asked if they had a sparkling sake (I didn’t see one on the menu). Lo and behold, the Hakutsure Awa Yuki sparkling sake! Yum!