Louisville, CO, Hana Japanese Bistro

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Published on: April 18, 2013
Hana Japanese Bistro
1148 W Dillon Rd
Louisville, CO

April in Colorado. I was done with winter but apparently winter was not done with me. In the three day I’d been there the area had received almost two feet of snow. I got off work a little early and decided to go out for sushi before going to church with a friend in Boulder. One of my colleagues suggested Hana Japanese Bistro and I decided to go.

Since I had just gotten off work, I went to the restaurant early and the place was empty. Not a good sign, but to be fair there was a snowstorm and the forecast was for ice. When I sat down, the waitress brought me some Miso soup and a hot towel.

Hana has a very extensive menu and not just sushi. I decided to order the deluxe sashimi and giant clam sashimi on the side. Giant clam is one of my favorite. Shortly after I ordered, the sushi chef came over and told me he couldn’t serve the giant clam sashimi, he did however suggest trying it in a spicy sauce. Because of his heavy Japanese accent I am not sure I understood why he couldn’t do the sashimi and I know I did not hear him say ‘spicy’. I typically do not like spicy sushi.

The meal came with a salad and I was pleasantly surprised to be served a cucumber sunomono. A good way to start. I cannot say enough about the sashimi. It is all about the fish and the fish was first quality. I especially liked the yellow tail. a couple of pieces were exceptionally firm and served with the skin on. The combo also had red snapper, tuna, octopus and tuna. While the tuna was good, it was not up to the quality of the rest of the fish.

When my giant clam arrived, I realized it was in a spicy sauce. The clam was perfect if a little spicy. It was very tasty and not too gummy. I found the sauce to be very flavorful even if it was spicy.

As I was enjoying my meal, something totally unexpected happened. The sushi chef came over and mentioned that they had fresh uni (sea urchin) and aji (horse mackerel). I enjoy both, but I can never pass up mackerel.Great, I had already ordered a whole meal but i decided to order it anyway.

Mackerel spoils so most of the time it is served pickled, but when a sushi chef talks about fresh mackerel – he means live mackerel. The llive mackerel is served as aji-no-tataki. The fresh fish is filleted and served decorated with the carcass and bones. When you are done the bones including the head, the tail, and some meat is taken back to the kitchen and deep friend. Once it comes back to the table, you can pick the meet out of the head, and eat most of the bones and the tail. The aji was perfect.

Hana is exactly the kind of sushi restaurant I enjoy.

Hana Japanese Bistro 5 rice bowls * * * * *

Fort Collins, CO — Suehiro

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Published on: May 15, 2008
223 Linden St
Fort Collins, CO

Everyone I spoke to in Fort Collins told me that for sushi, Suehiro was the place to go. As I drove down into the old town area of Fort Collins, I realized that I had been here before. Twice in fact, once for Dan’s Bakesale, and once before for work. In fact when I parked my car, I realized that I had been to Suehiro before.

Suehiro is located in a nice area of the old downtown, surrounded by shops, galleries and restaurants. As I walked down the street, I passed the Wright Life store, I order all my Frisbees from them online. When I got to Suehiro, I remembered that I had been there some years ago on a business trip to Fort Collins. Suehiro is a medium size sushi restaurant located across the hallway from an art gallery.

The restaurant seemed unusually busy for a Tuesday, but things seemed to be running smoothly. Suehiro, is one of those places where the staff seems to know everybody by name and most people appear to be regulars. Service was on the slow side and it took a while before anyone came to take a drink order. I was sitting at the sushi bar and I decided to order a sashimi combo. I was very pleasantly surprised when the sushi chef, who appeared to be the owner, asked me what sort of things I liked in my combo — a very nice touch.

Overall, Suehiro was good but not really outstanding in any particular area — next time I am in Fort Collins, I’ll be back.

Suehiro 3 rice bowls * * * - -

Boulder, CO — Japango

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Published on: August 30, 2007
1136 Pearl St
Boulder, CO

I was going out with some colleagues for Sushi. We were on Pearl Street when one of the guys asked a very attractive young lady if there was a sushi bar nearby. She said there were several and he asked which was he favorite. She said Japango on the Pearl St mall.

The Pearl Street mall is a pedestrian mall in the heart of Boulder, Colorado. On nice nights the mall is full of locals and students. The mall is lined with restaurants and shops and makes a great post-sushi stroll.

Japango is a pretty trendy sushi bar. They had a nice selection of specials. My colleagues and I started with an order of gyoza and I ordered the Sashimi Ultimate (chef’s choice). The gyoza was good. The menu offered gyoza steamed or fried, I forgot to specify and my waitress forgot to ask. I prefer it steamed but fried was nbot bad.

My meal came with miso and a salad. The miso was average, nothing special. The salad was unusual, it was probably the largest salad I have ever had in a sushi place. Unfortunately the salad quality did not match its quantity. The dressing was thin and almost tasteless and there was barely enough flavor the lettuce.

My sashimi was very good. All of the fish was fresh. I especially liked the white tuna and yellow tail. The tamago (egg) was a nice touch and added some sweetness to the fish tastes. The plate was nicely garnished and had a leaf made from cucumber skin on the side.

The most notable thing about the meal was something the waitress called Suki Maki. I asked her what it was. It looked like a sushi roll but it was not wrapped in rice. It was a sushi roll wrapped in a continuous piece of shaved cucumber. It was a nice touch, very tasty.

Japango is a very good sushi bar in a cool location for now my favorite in Boulder.

Jaopango: 4 rice bowls * * * * -

Louisville, CO — Tao Asian Fusion and Sushi Bar

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Published on: March 18, 2007
Tao Asian Fusion and Sushi Bar
594 S. McCaslin Blvd.
Louisville, CO

Louisville, Colorado is located in the tech belt between Boulder and Denver, Colorado. This area has many upscale malls and restaurants. I was looking for sushi and I had driven by Tao earlier in the morning. With great expectation, I stopped by Tao for lunch.

Tao is a new restaurant and has trendy, modern decor. There is a large sushi bar and seating both in the dark dining room and in a bright sunlit area by the windows. Since I had a book with me, I sat by the windows. The menu at Tao included a variety of Asian specialties, the curry dishes looked good but I was looking for sushi.

I ordered a Philly roll and a Maryland roll. The Maryland roll was tuna, cream cheese and a third ingredient that I cannot remember. I also ordered yellow tail and mackerel nigiri. As an appetizer, I ordered Crab Rangoon. When it arrived, the Crab Rangoon was perfect. Golden brown with crispy edges the flavor and texture were excellent.

When my sushi arrived, I was disappointed. The presentation was ordinary and uninspired. The two rolls were cut into unevenly sized pieces and the Philly roll had huge chunks of cream cheese in it. I like cream cheese, but I like balance as well. The cream cheese to salmon ratio was so high, I knew right away that the cheese would overpower the subtle taste of the fish.

The nigiri looked like it would fall right off the rice. When I tried to eat it — it did fall off the rice. My mistake was recovering the fish and actually eating it. The yellow tail was warm and felt as if it had sat under a heat lamp. The mackerel was almost mealy in texture.

Sevral nearby tables ordered Thai or Chinese dishes that looked very good. The Crab Rangoon was so good, that I may go back and try Tao again wen I am in the neighborhood — but I guarantee that I will not be ordering sushi.

If it weren’t for the Crab Rangoon Tao would have gotten only one rice bowl.

Tao: 2 rice bowls * * - - -

Colorado Springs, Co — Tako Japanese Restaurant

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Published on: February 27, 2007
Tako Japanese Restaurant
1830 Dominion Way
Colorado Springs, CO

Tako is a strip mall sushi restaurant located off Colorado Spring’s busy Academy Blvd. A colleague recommended it to me so I made it a lunch stop. I have to admit that this review probably doesn’t do Tako justice. The day after I ate at Tako, I rushed from Colorado Springs to Denver to catch a flight before a snow storm. In Minneapolis my flight home was canceled and I caught the late flight. I got home just in time to catch an ice storm that shut off power to my house for two days. As soon as power came back on, I had to fly to Virginia.

So I am writing this review from memory. I know that I told the colleague who recommended Tako that it was worth three rice bowls. I guess the best thing I can say about Tako was that nothing was bad and nothing was great. Tako was a pretty average sushi place. I’ll have to give it another try when I find myself back in the Springs.

Tako Japanese Restaurant: 3 rice bowls * * * - -


Denver, CO — Sushi Boat

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Published on: August 26, 2006
Sushi Boat
3460 South East Locust Street
Denver, CO

I was in Denver teaching a class and I asked my students where to go for sushi. Of course they all recommended Sushi Den (a SushiPligrim 5 rice-bowl restaurant). I ave been to Sushi Den many times so I asked for something  different and maybe closer. One of them recommended Sushi Boat.

Sushi Boat is an unusual sushi restaurant. I have seen similar setups in California. At Sushi Boat, there is a trough about 8 inches wide that circles the sushi bar. At dinner time they float wooden boats in it and run the current carries them around the sushi bar in front of the diners. The chefs make different sushi items and load them on the boats. You take a seat at the sushi bar and simply pick items off the boats as they go buy.

I went in at lunchtime and the boats were not running. I sat at the sushi bar and the skylight gave me the light I needed to read my book. I ordered a Philadelphia roll and some tuna, salmon and mackerel nigiri. I started with a sunomono salad.

The sunomono was interesting. The octopus was thinly sliced and tender, it tasted great. Instead of the normal cucumber, the sunomono was made with daikon and had a strong onion taste. Along with the octopus, there was a single cooked shrimp. Unfortunately the shrimp tasted awful, almost spoiled.

The sushi was decent enough but not spectacular. I found the prices on the high side. Overall, I might go back if I were in the neighborhood but I would not go out of my way to eat at Sushi Boat.

Sushi Taro: 3 rice bowls * * * - -

Greenwood Village, CO — Samurai

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Published on: August 25, 2006
9625 E. Arapahoe Rd.
Greenwood Village, CO

A reader suggested that I should give Samurai a try. This week I happened to be in Denver so I went stopped in to Samurai for lunch. Samurai is a large, sprawling restaurant with a couple of dining rooms, a sushi bar and a tatami room. Samurai also has free Wi-Fi.

The type on the menus was pretty hard for my middle-aged eyes to read. There were a good number of specials, always a good sign. I ordered the sashimi combo. The combo came with soup and salad. The soup was a miso with sliced mushrooms. The salad was notable for it’s size. The salad was huge, it was on a full-size dinner plate and came with dressing on the side.

The sashimi included 6 different kinds of fish. The fish was excellent every piece was firm and tasty. There was one strange detail, the individual pieces of sashimi. There were six kinds however each type of fish came in a single large piece except for the octopus. I have never seen sashimi served this way. Instead of three pieces of tuna, I got one large chunk of tuna. The fish was awesome but the pieces were sometimes too large to eat in one bite. Personally, I would have preferred thinner pieces.

Other than the size of the individual pieces, I enjoyed Samurai.

Samurai: 4 rice bowls * * * * -

Fort Collins, CO — Suehiro

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Published on: August 24, 2005
223 Linden St
Fort Collins, CO

When I asked my my colleagues for a sushi bar recommendation the unanimous response was that I should try Suehiro. Suehiro is in Fort Collins’ trendy Old Town district. Old Town is home to a bohemian collection of art galleries, antique stores and restaurants. Suehiro is located in a nicely renovated storefront across the way from a nature photography gallery.

Even on a Tuesday night, Suehiro was packed. Fort Collins is a college town and the crowd was definitely young. When I was seated I asked about Giant Clam. My waitress had no idea what it was and had to ask one of the sushi chefs. Giant Clam is not normally on their menu and they did not have any that night. I finally settled on an order of Gyoza (pork dumplings) with a selection of nigiri and a roll. My nigiri choices were tuna, surf clam, mackerel and scallop. I also ordered a Rock n Roll which at Suehiro is essentially a Philadelphia roll with salmon, cream cheese and avocado.

As a nice touch my a la carte order came with Miso soup and a cucumber and vinegar salad. The cucumber salad was excellent but I found the Miso soup to be extremely salty. When my gyoza arrived it looked really good. The gyoza came on a plate with a special section for sauce. But something didn’t look quite right. Gyoza usually comes with a dipping sauce of soy sauce and vinegar. The sauce that I received, looked like it had seeds in it and looked somewhat red. Curious, I dipped my chopstick in the sauce and had a tiny taste. I had to quickly down some water — the sauce was hot! Not warm but hot pepper hot. I like hot foods as much as the next guy but this was way too much and worse I don’t recall the menu warning about the sauce. I am glad I didn’t just dip a piece in the sauce.

After the gyoza it was no surprise that at Suehiro even the sushi was hot. Some sushi places place a bit of wasabi between the sushi rice and the fish. The tuna and surf clam both had quite a bit of wasabi on them. Fortunately the scallop and mackerel did not. Personally I like a little bit of wasabi but Suehiro put it on too strong.

Overall I was happy with the nigiri, the fish was fresh and firm. Saba (mackerel) is normally marinated in vinegar I often find the vinegar taste too strong. At Suehiro the mackerel was excellent without too much vinegar.

The Rock n Roll was disappointing. The pieces were inconsistent in size and the amount of fish, cream cheese and avocado varied dramatically from piece to piece. The roll was mainly rice with a tiny sliver of each ingredient. The presentation was lackluster at best. My order was placed haphazardly on a plate that was much to large.

Service at Suehiro was prompt and attentive. I know that some sushi fans like things hot, if you do you will find little to complain about at Suehiro.

Suehiro: 3 rice bowls * * * - -

Fort Collins, CO — Mt Fuji

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Published on: August 24, 2005
Mt. Fuji
4020 S. College Ave
Fort Collins, CO

Mt Fuji is a strip mall sushi restaurant. The decor is nothing special and the place has a single open dining room. When I visited Mt Fuji, I was in a hurry, I had to get back to work after lunch. Bad choice, when i arrived the restaurant wasn’t very busy but the service seemed slow. As the place filled up the service got worse. My waitress was inattentive and forgetful. It probably wasn’t her fault, management should have scheduled more waitresses for the lunch shift.

I ordered a sashimi combo from the dinner menu. It came with a small salad and Miso soup. The sashimi was nicely arranged and fresh. The combo had octopus, tuna, halibut and salmon. nothing exotic but everything was reasonably fresh and tasted good.

Rating Mt Fuji was hard. The food was decent but the service was bad. I guess, were I in the neighborhood again, I wold stop in for a bite.

Mt Fuji: 3 rice bowls * * * - -

Colorado Springs, CO — Jun

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Published on: April 20, 2005
1760 Dublin Blvd
Colorado Springs, CO
(719) 531-9368

Sushipilgrim has been to Jun before. On my previous trips to Colorado Springs, I visited Jun and several other sushi bars. At the time I was not writing reviews. My recollection is that Jun was pretty good.

This week I asked some of my clients about the best sushi place in the Springs. They suggested Jun. I had great expectations when I went to Jun last night.

Jun looked about the way I remembered it. While the address is on Dublin Blvd, the restaurant fronts onto N. Acadamy. The decor at Jun is pretty plain and beginning to look a little dated. But I went to Jun looking for sushi, not decor.

Jun has a good selection of non sushi items on its menu, but sushi is the prime draw. The whiteboard by the sushi bar had almost a dozen specials on it. Unfortunately, I missed the most intriguing of all — a lobster-mango roll. I will have to watch more closely, it sounde good.

I ordered a mixture of nigiri and maki. I orderd tuna, mackerel and giant clam along with a Philadelphia roll and a tuna/avocado roll. The presentation was average but right away I noticed that the rolls were consistent and nicely made.

The fish was very good quality, fresh and firm. I thought that the nigiri portions were too large. nigiri should be bite size and these were abit big to comfortably put in my mouth. The mackerel was not overly marinated and the tuna had an excellent flavor. The giant clam seemed a bit thin but the taste and consistency were good. I wish the rolls had more avocado in them and perhaps a larger portion of cream cheese in the Philly roll. I prefer fresh salmon to smoked salmon in my philly roll so I thought the smoked salmon was a bit strong.

The sushi chef was extremely personable and added to the ambience of the place. Jun is the sort of restaurant I visit repeatedly all over the country.

Jun may well be the best sushi restaurant in Colorado Springs.

Jun: 3 rice bowls * * * - -
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