We found ourselves wandering around the area during dinner time and realized this sushi place has got hundreds of raving reviews, we were like, SOLD, no questions asked.
I ordered a hand roll of uni (sea urchin) that is supposedly flown in everyday fresh from San Diego. As far as sushi went, we had tuna firecracker roll, rainbow roll and rocky mountain (smoked trout) roll and the array of sushi rolls is displayed as below.
So the sushi rolls were very good, very fresh tasting as they should. In recent years, I have found myself grew more and more out of sushi rolls where things get stuffed and rolled — I crave more raw fish, in its simplest and raw-est form — a slice of prepared premium cut on top of a small perfect cooked rice ball. Nothing more. I regretted a little that I did not order a sushi platter or just an array of sashimi instead.
A good way to tell how good any restaurant is, is to order something basic, simple yet sometimes either hard to make or needing to be extremely fresh. A good cheaper alternative is to order something as basic as agedashi tofu or egg rolls (tamagoyaki). Traditional Japanese egg rolls/omelets only has egg and salt or sugar in them — the authentic ones should have eggs and eggs only. However, Sushi Den’s egg rolls contains pork and vegetables, so I opted out. A video tutorial teaching how to make tamagoyaki.
Therefore, I ordered Uni hand roll. Good uni should taste like clean deep ocean yumminess with a custard texture and a light, slightly sweet flavor with a hint of brininess. And the uni hand roll was great considering we were in Denver and my tummy was quite pleasantly surprised although my wallet was not. Lol. It cost $14 (mkt price, probably winding up to $17 including tips and tax, lol) that night to have one small hand roll! Ehhh, what the heck, my tongue and my stomach was happy and that is all that matters. Here is a nerdy article talking about “why uni tastes so good?!”.
We cleaned the plate of sushi and my hand roll and at that moment we were in the mood for something warm. I asked the waiter about their tonkotsu ramen and he said the chef went to Southern Japan to learn how to cook the ramen. We went ahead and order their tonkotsu ramen. Tonkotsu ramen is a specialty in the area of Kyushu with Hakata style being particularly famous and popular. The dish usually comes with a few slices of marinated pork, sea weeds, a half hard-boiled egg, garnished with some vegetables and spring onions. The key to umami is in the broth made from pork bones (aka tonkotsu), that is usually a cloudy white thick broth cooked for tens of hours to even days. The picture below was taken when we were halfway done with the noodles, lol.
The ramen was quite good with a plus on the flavor of chashu pork. The broth was close to what I have had in East Asia, but not quite as good, which was sadly expected. To be fair, since we live in such a health-obsessed area, Boulder/Denver metro, I cannot tell if it was done at the chef’s best or it was on purpose so that most customers will not complain about how “greasy” or “fatty” the noodles taste. On a different note, I totally disagree with the whole mentality that “fat equals bad” and “oh my gosh my cholesterol is shooting above the roof just because I had this bowl of noodles” stupidity.
Overall, the experience was quite positive and I would go back again for sure. Just be aware that what you order might not be actual authentic version of the food.