Sunday, November 18, 2012
Samurai Fine Japanese Cuisine and Sushi, Greenwood Village, Colorado
The south side of Denver is home to a large concentration of technology companies, and the money that comes with them. It also means that the area is a melange of many cultures. In my travels through the area, I found not only a large number of restaurants, but a wide variety of food cultures represented- all within a few scant minutes drive of my hotel. The area had at least three sushi restaurants almost within walking distance- so I took a spin around the neighborhood, and went with the one that my gut told me would be a good one- Samurai Japanese Cuisine and Sushi.
Samurai is an attractive place located off to one side of a small shopping center / strip mall. Unfortunately, it was a somewhat chilly day, or I would've taken advantage of the attractive, traditionally styled outdoor seating area. Inside, the restaurant is also styled on the traditional side of modern- warm tones, wood, Japanese artwork, etc rather than the more sterile, ultra modern stylings of the trendy-hipster type sushi bars that have become mroe popular in most urban areas in the northeast. For me, Sushi is more about the traditional than the "ultra-hip", so I felt like this was the place.
My lunch started off with the traditional Miso Soup and a salad of mixed greens with a ginger-based dressing. This Miso soup met my expectations, but probably wasn't quite the best bowl of Miso soup I've ever had. While it tasted like it should, it had an odd, almost curdled look to it- and for me, a sushi experience is as much about the presentation as it is about flavor. Good, but not the most attractive bowl of soup I've ever had.
When my main course arrived- a plate of "chef's choice" nigiri with a spicy tuna hand roll, any concerns over presentation went away. This was an attractive dish- all the fish looked fresh and clean. Every knife cut was precise, right down to the light scoring the chef put on the surface of the nigiri pieces to make the fish lay nicely on top of the rice. I give Samurai credit for the wasabi- they served me a substantial, pinball sized chunk of wasabi rather than the conservative marble sized blob you would normally expect- a touch I appreciate since I like to use a good dose of the stuff. I also have to give Samurai credit for their timing- my main course came out at exactly the right time. I just finished my soup and salad, and was thinking to myself "when is my main course coming" when it appeared, right on cue- I suspect this was no accident, but rather a well oiled machine moving out the components of the meal as precisely as the chef wields his favorite sushi knife.
This nigiri was everything it should be, it looked great, it tasted fresh, and it was high quality fish. The knife work was top-notch, and every piece looked like it was assembled with the kind of intense attention to detail that only a skilled Sushi Chef can bring to bear. The fish slices were actually larger than I expected, making this a substantial lunch at a very reasonable price considering the quality of food and service. The menu claims that Samurai has been in business for 30 years, and I can see why. If they continue to execute both their food and service this well, they will still be in business long after most of us are gone.