The Last Japanese Sushi Chef…
…well not the last one, but there really are not a lot of Japanese left in Colorado, so it can be hard to find an authentic sushi bar that caters to Japanese tastes.
Kazusan, the owner and operator of Sushi Kazu is one of the few remaining Japanese (he seriously might be the only Japanese person working in his own business).
He’s originally from Osaka, Japan, or I think that’s where he told me he was from, but my memory isn’t the greatest after a couple of drinks (it’s not even good prior to the drinks).
After spending upwards of $34 for 6-pieces at another really good, if not the best sushi bar in Denver, I had to find a cheaper and hopefully a closer spot because pricey sushi takes some of the fun out of my weekly sushi outings. Not to mention, having to Uber or Lyft it across town can add up because I like to drink, so finding a place in biking distance is even better.
Luckily, I found Sushi Kazu which is only 5 miles away, and they have ridiculously good prices, and an even cheaper happy hour M-F between 5-6:30 and ALL DAY Sunday.
You can see everything Kazusan offers in the coolers, along with a board on the right with all his specials.
If you want to know what the future is going to be like, you’re looking at it. A robot sushi chef that currently only operates when it’s fed that hippy energy, the sunlight.
A lot of sushi bars use a lot of masago (capelin roe), negi (green onion), and ponzu (citrus soy sauce), and so does Kazu’san which is the holy trinity of toppings for sushi bars. Holy or not, for me, too many sushi bars over use and it should be used sparingly, so that you can taste the natural flavors of the fish because that’s the truly holy experience.
There might seem to be a lot of sushi bars in Denver, but a vast majority of them can’t get the sushi rice right (which is the most important aspect) amongst a number of other things.
I’m not saying Kazu’san’s sushi rice is perfect because on a recent visit, the moisture content was off. Although, at least he gets it closer to how it should be done over the vast majority of places who are just faking the funk.
Kazu’san has a lot of seasonal fish that you won’t find at a lot of other places, so his menu will change year-round which is why when he has a new fish in, you better take advantage that he has it versus settling on your usual goto’s.
Trying to find a restaurant that is willing to take fresh saba (mackerel) and marinate it themselves is a fairly simple thing to do, but a lot of places don’t do it, except at Sushi Kazu where it is like mackeral buttah… I know that didn’t make it sound more appealing.
Shime saba is one of my favorites, but be warned mofo because a lot of the shiny fish aka hikarimono are popular in Japan, with Japanese patrons, or only with people who grew up eating fish (Asians in general, Spain, France, Italy, etc). A lot of Muuuuricans are just straight out weak sucks and will consider it too “fishy” (it’s a fish, it should be fishy like beef should be “beefy”).
As for the preparation, I personally like it with thin fresh slices of myoga atop iwashi which is an amazing ingredient that is a combination of a shallot and ginger.
Myoga is common in Japan and California, but it is unfortunately not a common ingredient found in Colorado.
Like saba (another hikarimono), iwashi spoils very quickly, so if you find it fresh, you just might want to try it. It’s a lot like fresh saba which is high in Omega 3’s.
What else would you only find in a Japanese sushi bar? A dish called “shiokara” which I love with yuzu citrus on it. Yuzu can be likened to a lemon, but a lemon sucks because it is more on the sour side.
Shiokara is typically eaten as a side dish with sake, and you might think of eating it the way you would while drinking a beer with peanuts.
This is a temaki which is a sushi cone full of ingredients that Kazu’san does well, and I think the one on the left is a negi-hama or yellowtail and green onion temaki with a salmon skin temaki on the right.
Yup, dude has rolls, and I order rolls like spicy tuna because that’s my basic side coming through, but when I’m feeling fancy, I do a saba, takuan, and yamagobo roll.
Hotate (scallops), I asked that salt and lemon only be used.
The uni (sea urchin) was served just fine, and it is a must any time I go eat sushi, if it’s good when they have it available because it’ll vary.
Most places will carry Santa Barbara/red sea urchin, but if you live in a uni lov’n area, they’ll often carry bafun or Japanese uni although I like SB uni the most.
The other items, was what my good homie Min ordered which I think was a spicy octopus gunkan where the seaweed is wrapped around the nigiri rice.
I thought I ate enough dynamite to last a lifetime during a short stint working at a sushi bar, but after trying a little of this one, I couldn’t help but eat a little more.
Kazu’s dynamite uses some deep-fried bits that give it an extra dimension of flavor to let your heart know it’s being attacked.
Got to finish off my meal with ikura (salmon roe) and Kazu’san’s tamagoyaki (egg omelette).
Here’s a general idea of what you’re in for (w/happy prices in parenthesis): As usual the prices are subject to change, and this is just a rough guide of what to expect (you knew that).
- Most importantly, Sapporo, Kirin, Asahi, S $3.50S, or L $6
- Bud, Bud Light, Coors, S $3
- 2-pieces katsuo nigiri $4.95 ($4.40)
- 2-pieces saba nigiri $4.80
- Spicy tuna roll $5.90
- 2-pieces, squid sushi $4.72
- Salmon skin temaki $4.40 ($3.20)
- Yellowtail temaki $4.70
- Shrimp dynamite (he has 4 types) $6.95
- 2-pieces, ikura $4.95 ($4.40)
- 2-pieces, tamagoyaki $3.80 ($3.90??)
The quality here can fluctuate, so you can have a really good meal, or a really bad one because of the inability of Kazu’san and the rest of the kitchen staff. They are just either really bad, or they just don’t care (mushy, poorly prepared sushi rice), and I think Kazu is in “fuck it” mode (“I’m old, I don’t care anymore”).
- Monday – Friday: 11:00am – 2:00pm Lunch, 5:00am – 10:00pm Dinner
- Saturday: 5:00pm – 10:00pm
- Sunday: 5:00pm – 9:30pm
- Happy Hour: M-F 5-6:30 & All day Sunday