Mikuni Sushi: Raw fish for amateurs

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Not surprisingly, just as there were no authentic Mexican restaurants in Rochester when I was young, there were no sushi bars, either. And definitely no sushi drive-thrus, even though sushi started out as fast food. Long before Ray Kroc came squalling into this world, preserved fish and balls of rice were being sold to weary travelers outside the walls of the fortified city of Edo (what Tokyo was before it was Tokyo).  But sushi took an unusual detour when it came to the United States. Rather than sticking to its roots, of persisting as simple, quick and casual cuisine made for the common man, it diverged: becoming both a big-ticket indulgence for Manhattan yuppies and Hollywood starlets and a freakishly foreign delicacy cloaked in mystery and tradition made to keep away the rubes and chance diners.  Rather than embracing the American fast-food culture, it spurned it, turned inward and became, for a long time, a purely ethnic kick.  "Raw fish?" most people would say.  "You ain't never gonna get me to eat that."

That was then. This is now. And things are different today --- as evidenced most obviously by the coming of a place like Mikuni Sushi to the Denver area. This sushi chain comes out of California, and seems to pride itself on offering a version of Japanese cuisine in general (and sushi in particular) that is broad, but shallow. Which makes Mikuni a good place for sushi amateurs or those still not sure whether they really want to be eating raw fish for dinner. As for the pros? Well, read this week's review and decide for yourself.

Also this week, I pay a visit to the newest location of the Denver operation that sorta started the whole-sushi-for-rookies thing, Hapa. It'd been years since I'd set foot inside one of the Hapa locations, and I was surprised to find how much my opinion of the place had changed.

All that, plus news from Cherry Creek, LoDo, Larimer and the 'burbs. Fine it here tomorrow, or pick up a copy of Westword wherever fine newspapers are given away for free...

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