As a land-locked mountain city, it may surprise you to know just how much Boulder loves its sushi. The city of Boulder alone has more than a dozen sushi restaurants. And they’re fantastic, rivaling the menus of bigger cities and even some restaurants with easy access to fresh fish on the coast.
If you’re craving some fishy rolls of deliciousness, you don’t have to look hard. Here are five sushi restaurants in Boulder that you should try.
1. Hapa Sushi Grill and Sake Bar, 1117 Pearl St.
Hapa is one of the best-known sushi spots in Boulder, largely because of its prominent location on the Pearl Street Mall. It’s also popular for its creative take on Japanese food. Hapa calls its menu “fusion sushi” with a dash of Hawaiian influence. So Hapa takes traditional Japanese dishes and then spins them to have a totally unique flavor. This is ideal for the adventurous eater. Not to mention the names of the rolls are pretty amusing.
The Orgasm Roll is a crowd favorite (go figure). It’s a standard California roll, wrapped in salmon and then broiled in spicy aioli. If you like an Orgasm, why not a Multiple Orgasm? This roll takes the Orgasm and adds cream cheese and fried smoked salmon tempura for extra indulgence.
Hapa, locally owned, is celebrating its 19th year this year. It has three other Colorado locations.
2. Japango, 1136 Pearl St.
Japango is nearly right across the street from Hapa. That might seem like a lot of sushi per block but the two restaurants are totally different. Japango serves traditional sushi and also some modern spins. It has two patios and advertises the biggest selection of Japanese whiskey in the state.
We love Japango’s sushi lunch and great bento box deals. It also offers a killer happy hour (inexpensive hand rolls at lunchtime) and all-you-can-eat nights.
While the food names aren’t as edgy as Hapa, the creative offerings are just as wild. Try the Oyster Shooter, made with oyster (of course), quail egg, a house bloody Mary mix, smelt fish roe, ponzu, Harushika Sake and scallion. Due to the alcohol, this is a sushi shot just for adults.
3. Sushi Zanmai, 1221 Spruce St.
Here’s another downtown sushi option, located just a block off the Pearl Street Mall but only a short walking distance from the other two sushi restaurants. Could Boulder really need yet another sushi spot in a one-block radius? Yes.
Sushi Zanmai has a fun and festive environment. We’re talking evening karaoke, sake bombs, an impressive happy hour and a lively crowd with loud music. Come here to celebrate. Rent a private room for a small party, if you want more privacy. The prices are not bad, either. Especially during happy hour, which you can get sushi rolls for $2.25 each.
4. Sushi Hana on the Hill, 1220 Pennsylvania Ave.
This one’s for the college students (although everyone is welcome, of course). Sushi Hana is located on University Hill, which means it draws a younger University of Colorado crowd. This upbeat and cozy sushi bar also blends in some Hawaiian influences. Sushi Hana is a bit of a hidden gem; it’s easy to miss but add it to your foodie bucket list. Choose between “beginner” rolls to the more adventurous Hana Originals, like the Orange Blossom Roll: white tuna, salmon, chives and mandarin oranges. Lots of flavors pack into that tiny roll.
5. Sushi Bistro Tasuki, 1575 Folsom St.
This Japanese restaurant prides itself on authenticity. Sushi Bistro Tasuki is the real deal that even has a solid vegetarian list, like sushi made with cooked squash, mushrooms and fermented soy. You’ll also find the standard rolls you’d expect in an authentic sushi joint, served in a more peaceful environment than some of the restaurants downtown or on the Hill.
Other Great Sushi Restaurants in Boulder
Kasa Japanese Grill and Bar, 1468 Pearl St.: Yup, another downtown Japanese restaurant. This one has a lengthy list of sushi offerings. The atmosphere here is one-of-a-kind. The restaurant is basically an art installation of tons of Japanese umbrellas covering the ceiling and accenting the decor throughout.
Izakaya Amu, 1221 Spruce St.: Downtown Boulder is obsessed with sushi; what can we say? This one’s super small and easy to miss. It’s all about tradition (take off your shoes before you sit at the counter or in one of the back tea rooms). And sake. Don’t miss the sake. In fact, “Izakaya” means “stay sake shop,” which is like a sake pub.
Motomaki, 1600 28th St. in the Twenty Ninth Street Mall: Motomaki does sushi differently. It serves giant, burrito-sized maki sushi rolls. Try the Kalbi: Korean-style shredded beef, kimchi, cucumber, sesame bean sprouts and avocado smothered in a spicy jalapeno dressing.