Japanese BBQ Restaurants in Denver - food specialties

Top 7 Best Japanese BBQ Restaurants in Denver in 2024

You might used to or at least expected to see another piece about the nature around Denver, or some type of entertainment me and my wife just discovered.

But I wanted to write about something simple – fast food restaurants. And now you may wonder, why would I write about that?

Well, it’s not just about any restaurants, not about a typical American style, but about Japanese cuisine. Did you know that there are many Japanese BBQ places in Denver? I mean, I knew about a few, but I recently realized there are tens of them all around the city.

For me, it was like an invitation. So we spent some time testing these places, to select the favorites.

And here they are, we’ll start with 7 of our favorite Japanese BBQ restaurants. We will share our thoughts, and more details about the place(ambient, menu..), including the overall impression.

If you are planning to visit the city for the first time, I made sure that you won’t miss any of the most popular attractions. Also, I managed to fit these restaurants, so that you can enjoy while taking a break. You can download my daily guide here.

7. Chubby Cattle

Overall Impression – 8.5/10

When we entered, it felt just right. It wasn’t only about the looks but the kind of welcome that made us comfy.

The highlight was the food belt that kept it at the perfect temp. You could pick whatever caught your eye as it slid by, all fresh and ready to enjoy.

The best part of our visit was definitely the all-you-can-eat BBQ. We were super excited to see American, Australian, and Japanese A5 Wagyu beef on offer.

Cooking up these little chunks of top-notch beef right at our table was an amazing adventure. Every morsel of Wagyu cooked up just right, turning into a mouthful of rich, tasty goodness that really matched its fame.

We found out about the $28 yearly membership that comes with special benefits at all Chubby Cattle spots. We didn’t join right then, but the idea of trying out different tastes and plates at each place seemed like a great adventure for next time.

The drink choices were spot on. We went with Japanese beer and sake, which matched up great with the bold tastes of the BBQ and hotpot. It was like they were made for each other.

Looking back on our time at Chubby Cattle, there was plenty to enjoy. But one thing that could be better was how long we waited for a table.

The place is a hit, so it’s busy, especially when everyone wants to eat. We ended up waiting more than we thought we would to sit down. It’s not a huge problem, it happens at busy spots, but it’s good to remember if you’re thinking of going. It’s a bit too expensive also.

6. Hasu Sushi & Grill

Overall Impression – 8/10

 

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Hasu Sushi & Grill welcomes you with a warm and friendly feel. You can find it at 250 Steele St #104 in Denver, CO, a place that’s not hard to spot. Right when you walk in, you’ll feel at ease. It’s great for sitting down to eat or grabbing food to go, fitting whatever way you like to dine.

Hasu’s menu was like a box of Japanese and Asian delights.

For starters, we went for the Chicken ($15.50) and Salmon ($18.95) teriyaki. Both were done up nicely, with the sauce hitting that spot just right. The chicken was soft, and the salmon? Just how it should be.

Next on the course was Tempura Shrimp & Vegetable ($15.50). It was a crunchy treat. The batter was airy, making sure the shrimp and veggies were fresh.

And the winner of the evening was Chicken Kats. Crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside, and served with a spicy sauce that was the cherry on top. I am sure about one thing – I will come here again to enjoy this same meal.

While eating at the restaurant was mostly great, it seems like takeout orders might not be up to par. I wanted to check if I could order from home some other time, and then I found people complaining about their service being different from the one I witnessed there. So, I will reconsider it.

5. Ototo

Overall Impression – 9.5/10

 

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OTOTO’s dedication to real Japanese cooking hits you right away. With its fresh look, it offers a cozy dining spot that we couldn’t wait to check out. It’s all about getting up close with great food and good vibes.

The menu really shows off what the Robata grill can do. Cooking with bincho-tan charcoal is an old-school way that gives the food a special taste. We were super pumped to give it a go and see what all the fuss was about. It’s all about that authentic grill flavor.

Off the robata grill, we tucked into a bunch of small plates, each packed with a taste that showed off the top-notch stuff they use.

The sashimi? Super fresh. Every piece was cut just right, giving us that awesome taste only fresh fish can do.

The fish we had was really good, cooked just right and you could tell the chef knew what they were doing. And those noodles were the perfect way to wrap up our dinner.

I honestly have nothing bad to say about this place. I was checking on some reviews, most being positive, and a few about issues related to slow service. Well, if you are planning to visit this place, be sure to make a reservation on time, and be patient.

4. Gyu-Kaku

Overall Impression – 9/10

Grilling your own food right at the table makes eating out a lot more fun and hands-on. Just as we experienced at Chubby Cattle.

The place is open every day from noon until 9:30 in the evening, but make sure you get there before the last seating at 9:30. Plus, they have a Happy Hour every day from noon to 6:30 PM.

Gyu-Kaku offers a really big menu that’s got something for everyone.

We noticed the “Adventures in Niku” menu that’s not always there, and it’s got some special stuff.

They’ve got all sorts of menus – one for individual dishes, one for full courses, one for the fancy A5 Wagyu beef (but they don’t have a lot of it), and even a Premium All You Can Eat deal that goes from noon to 8 PM.

So, a tough decision for us.

We were really drawn to the idea of cooking our own food at the table, so we chose the “For 2 people” package. It felt like a great choice to try out a little bit of everything that Gyu-Kaku has on the menu.

After all, we were there to review the place, not just to enjoy it (I know you are rolling your eyes right now!).

It is a fantastic option for those wanting to enjoy a full range of flavors. You get a lot for $65.

There’s no major issue that would stop me from returning, but I did notice some wear and tear. The visible damage on the walls and floors might bother some people. It needs a refresh.

3. Blue Sushi Sake Grill

Overall Impression – 10/10

Blue Sushi Sake Grill

We began our meal with Miso Soup and Coconut Crab Soup.

The miso soup was perfect – it was soothing and had the ideal mix of tofu and seaweed. The coconut crab soup was an unexpected treat.
Honestly, I wasn’t so interested, but my wife ordered it, and then I had to try it. ( Yes, we are always arguing about food..)

The appetizer round began with Crispy Brussels Sprouts, and they didn’t disappoint. They had a great texture, crispy on the outside and soft inside. And the sauce was so good. We’d visit again just for that.

We were really taken by the Itchy Salmon on the specialty nigiri menu, which was quite a deal at $10.50 for two pieces. It was a burst of flavors with its spicy crab blend and succulent baked Atlantic salmon, all topped off with serrano and a splash of ponzu sauce.

Every mouthful was a delightful mix of spicy, savory, and slightly tangy tastes.

But the highlight of our dinner was the Truffle Salmon from the specialty sashimi selection. Priced at $17 for five pieces, it was a true display of finesse and taste.

The freshness of the Atlantic salmon combined with the luxurious truffle ponzu sauce was a gastronomic delight. The earthiness of the truffle was a perfect match for the salmon’s natural richness, making each slice a sumptuous indulgence that felt worth the splurge.

Honestly, not a single flaw in my sight here. I checked the reviews on popular platforms and saw some people complaining about the service, but it was just fine. I mean, if the place is crowded, I am fine with waiting for a couple more minutes.

The best Japanese restaurant by now for sure.

2. Sushi Bay 17

Overall Impression – 9/10

Sushi Bay 17

While still under the impression of Blue Sushi Sake, I expected nothing less from this one.

The restaurant had a really inviting vibe, just right for relaxing on a Friday night.

We kicked things off with the Yellowtail Jalapeño and Salmon Carpaccio from the sushi bar, each costing $13. I decent choice I would say. My wife agrees (well, we don’t argue all the time).

For the main dish, we chose the Sushi Deluxe, priced at $25, and the Sashimi Deluxe, which was $30.

The sushi was incredibly fresh, practically dissolving on the tongue, while the sashimi was cut thick and packed with flavor.

We just had to try some of their signature rolls. The Spicy Crunchy Rolls were everyone’s favorite, and they really lived up to their name. (I did my homework by checking on reviews).

The service really made our visit better. The staff were super attentive and nice, making sure we had everything we needed without crowding us. It was just the right mix of care and space.

And about the reviews, I once again saw most complaints being about deliveries. I will have to test it before judging it myself.

1. Sushi Kazu

Overall Impression – 10/10

 

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Sushi Kazu has a warm, inviting feel to it, which is even more special near the sushi bar. It’s really cool to see Kazusan, who owns the place, preparing the food.

He’s originally from Osaka, and you can tell by the taste of his dishes. It’s genuinely Japanese, something you don’t often come across in Colorado.

We jumped right into the main part of the menu with some Nigiri. The Tuna, Yellowtail, and Salmon were all $3.50 a piece and tasted super fresh, like the sea. The Eel and Squid were the same price and just as good, really showing off how Kazusan knows his way around different flavors and textures.

We went for the Handrolls for something a bit more interactive – the Spicy Tuna and Spicy Salmon, priced at $5 each. They hit the spot with just the right mix of spicy.

The Sashimi platter, picked by the chef for $25, was a standout during our meal. It had a variety of the freshest fish of the day, which let us appreciate the unique taste of each one.

However, if you are new to Japanese cuisine, keep in mind that it’s quite different from ours. Since the chef is from Japan, he simply tries to bring the same flavors, and some people here might not like it.

The reason I am writing this is because I saw a few negative comments from people who said that there are better sushi places around. Well, the point is that it is all highly individual.

Most restaurants will try to adjust the spices and flavors at least a little bit to bring them closer to us.

But that is the reason why I like this one. It seems the chef simply doesn’t care. He is making food in the same way as he would in Japan. A bonus point for me for sure.

Final Thoughts

There you have it, our story about good Japanese spots around Denver.

It was quite a journey considering that we fitted all these places in a few days. I have to add that this was the main reason why we weren’t focused solely on BBQ in each restaurant. It would be too much to eat twice a day or even more.

As you can see, all impressions are quite positive, with two winners in the end, the Sushi Kazu and Blue Sushi Sake Grill.

But this is not a final list. We are planning to research more. And who knows, we might review some of these again, and change our opinion.

Therefore, stay with us to discover new interesting places in Denver.

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