Editor’s note: This is part of The Know’s series, Staff Favorites. Each week, we offer our opinions on the best that Colorado has to offer for dining, shopping, entertainment, outdoor activities and more. (We’ll also let you in on some hidden gems).
Anthony Bourdain warned diners in his famous “Kitchen Confidential” book to usually avoid sushi spots on Monday because most restaurants use old fish from the weekend.
But at Denver Poke Company, a truck rolls up every day to deliver fresh, sushi-grade fish. I have personally witnessed this, since I used to work in the office next door. And it quickly became my go-to lunch spot and favorite poke restaurant in town.
“We basically copy what barbecue restaurants do, where we order and cook as much for that day, and if you run out, you run out,” owner Anh Nguyen said. “It keeps the integrity of the quality.”
Nguyen was a sushi chef for most of his career, previously working for Sushi Den and Kenichi in Aspen, but after starting a family, he was done with the long restaurant hours. After visiting Hawaii a few times, Nguyen was inspired to bring poke bowls back to Denver, but with a Japanese twist, focusing on the quality of the fish. He was ahead of the trend and opened Denver Poke Co. in 2017, when there were only a couple of other poke businesses in town.
“When I made the bowls, I wanted our fish and rice to be the star, just like a sushi restaurant,” Nguyen said.
Denver Poke Co. has a sort of Chipotle-like setting with all the ingredients, like crab salad, tobiko and sweet onions, laid out in front of you to build your own bowl. Or you can choose from one of the eight signature bowls, like my favorite spicy tuna or the popular chili mango salmon. Every bowl costs $14.95 because Nguyen wanted to give diners an affordable way to enjoy sushi-quality meals.
“Frozen fish tastes like water, but because we get ours fresh every day, you don’t need to mask the flavor with a ton of spicy mayo,” Nguyen said. “Our bowls are intended to be eaten without it, although we did add it as an option recently.”
I am always searching for a light meal to enjoy for lunch because I hate going back to work feeling groggy after eating a big burger or something fried, and Denver Poke Co. is the perfect solution. And because of the variety of fish and toppings, you can basically have a different meal every day.
On a sunny day, I like to bring my poke bowl to the Platte River and imagine I’m sitting on the beach in Hawaii.
Denver Poke Company is open 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Saturday. It is located at 1550 Platte St., Suite C, Denver; 303-955-1687; denverpokecompany.com
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