Food, Glorious Food!

Maybe it's a fat guy thing, but local cuisine is always a highlight of any trip I go on. So why should my restaurant selection while in Denver be any different?
The very first day of class, all the students are just getting to know each other. When out of the blue, Shirley (mentioned in previous post) says "Laverne and I are going to Benihana tonight. You're all welcome to join us." Well I've heard about this chain of steak houses before, and all of them were positive reviews. So I, of course, agree immediately. As does Norman. So after class the four of us pile in Laverne's rental car and head over.
The food was WONDERFUL. I love these places where they cook the food right in front of you. And it was Norman's first time at a place like this. I can understand that, because he doesn't like seafood. Crazy landlubber.
I think we may have gotten the new guy for our chef though. His hand work (flipping the food or the spatulas everywhere) was a little off. But that didn't stop the food from getting cooked and served. Lobster and shrimp... mmmmmmmmm.
Oh, and I should mention it now before I forget. What is it with prissy water companies? There was some weird, pointless company that had their stuff everywhere in Denver called Voss. You think this stuff was scientifically invented to taste like water, by the shape of the bottle alone. They had it in my hotel room, the snack shop, the training site, and Benihana tried aggressive salesmanship on Norman with it. He was not amused, nor did he end up getting stuck with it on his bill.
Anyhow, marching right along. Two more to go, and I'm trying the good place-bad place-good place strategy. So Benihana was great. Right behind Benihana in a strip mall as a place called India's Restaurant. Now I've never eaten Indian food before. Curry sauce was a completely new one for me. My whole class (minus Norman and Abigail, unfortunately) went there for lunch the last day. I am very glad the teacher picked up the tab, because after finishing my meal, I questioned the point of eating Indian food ever again. The dessert was some steamed dough patties in some generally not-sweet coconut sauce. I stayed safe enough with some barbecued chicken they had. But when you come back to the table and can only describe what you're eating as 'the green stuff with the gray chunks floating in it', the meal should officially be over. The bread was good, but you usually have to work pretty hard to mess up bread. Ever since bread solved the great potato famine in Ireland, it's been a global staple.
(What? That didn't happen!)
Which means last but not least for this post. I'm hunting through a strip mall to find some place to eat. It's near a Safeway, so I have a backup plan should my restaurant hunt prove futile.
At the end of the whole strip mall, I find a Mongolian barbecue. Always hear really good things about Mongolian barbecue. As I'm parking to eat there, I end up in front of another place entirely called Sakura's Special Japanese Restaurant. FYI to those who don't know already, I lived in Japan for 6 years. And if fixed authentically, the food is always awesome.
So I think 'hey, why not' and venture into this establishment. Bad sign right off the bat: there is no one in this place during peak dinner time. So I'm getting the feeling that this is a little mom-and-pop organization that's scraping by on a few loyal customers in the area. I ordered a bento box, which included miso soup, shrimp, brown rice, salad, gyoza, and some sliced and boiled thing that had a really strong kick to it. And when I say strong kick, I couldn't stop myself from twitching for a minute after taking too big a bite of this red boiled stuff. If you know what it is I'm talking about, please enlighten us all in the comments.
Being the nice guy I am and feeling sorry for the little place that's clearly suffering from being around the corner from the Mongolian barbecue, I left a very generous tip. 30% is still considered generous, right?
Well this place was so good, I wanted to invite my whole class to go there for lunch the next day. But everyone had plans. So how do I enjoy their food and entice my busy peers to go there? I brought it back with me! So I got edamame, gyoza, and miso soup from their appetizer menu. MmMmMmMmMmMm. All very good. I brought it back to the classroom with me, and everyone was asking what I had. It even convinced Enrico to go. He had their udon, and said it was wonderful. But the biggest surprise was that when I went back for lunch, I couldn't find a place to sit anywhere! Apparently they have a very small dinner crowd, and a huge long-lasting lunch crowd. So my 'few customers helping them scrape by' theory was shot all to heck.
I REALLY wanted to make it back for a third visit to Sakura's. They had some kalbi (or galbi, I saw it spelled both ways) ribs that were Korean in origin and cooked in an L.A. style. I think the origin of the LA-Korean rib confusion has to do with how butchers cut things here and there, and Korean immigrants in LA adapting. So yeah. But unfortunately my class ended sooner than I'd hoped and it was nowhere near dinner time.
If anyone ventures to the Denver area and wants to enjoy some really great Japanese food, Sakura's is located in the strip mall in the northeast corner of the intersection formed by S Quebec St and E Arapahoe Rd, Englewood, CO. I know, it's technically in Englewood. But it's a very short drive from the DTC.
It's also a short distance from the Double Tree hotel branch I stayed at. I'd write another post about this place, but there's not much to share. It was a run-of-the-mill hotel experience. I liked it, and was treated pretty well. I would've liked a room with a mini-fridge and a microwave, but that's my company's fault. Double Tree can't make up for the depletion of the travel budget at the end of the fiscal year, can it?
Safe travels and pleasant days to everyone.