There are five things I continuously plead to my kids when we go out for dinner: Leave your shoes on, stay in your chair, don’t yell, use your fork, and eat your dinner. On a recent visit to Kobe An in Cherry Creek North, I didn’t mutter any.
Kobe An isn’t new to Denver’s dining scene. The restaurant opened as Boulder’s first traditional Japanese eatery in 1979. After a stop in Lakewood and several other locations, the sushi bar and restaurant settled into the bustling Cherry Creek North neighborhood just over a year ago.
The entrance sits below street-level on Milwaukee Street, but the traditional Japanese ambiance will instantly draw you in. Beyond the sushi bar is the dining room, outlined with Tatami rooms, semi-private areas with low tables that include a sunken area below for your legs—perfect for a meal out with the kiddos.
It’s customary, and respectful, to remove your shoes before sitting down at the table, known as the zashiki. No shoes, no problem. My little ones scampered to their pillow seats and comfortably wiggled around during the entire meal without actually disrupting dinner. It’s no secret that a meal, or really anything, with toddlers isn’t quiet, but the three walls that surrounded our table allowed for their little voices to soar, rather than being hushed as to not interrupt other diners.
Owner Kimie Loeffler, who hails from Kobe, Japan, stopped by our table to share insight on the menu, curated with her family’s recipes. My husband and I opted to share plates of tempura seafood and Japanese curry. My oldest daughter proclaimed that she wanted chicken nuggets, so we chose chicken teriyaki for both girls. The tender pieces of chicken were accompanied by fried rice, fresh strawberries, and my oldest’s favorite, edamame. Just teaching her how to say “eh-dah-ma-me” and separate the pod to find the “beans” was half the fun. And when she decided to dig into the fried rice, Loeffler didn’t even blink when we asked for a fork. She actually brought a perfect child-sized one.
As we slipped on our shoes after dinner, we walked passed two other Tatami rooms occupied by families with young children. Everyone seemed more at ease than a normal night out, likely because dinner at Kobe An is a fun experience for kids (not to mention the food is delicious). And before we could get out of Loeffler’s earshot at the door, the same kiddo who wanted chicken nuggets asked, “We’re coming back here, right?”
Cost: $$$ (Average entrée is $16–$25). Kids meals are $10 and include a soft drink. Children’s menu items include chicken teriyaki, a sushi plate, udon noodles in broth with shrimp tempura, and a ramen burger slider with croquette potato.
Parking: Free parking is available in the alley lot behind the restaurant after 6 p.m. on weekday nights and all weekend.
Try it: 231 Milwaukee St., 303-989-5907, kobean.com