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Outside the Colorado Plaza Towers at 17th and California streets, a sizeable lunch-hour line extends from a small blue cart. Unlike the typical inhabitants of queues, however, these downtowners appear patient, even cheerful. This marvel is the handiwork of Britt Bisk, the owner and culinary mastermind behind Yatai, a sushi cart that brings the Japanese specialty back to the street.
Yatai’s sushi, however, is anything but humble. The generous hand rolls are perfect for no-fuss noshing (not unlike handheld burritos), and although the convenient presentation is a plus, the creative recipes and refreshing prices are the real allure.
Bisk, who studied with local sushi chef Keiho Omine of the late Takis and Sushi Heights, hand-makes her distinctive recipes to order. When available, I almost always choose the pesto hand roll, a vibrant combination of salmon, basil pesto, walnuts, avocado, and cucumber spiraled into a sheet of nori. If you’re not a pesto fan, you can’t go wrong with Yatai’s everyday selection of five or six signature fish rolls for $6.50 each, with ingredients ranging from dried apricot to toasted coconut to marinated shiitake mushrooms.
And although sushi might overshadow Yatai’s other street fare, don’t miss the crunchy spring rolls (two for $6), fresh sashimi bowls ($8.50), and various miso soups ($2 to $5.50). For those with a sweet tooth, the chia seed and coconut milk pudding is a clean-eater’s bliss.
If you’re not already thinking about lining up, keep in mind that 10 percent of Yatai’s proceeds go to a rotating roster of hunger- and poverty-focused nonprofits. Next noonday (or later, to avoid the wait), pause at the juncture of refinement and modesty, where fresh ingredients and al fresco eats make way for virtue. 17th and California streets, 720-443-1658
Pesto Hand Roll $6.50
Two Spring Rolls $6
Sushi Hand Roll/Spring Roll Combo $8.50
Miso Soup $2
Chia Seed Pudding $2
Tip: Yatai is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. during the warmer months. Menus are posted on Facebook, as are any closures.