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Pinned between a Cricket Store and a Blackjack Pizza in a down-market mall on 75th Avenue and Sheridan Boulevard, tiny Sakana Sushi & Ramen is not what you’d expect from a suburban Japanese restaurant. Rather than decorating the space in the usual way, with bamboo, rice paper, black granite, and neon Kirin signs, chef-owners Kazu Fujiwara and Norika Kanaoka employed chic reclaimed wood, slate, and mismatched light fixtures.
Those delicate, slightly bohemian touches extend to the food: A house salad ($4) unexpectedly includes haricots verts and a handful of boutique greens; Fujiwara and Kanaoka have rethought the ramen as well. Instead of serving the deeply flavored miso ramen ($9), pictured, in the conventional way with pork that has been cooked to death to flavor the broth and then shredded back into the soup, the chefs carefully truss a small cylinder of pork butt, season it with soy and mirin, and roast it to an ideal tenderness. The warm pork slices then garnish the tangy-spicy soup, along with a pile of thinner-than-paper scallions.
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Unlike ice-cream parlors or cafes that serve mostly soup, Sakana has wisely covered the bases when it comes to weather-appropriate food. On an unusually damp and chilly July evening, we noticed that no one was eating sushi and that every table was tucking into large bowls of hearty ramen.
7520 Sheridan Blvd., Westminster, 303-429-6646