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I finished reporting this story about Berkeley Park Sushi Co. weeks ago. And yet…I. Can’t. Stop. Going. Back. When I sat down to write this, I’d eaten there four times. In the course of editing, I went again. By the time you read this, chances are, I’ve returned. It’s an issue.
Tucked a few doors down from Amethyst Coffee, on West 44th Avenue and Yates Street, Berkeley Park Sushi Co. is the newest iteration of Bradford Kim’s casual Japanese hand roll (temaki) minichain. Like Kim’s original location, Cherry Hills Sushi Co., which opened in 2016, the two-month-old Berkeley Park outpost keeps things simple. There are about 10 hand rolls you can order (although there’s often an off-menu special or two, if you ask); a few sashimi plates; and a chirashi bowl that comes with your choice of three toppings layered over sushi rice with pickled radish and homemade ponzu sauce.
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My obsession: The chirashi bowl topped with spicy tuna, salmon, and cucumber. The cool cucumber provides a welcome crunch and helps tame the chile heat of the tuna and the premium wasabi I’m always happy to pay a $1.75 upcharge for. Plus, it’s a handy way to avoid nori, which tends wallop my palate with its salty seaweed punch. (Yes, I am aware my palate is a delicate flower in this way.)
Like Kim’s second location—Park Hill Sushi Co., which opened on East Colfax Avenue in June—the Berkeley Park restaurant is decorated with a spectacular mural by Denver-based artist Casey Kawaguchi. It also offers an impressive drink list that includes at least 20 sakes, the same number of Japanese craft beers, and eight Japanese whiskies. Unlike Kim’s first two spots, Berkeley Park happens to be less than a mile from my house. Hence the “due diligence,” shall we say?
I’m not the only one making frequent pilgrimages to Berkeley Park; many of the patrons on a given night will likely be return visitors. After all, simple fare in simple surroundings is a recipe for attracting regulars. Plus, the 32-seat, U-shaped sushi counter (there are no tables at any of Kim’s spots) encourages interaction with the well-informed and attentive staff, as well as other diners. That design, coupled with the restaurant’s spare place settings and compostable plates, gives every Sushi Co. a laid-back vibe that makes each visit feel like you’re living in an episode of Japanese Cheers!.
On a recent trip to the Colfax location (you know, comparative reporting), neighbors two seats down tipped us off to a crab roll that wasn’t on the menu. They had been regulars at the original Cherry Hills Sushi Co. before migrating north when the second location opened closer to their homes. This was Kim’s intention: to create inviting neighborhood spots filled with unfussy, high quality food; a friendly, casual ambiance; and amicable regulars. If those regulars keep ordering $22 pours of Nikka from the Barrel whisky (ahem, husband), well, that’s all the better.
Bottom line: If you’re looking for white tablecloths and flashy knife work and a solemn dining experience, Berkeley Park Sushi Co.—or any Sushi Co.—probably isn’t for you. But if you’re looking for a good meal, convivial company, and probably this editor, pull up a seat at the bar. You’ll be among friends.
Berkeley Park Sushi Co. is open Monday to Thursday, 11a.m.–3 p.m. and 4–9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.–3 p.m. and 4–10 p.m.; Sunday 4–8 p.m. 4404 Yates St., 720-379-5261