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sushi tour: ai sushi and steak

This is my first week of my radiation treatment. Unlike chemo, radiation is daily instead of once every three weeks. Unlike chemo, radiation lasts all of a few minutes instead of 3 hours. Unlike chemo, radiation doesn’t suck shit nearly as much! There are still going to be side effects, but they will appear later and won’t bring my life to a screeching halt quite like chemo did. At least, I hope they won’t.

in the stairwell of the cancer center

The cancer center is a lovely building and the people are so incredibly friendly and kind. I am in a good mood when I go in, and it’s not forced like it is when I have to deal with a department like General Surgery at the medical center. The other day when I went for my treatment, I wooshed into the dressing room and emerged in less than a minute with a gown on and dumped my stuff in a locker. One of my radiation techs said I was like a superhero, dashing into the changing room and emerging with a gown on faster than anyone. Ha ha! My dreams of superhero status will be realized yet :)

Another thing I like about radiation… I can eat sushi. And eat sushi, I have been. With gusto! as my dear oncologist would say (he didn’t tell me to eat sushi with gusto, he was asking me to breathe with gusto while he listened to my lungs). I had lunch with one of my tele betties in Boulder yesterday at Sushi Tora. I could eat sushi every day for every meal and never tire of it. Never.

my bee-yoo-tee-ful chirashi

Just the day before, I met up with Jeremy at Ai Sushi and Steak at Boulder’s 29th Street mall. It’s a relatively new restaurant in the relatively new pedestrian mall. We thought it looked a little mall-ish which isn’t what you necessarily want when hunting for a good sushi dive.

bad idea: posting photos of sushi in black and white

the modern interior

The place is huge with a section for teppan, a sit down section, and a relatively large sushi bar and booze bar. I’m guessing it seats about 120. I honestly didn’t have high expectations for the place, but immediately noted that our server, a young Japanese woman, was ten times more professional than the dorkus at Sushi Tora and she spoke fluent Japanese (with the sushi chefs). Bonus.

starter salads and jeremy’s lychee martini

sunlight roll and hamachi nigiri

The starter salads were a mix of mi fun (thin rice noodles) with real crab meat, and avocado in a light seasoned rice wine vinegar. Delicious and refreshing on such a warm day (it was 90F in Boulder) – it also cleansed the palate nicely. Since it was happy hour, Jeremy sprang for a lychee martini and we began with a sunlight roll (soft shell crab, eel, avocado, and 2 colors of flying fish roe) and an order of hamachi nigiri. The sunlight roll was great if you like the combo of crunchy, salty, sweet, smooth, creamy – which we do! Excellent quality hamachi.

otoro sashimi

special roll – our request: spicy tuna, spicy scallop, avocado, masago

Next came our otoro sashimi which was $6 a piece. Toro is fatty tuna or the belly of the tuna. Otoro is the fattiest part of the belly (chutoro isn’t as fatty, but is part of the belly). This was quiet amazing and melt-in-your-mouth, but I’ve had better otoro at other places and for less than $6 a piece. The special roll was our own requested combination – a holdover from our favorite sushi joint in South Pasadena. It was well done, but not as good as the original.


end it on tamago

The samurai roll is a shrimp tempura roll with tuna, salmon, eel, and avocado. I liked this roll, but I prefer the sunshine roll to this one. We finally ended with an order of tamago (egg omelette) nigiri and Jeremy had another order of hamachi nigiri. The prices were on par with Sushi Tora and the quality was pretty good – perhaps a half notch below Tora. The service was better despite the “mall-ish” setting and feel of the place. And there always seems to be one sushi chef who loves to flirt with the ladies – he was a charmer for sure. Who doesn’t love a man who offers you a complimentary specialty maki? Unfortunately, he offered it after we had finished our meal and were ready to pop like two fat ticks.

Ai Sushi and Steak
1685 29th St
Boulder, CO 80301

June 10, 2008
$91.65 (including tax, not tip) for two diners
Rating: 88/100 (B+)

Now that we have two restaurants on the tour, I can begin ranking them:

1) Sushi Tora
2) Ai Sushi and Steak

Ai is a close second to Tora. Stay tuned to see if next week’s selection dethrones Tora.

18 nibbles at “sushi tour: ai sushi and steak”

  1. Laura says:

    I live in BFE these days and rarely get sushi. I am currently living vicariously through your photos. :)

  2. Susan at Stickygooeycreamychewy says:

    OMG, that sushi is making me drool! I’m with you – I could eat sushi for every meal of every day. I like it better than ice cream! Both of those restaurants turn out some impressive-looking sushi. I’m so glad that you are able to enjoy it again. Thank God, the chemo is finally over.

  3. manggy says:

    American malls freak me out a little, as the facade is so solid and bare, with just the sign and the door. I keep wondering, where are the windows? There are no buildings constructed that way here, but we don’t have the concerns of harsh weather anyway (even against a reasonably strong typhoon, all the windows etc. are fine).

    Whoa, that eel is calling out to me :) The raw fish still makes me a little nervous itch-wise, so can I have mine with all cooked items? (Wuss.) I’m impressed– not that I would know the first thing about custom sushi, but I didn’t even know you could ask for one :)

  4. peabody says:

    All pretty, can’t eat any of it though. :(

  5. Mrs Ergül says:

    We don’t really have such fanciful names for sushi here! And the presentation is quite extravagant too!

  6. barbara says:

    Fabulous presentation.

  7. Monty says:

    I think you should add Sushi Zanmai to your tour. I lived in Boulder a couple years ago and make it at point to eat there every time I go back. I live in NC now and, ironically, can’t find sushi here that is as good as the options in Boulder.

    Love your site!

  8. Luke says:

    What is your “favorite sushi joint in South Pasadena” ?


  9. RV says:

    I always like to cap off a sushi meal with tamago! My friends always make fun of me, but I love it :)

  10. Christine says:

    Jen – the sushi tour is tha bomb :) I am loving all the food porn, particularly since Tastespotting is now defunct.

    – Do you ever make tamago? I’ve been trying to get mine to look nice but they never do.

  11. White On Rice Couple says:

    What a happy day! I’m excited that you’re able to eat sushi again. The lychee martini sounds great! We’ll make Jeremy that drink when we meet up one day!

  12. Susan says:

    LOVE sushi too but we mostly have it for special occasions these days. Do you like/do uni? That’s a favorite of mine. I know how it is to go without it for long periods. I had to give it up for 9+ months X 3 (not including those added months of nursing…) it was harsh! But now you’ll forever enjoy it that much more :) My best to you and Jeremy.

  13. jenyu says:

    Laura – oh, it’s too bad I can’t share some of this sushi with you! :(

    Susan – thank you, sweetheart. Sushi now symbolizes happiness and freedom when it just symbolized frakking good lookin’ fish before ;) xxoo

    Mark – well, this mall is a pedestrian mall – outdoorsy and very nice. Just that this building is a tad strange… I don’t like the giant box malls though, they are a little freaky. There are lots of great cooked item selections like eel, tempura shrimp, soft shell crab… DELISH!! :)

    Peabody – I know :( I will do the right thing and enjoy it for you, babe :)

    Mrs. E – isn’t it pretty though? I think that’s another reason I love sushi, because it’s so pretty!!

    Barbara – they’re almost too pretty to eat (almost!)

    Monty – hmmm, I hate to tell you this, but Zanmai is not on my happy list. I think they fall far short of what Tora has to offer. I have found their portions to be on the stingy side (while the prices are still high) and the service to be quite poor. You shouldn’t come out of a sushi bar feeling like you got ripped off, which is how I usually feel when I leave Zanmai. :( Next time you’re in Boulder I suggest you head to Sushi Tora for a try :)

    Luke – Oh, our favorite is Ai, in South Pas on Fair Oaks and El Centro. The service can be sloooow – it’s better to sit at the bar. Fumito is the chef. We’ve known him for 15 years or so. Love that guy. We consider him a friend. The fish is so good there.

    RV – yum, I totally agree!!

    Christine – oh, I too am sad about TS!! I’ve only made tamago once and it came out so-so. I have a tamago pan (I know, one of those retarded purchases, but it was ON SALE!). Maybe I should send it to you as you will make better use of it than I have (I’ve used it once).

    WoRC – you guys are THE BOMB!! You are now Jeremy’s best friends :) xxoo

    Susan – you are more sushi than me, hon. I don’t do uni. I have tried, but it is not my thing. I suppose that’s good because if I ate toro AND uni, I would be broke by now ;) Thanks for your sweet wishes!!

  14. shayne says:

    Everything looks so good…except the soft shell crab, makes me swell up like a balloon, bummer :(

  15. Christine says:

    Jen – *on sale* justifies all purchases in life, I think. A tamago pan is not so bad – in fact, it’s far more useful than a magic bullet. Not that I would know or not that I was a compulsive infomercial buyer at one time…

  16. jenyu says:

    Shayne – oh, that is so sad. I’ll just have to eat your share of soft shell crabs because I really don’t want you to suffer! But I’ll share the rest of the food with you :)

    Christine – Well my dear, if you are wanting a tamago pan, I might just ship it to you. Let me know :)

  17. GG says:

    Every single time I go to this restaurant I always order the same thing! The wait staff & chefs even know me as the girl who orders 2 or 3 hamachi collars in one sitting! ah ha ha!! :) What can I say, they’re DELICIOUS!

  18. jenyu says:

    GG – glad you like them :)

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