In August of 2014, Chef Miki Hashimoto, opened Tokio, a small, modern Japanese eatery offering authentic ramen, sushi, traditional bincyo-tan Japaenese charcoal grilled items, and small plates.
Prior, Hashimoto owned and operated Japon, a sushi restaurant he ran in Denver’s Washington Park neighborhood for 18 years, and his inspiration for Tokio which took it a step further with authentic ramen in the new, and budding Prospect neighborhood.
Upon entering, I’m intrigued by Tokio’s open floor layout, with tall ceilings. A second floor loft-style overlooks the bottom of the small, 60-seat restaurant and the kitchen is open so you can see the sushi bar, the binchotan charcoal grill, and the ramen-making all in action. Looping in an “L” shape, the sushi bar is a great place to sit and watch the chefs in action, while also being tucked away from the noise.
The space has hanging red lanterns, and a long wooden community table down the center of the restaurant and hues of slate, plum, and tan emulate the restaurant and the design came from Kanji Ueki – a renowned designer known for his work in designing Apple’s retail stores. The chairs and benches are a plum leather color and natural wood elements from the ceiling to the tables, fill for a traditional Japanese Sakaba bar.
To start, with libations, I tried a sake flight (they have 16) which gives you a good opportunity to try the variety of styles they offer.
The small plates on the menu range from blistered shishito peppers with a ginger sauce ($8) gyoza’s ($7) and whole squid with ginger sauce ($12).
We enjoyed the Yakitori (chicken thighs with welsh onion) are made over the bincyo-tan Japanese charcoal grill, which are very succulent and great small dishes to split or start your evening with before ramen. It’s lightly smoked, which I appreciated that is was a hint of that charcoal, but not overpowering.
By offering a large variety of ramen – eight to be exact – they also offer vegetarian ramen, the ramen air. Blended with soy milk, miso, sweet potatoes, tofu, and pureed pumpkin, the flavor was strong and hits you with a punch even devoid of the meat.
We rounded out the evening with mochi (rice cake made of mochigome, a short-grain japonica glutinous rice) with fresh mint and berries, a perfect Japanese, sweet morsel to try after the savory dishes.
Perhaps my only lament, was the loud poppy music playing in the restaurant. Since the space is small, the noise carries, and although it makes for a fun environment, it’s also a restaurant and worthwhile to have a conversation together.
With Hashimoto’s experience, although they do offer sushi, it’s a great place to get authentic ramen which I definitely recommend.
Note: Thanks to Tokio for hosting us and providing the wonderful service, and meal.