Nobu Matsuhisa has made a name for himself with a slew of sushi restaurants dotted around the world. One of his newest endeavors is in an historic Victorian house in Aspen. Its quaint exterior belies the size of the restaurant, made possible by a clever digging way down into the earth to create the reservations-only main dining room.
Though it happens to be the hippest venue in town, Matsuhisa has culinary credentials to match. The menu has cooked specialities as well as sushi, and you’ll be well rewarded if you put yourself in the hands of the accomplished servers (or go with a friend who is a frequent patron, as we were lucky to do).
We started with shishito peppers, which can be spicy but are usually low on the Scoville heat scale. I’ve found these on the RA Sushi menu in Kansas City, but they are not readily available at most sushi restaurants. They don’t have a ton of flavor, but it’s a more interesting starter than the basic edamame.
Crispy Rock Shrimp with spicy sauce came out next, and we all attacked the bowl with our chopsticks before moving onto yellowtail jalapeno, beautifully fanned slices of fish and thin slices of jalapeno with a ponzu sauce, and cucumber salads with crab. The latter two dishes were light and refreshing, a stark contrast to the rich Italian dinner we still digesting from the night before.
Then came the sushi, a beautiful platter of spicy tuna rolls with crispy rice, lobster rolls, shrimp tempura rolls and a caterpillar rolls, made all the more tasty by the addition of real wasabi root.
We topped off the meal with banana “egg rolls”and mochi balls, homemade ice cream enveloped in mochi rice wrappers. It’s an acquired taste, but these were better than others I’ve had.
If you didn’t plan in advance and can’t get a reservation, the upstairs (which is street level) has a limited menu but is open to walk-in traffic. And the outside patio draws the crowds during warmer weather. However you make it happen, this belongs on any food lover’s must-try list.