i was riding my bike around downtown denver today looking for a place
to pick up some quick eats. it’s pretty fun riding a bike through the
metropolis in the middle of the day.  i passed a couple of eating
places along the way, but none of them really caught my heart.  as i
ventured out further into the city, i saw a sign for a neraby chinese
restaurant that was voted “best in lodo” [lodo is lower downtown].
that sounded kind of what i was looking for so i rode by really
slowly. then as i pulled into the little courtyard of this chinese
restaurant, i saw this japanese restaurant called yoko’s. i wasn’t
really thinking about japanese food prior to this, but now that i saw
this place, i was thinking nothing but japanese food.  i walked into
the place and was quickly ignored.  there were a few older japanese
women working there and the main one was busy taking care of another
customer who was ready to pay.  she was about 60-70 years old and had
the voice of someone who had smoked for most of those years.  but
through the gravel her voice was distinctively japanese.  i stood
there and waited…. and waited.  finally someone from the kitchen
popped her head out and said please have a seat. i picked one
seat..but didn’t like it so i got up and found a better one, one where
i could see my bike.

the place was indistinctly japanese.  with the exception of the ladies
who worked there… there was nothing japanese about this place. no
buda, no bamboo, no tatami mats, no pictures of mt fuji, just laminate
tables,  vinyl cushioned chairs, and a small painting of a
soaring eagle. this place was really like a diner.  you order your
food from the waitress, someone brings it out to you, then you pay at
the counter.

2 (1)

the menu was a little more japanese, it was printed on a light colored
paper with some kind of design on the background, but the choices blew
my mind.  they had more choices than any other place i’ve been to,
outside of japan.  i make this statement despite that fact that they
did not have sushi.  i know it’s kind of weird for a japanese
restaurant to not have sushi, but if you look at the place, it makes
total sense.  it’s run by a few older women, two in the kitchen, one
at the front counter, and one running around doing other stuff.
probably a bunch of women that had cooked every meal for their
families all their lives, and now that the home is empty and there is
no one to cook for they decided to open a restaurant and cook for
their friends and the rest of us.

1 (1)

i ordered a “salmon on rice”, that came with a salad and some miso
soup. and much like the restaurant where it was made, it was
different. there was no flash to it at all.  i know we all go to
japanese restaurants and expect fancy garnishings and elaborate plates
and bowls, but nothing here. just food, like it was being served to
you by your mother. i wish i had taken a picture of it, in it’s
simplistic beauty.  it was so appealing to just look at it.  the women
probably had no idea how much i appreciated it. out of respect for the
meal, i put away my phone, and closed my eyes as i chewed each and
every bite.