You have fallen down a Japanese rabbit hole of foodie pleasure after entering the drab, white painted brick building. The cheerful hostess takes you to your massive flagstone topped table as the kitchen crew shouts “Iresshaimase” to welcome you. The chairs are padded logs and the décor goes beyond any Japanese restaurant in the U.S. The soft amber glow of the stick and paper light fixtures set the mood for unique dining. This is Denver’s eatery that Zagat’s 2001 issue proclaims the best décor in the U.S and the fifth best Japanese food too!
Welcome to the realm of Gaku Homma, owner and chef, a believer in Japanese country style food. Opened in 1996 the restaurant draws the “beyond sushi” crowd to dine on entrees like nabemono, or donburi, a meal of fish, meat, and vegetables served over a rice bowl. With all the accolades for his food chef Homma is sometimes overlooked by his customers for other meaningful work. He is the founder of A.H.A.N, and Aikido Nippon Kan.
Aikido Nippon Kan is a dojo (school for Aikido) founded in 1978. Chef Homma is the last live-in students of the founder of Aikido- Morihei Ueshiba. This Denver dojo has taught over 25,000 students in the last forty years. As impressive as his dojo’s impact on the community is, A.H.A.N.-Aikido Humanitarian Active Network, founded by chef Homma is even more impressive. According to the A.H.A.N. website, chef Homma founded A.H.A.N. “to extend the philosophy of Aikido into the world beyond the dojo”.
A lengthy list of A.H.A.N.’s accomplishments includes:
Feeding over 76,000 meals to those in need in the Denver area.
Built twelve learning centers and orphanages in Bangladesh, Nepal, Thailand, Myanmar, and the Philippines.
Used computer redistribution project.
Various projects in sixteen countries too numerous to mention here.
In my travels I have met many a restaurateur with a big heart and big projects, but this is one of the biggest ever. The restaurant business often not profitable making it all the more impressive at what Chef Homma has done. It’s one thing to make a large impact in your home town but to spread the love over sixteen countries is staggering.
If your travels take you to Denver you will find Domo convenient to most anywhere after landing at Denver International Airport. Domo is close to anyplace in downtown. If you are heading up to the mountains it is easy to route your trip with a stop at this famous eatery I believe is Denver’s best Japanese restaurant.
Domo will deliver a meal to remember at this cultural oasis in downtown Denver’s west side. As the last of your sake bottle disappears your experience is a blur of brightly painted side dishes, great food and rustic Japanese surroundings that beg for a repeat visit soon. Exiting to the gravel parking lot you know you will be back to help this chef with a big heart give back to the world.
If You Go:
Lunch: Monday–Sunday 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Dinner: Monday–Sunday p.m. to 10 p.m.
Address: 1365 Osage Street, Denver, CO 80204
RTD light rail stop Colfax at Auraria-D,H, and F lines