Last night, I had a dream. It was raw and never-ending, excessive and overflowing. Enter industrial charcoal chic, mood lights and a sexy soundtrack and a rock star booth complete with curtains, for that backstage pass effect. Sushi and sashimi and sake and tuna tataki ran together, in a stream of consciousness and I awoke smiling but perplexed, wondering what it all meant.
This afternoon, it all became clear and tonight, I got that backstage pass: Friends and Family Night at the newly remodeled Kenichi. I admit I was a little skeptical about the necessity of a new look; Kenichi’s former décor seemed to do the trick and feed the hungry (raw food enthusiasts, that is) so why the need for a total remodel?
Art for art’s sake is a fine use of money and creating a sushi den of iniquity is a worthy cause. Enter strategically lit bottles of alcohol, glowing like objects d’art in the airspace around the bar. Overhead, beams of black plaster stalactite-esque formations hold up the ceiling while curtains rustle around rock star booths throughout the room; one part Goth warehouse, another part speakeasy, many parts provocative.
Kenichi is exciting.
I was joined by my friend Hannah, born and raised in Aspen and home for the holidays. I’m a large raw fish fan – as in, I like to eat large quantities of it whenever the opportunity presents itself. Imagine my delight at the invitation, to preview the tastes of the delectable winter ahead with dinner and hot sake all complimentary and flowing all night long.
Hannah was new to sushi and sashimi; but adventurous. She’s studying at SCAD in Savannah, Georgia, with an artist’s open mind and palette to match. By night’s end, she’d tried Uni and Eel and that ever-surprising zero calorie tempura fried ice cream. Or so we were told by Sho the entertainer
Our sushi chef, Sho, both fed and amused us at the sushi bar. Japanese, by way of San Diego and Lake Tahoe, Sho pulled pyrotechnics, master knife-work and high five-knuckle combos out of his repertoire. The pate was “en flambée”, on fire right before our eyes and rolling right off the tongue. The eel and sweet rice combo was sublime and the fresh, lime infused sushi combinations– “no soy sauce”, Sho cautioned – was divine.
Another close friend joined us after finishing up work; and just in the nick of time. I was holding her seat near and dear to my hip but it was a hot ticket item and truth be told, I was about to buckle under the fiery gaze of a certain hoverer; not like I would have sold it to the highest bidder or anything but…well, just good that she came over when she did. Who needs the evil eye on Friends and Family night?
She was no less enthused by Sho and his magnanimous display of sashimi know-how. We held up our sake cups for a toast and Sho pulled out a miniature rubber pint glass from his chef’s coat pocket, holding it between his thumb and forefinger-nail in salute.
The music got a little louder, as it’s prone to do, and we turned from the bar to look around the room at the big picture. It was packed, laughter and energy moving, no one in a hurry to leave and the night just hitting its stride, around 10.
The rock star booth’s curtains were open but I could imagine just how good everything would taste with them drawn.
Kenichi is open for the winter season starting December 16 and the rock star booth is also open for reservations. Let me know if you need a groupie.
www.kenichiaspen.com, 970-920-2212 for reservations.