Off the Beaten Path

FEATURES: What it’s like to work at Domo, one of Denver’s premier Japanese restaurants. By Nick Virnich.

Off the beaten path, in the desolate neighborhood of Lincoln Park near Downtown Denver is a rustic looking building that does not look like it has much to offer. Once you enter inside however, you will get a glimpse of the vibrant nature the place possess. You begin to marvel at the Japanese art pieces and crafts sitting on the wall, and you have now realized – this is not what you had anticipated. Finally, you are seated at your table as you hear the word irasshaimase (いらっしゃいませ) shouted enthusiastically from the kitchen. Welcome to Domo!

After I returned from my month-long trip in Japan, one of the things I had missed the most was the food. Like most people, one of my favorite elements of culture is cuisine, and through my family, traveling abroad and experiencing local restaurants I have gotten a taste of different ethnic foods. Some of my favorite include Thai, Vietnamese, Lebanese and Italian.

It is the closest thing compared to what you will eat in Japan.

However, my favorite ethnic food remains Japanese for its array of diverse and flavorful dishes. Compared to most American cities, the Japanese food scene in Denver is somewhat limited, due to the small Japanese population in Colorado. Most of these places typically serve mediocre, Americanized sushi rolls or teriyaki bowls. Although, there are a select few places in the Denver area that offer what I consider authentic, as someone who has been to Japan.

I think the place that stands out the most is Domo Japanese Country Foods. While the restaurant just looks like an old building on the outside, inside you will be able to witness, taste and experience the true cultural elements of Japanese culture. From their wide variety of ramen and donburi, it is the closest thing compared to what you will eat in Japan.

Just three months ago, I applied to work there, and I was lucky enough to earn a job at this amazing restaurant. It has been an amazing experience being a part of the diverse community and establishing relationships with not just Japanese and Japanese-American people, but chefs from Burma and Thailand, as well.

It is also amazing to see the joy of the customers who come to eat there. Every time I interact with the people, they always seem to be so astonished by everything Domo has to offer – not just the food, but the atmosphere and experience itself.

What makes Domo unique as well, is its background. The founder of the restaurant and Aikido Dojo Homma Sensei, is a well-known Japanese chef from Akita prefecture, and a former student of Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of the Japanese martial art Aikido. Throughout his life, he has written various novels on Japanese cuisine and Aikido.

He has also contributed to humanitarian work and community work with his non-profit Aikido institution all across the globe, using a portion of the profits from the restaurant for different international causes, as well as serving meals to the homeless on a frequent basis.

They have a variety of different noodle bowls with different broths, meats and vegetables, along with an array of various donburi (rice) bowls. The options are limitless!

Finally, one of my favorite parts about working at Domo of course, is getting to try the different foods on their menu. Some of my favorite dishes include the Unagi (eel) Donburi, the Pork Shoyu Ramen, and the Chicken Katsu (breaded cutlet) with curry. They have a variety of different noodle bowls with different broths, meats and vegetables, along with an array of various donburi (rice) bowls. The options are limitless!

Earning a job at Domo, has been a big chapter of my life. It has made me a more diligent worker, more open minded, and it has expanded upon my I hope to remain a part of the Domo staff for as long as I can and continue to experience this amazing job.