Restaurant Peek: Kokoro
By Jennifer Nguyen | Asian Avenue magazine

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Kokoro, a family business, not only treats their staff like family, but their customers. Several staff members have worked at the restaurant for more than a decade, including Chef Takase who has been with Kokoro for 20 years. The staff warmly welcomes customers, both first-timers and its loyal bowl club members.

The history of Kokoro begins in Japan with Mareo Torito. In order for Torito to pay his way through college, he worked for the restaurant chain Yoshinoya Beef Bowl. The company later sent him to the United States.

With his restaurant experience, he opened Kokoro in 1986 on Colorado Boulevard. For 28 years, Kokoro has been a staple in Denver’s food scene, priding themselves in “quick, delicious Japanese food.”

In 2001, the Arvada location opened its doors, and now Mareo’s son, Mas Torito, owns and manages both locations.

Designed to comfortably and efficiently host large numbers that usually want a quick meal, Kokoro features long rows of tables and benches that allows space for its guests to sit comfortably as well as giving the staff room to traverse the restaurant with ease, true to Japanese urban eateries.

Also, true to Japanese cuisine, fast food does not have to compromise its quality or authenticity.

Kokoro provides fresh and natural chicken from Red Bird Farms, also owned by the Torito family. They also buy locally from many Colorado-based businesses.

The most popular dish is aptly named the Kokoro Bowl, which features two types of meats – beef and teriyaki chicken – freshly hand-cut steamed broccoli, green beans and steamed rice combined for a simple, easy-to-eat and fulfilling meal.

The shoyu ramen features traditional Japanese egg noodles served with marinated bamboo shoots and sliced pork. Add in a hard-boiled egg, seaweed and scallion, and the bowl is tied together with a hot broth seasoned with a soy sauce mixture.

Stop by for a deal – sushi rolls for only $3 each – during happy hour, which starts on weekdays after 5 p.m. and all day on weekends.

Rack up points with each visit by joining the bowl club. Points can be used for various promotions or simply to earn more food—5,000 points earn a free bowl. As of today, Kokoro has signed up 70,000 patrons to its Bowl Club. So what is next? Torito is looking to expand Kokoro’s social media presence with a mobile app and adding deals on Foursquare.

Nearing 30 years, Kokoro is going strong, continuing to bring Colorado a piece of Japanese culture in every meal.

Denver | 2390 S Colorado Blvd, Denver, CO 80222 | Tel: (303) 692-8752
Arvada | 5535 Wadsworth Blvd, Arvada, CO 80002 | Tel: (303) 432-0600
Hours | Sunday – Thursday 11 am – 9 pm Friday – Saturday 11 am – 9:30 pm