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Tradition Meets High-Tech at Boulder’s Next Japanese Eatery

Koji Tamura opens Osaka’s and debuts an innovative, Americanized okonomiyaki “burger”

In its sleek new Canyon Boulevard spaces, Osaka’s is serving okonomiyaki “burgers,” among other Japanese specialties
Osaka’s [official]

Something innovative yet familiar lands in Boulder on Wednesday, with the opening of Osaka’s. The Japanese eatery at 2460 Canyon Boulevard blends cultures, tastes, and genres.

Japanese businessman Koji Tamura originally imagined the concept for Osaka’s more than 40 years ago, noticing specialty dishes such as sushi and ramen emerging in the U.S. He hoped to introduce okonomiyaki — a savory Japanese pancake made with eggs and cabbage — to the American market. Hence the Osaka burger, Tamura’s invention that uses two soft okonomiyaki as buns with fillings ranging from sukiyaki beef to fried cod fillets. Tamura and his wife tested the idea back home in the Kansai region of Japan, but closed that restaurant upon their recent relocation to Colorado.

Now, take-two of Osaka’s is sleek and unpretentious. Formerly a salon, the contemporary space seats 98 inside, including 18 cushions in a zen-like private room and another 20 on the enclosed patio. Flower arrangements fill the room, which is well-lit by wraparound windows.

Staff members in kimonos bow when greeting diners and delivering plates. But tradition meets a high-tech experience here, and subtle Noodoe blocks rest on each table with icons demarcating requests such as water, order, and check.

The signature hand-held meals are only the beginning of a vast menu of Japanese fare, which will continue to grow, according to Osaka’s General Manager Charles Curtis. The menu is grouped into categories, like “Agemono – fried dishes” and “Yakimono, from our Teppan grill.” In the latter are flower-shaped Hana Shumai filled with pork and veggies, teriyaki chicken, and Japanese barbecue. A beverage menu includes cold roast Silver Canyon Coffee and more than 15 wines, shōchūs, Japanese whiskies, and bottled beers. Handmade desserts range from sweet waffles to Japanese pudding.

A sustainability theme threads through the operation, from omitted straws to biodegradable takeout containers. Already, Tamura and the team are looking to expand, eyeing more real estate in Denver, Los Angeles, and China.

Status: Osaka’s will open daily starting on November 7 from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. for lunch, and from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. for dinner.