Chicken karaage and waffles at Ototo. | Photo by Linnea Covington

Weekend Brunch: Ototo Offers a Japanese Flourish To Breakfast

Need brunch plans? We got you.

BY Linnea Covington


It’s no secret Denver loves brunch. Each Friday we’ll divulge the newest and best brunches around. Not only will we highlight our favorite spots for all your brunching needs, but also add lists of things you crave. So pour a mimosa, grab a cup of coffee, and get ready to eat.

The Pearl Street Farmers Market on Sunday just got a whole lot tastier now that Ototo Den has opened for brunch. It’s the first time the Japanese spot has offered the meal, and it’s only available one day a week. 

Owned by Toshi and Yasu Kizaki’s Den Corner Restaurants, the parent company for Sushi Den and Izakaya Den, Ototo opened in 2010. While just as tasty as the brothers’ original spot, it’s more casual and a great component for those looking to dine after buying baskets of tomatoes, leeks, and mushrooms.

A rainbow of sushi can always be found at Ototo, no matter the meal. | Photo by Linnea Covington
A rainbow of sushi can always be found at Ototo, no matter the meal. | Photo by Linnea Covington

At midday the whole place fills with soft sun and wafting smells from the market, an ever-changing bevy of fresh produce and cooking meats. Windows open up to the street, which is blocked off from car traffic, but heavy with shoppers. It’s the perfect spot for people watching while you dine.

In a way, the new service is also a homecoming for the restaurant, which literally means “little brother.” After closing in 2020 during the pandemic, Ototo didn’t get on its feet until just last year. We dived into the simple menu of Japaneses delights, many sticking to the savory side of breakfast, and enjoyed Sunday brunch at the darling restaurant.

Eat the Menu

Ototo specializes in sashimi, whole fish, noodles, and robata-style tapas, the Japanese style of slow grilling food on sticks. But for brunch, there’s so much more to enjoy, including a bright, sunlit space and a casual, morning meal sort of vibe. 

Food wise, on the brunchy side, Chicken and Waffles ($18) won’t overwhelm the table like many iterations of the southern dish do. This lighter version features three triangles of house-made matcha waffles topped with crispy chicken karaage. In lieu of sticky syrup, on the side is a compote of strawberry and local hot honey.

Miso-laced salmon collar. | Photo by Linnea Covington
Miso-laced salmon collar. | Photo by Linnea Covington

The Shokupan French Toast ($16) is the other dish leaning toward breakfast. The star of the plate comes in the form of Japanese milk bread spiced with cinnamon. Yuzu-infused maple syrup can be drizzled along the top, coating the chantilly cream for a decent morning bite. 

Those two plates make the main brunch foods, the rest lean toward a more traditional Japanese breakfast. Order the Shake Kama ($18), a rich dish of miso-marinated salmon collar served with lemon and namasu, a type of condiment featuring light pickled vegetables. Sushi and sashimi need a place on the table, and a side of Aburi Toro Nigiri ($16) came with two delectable pieces that surprisingly didn’t clash with the aforementioned waffles.  There’s also a handy bento box ($30), chockfull of miso cod, karaage, beef stir fry, and various sushi pieces.

Drink Up

The brunch cocktails prove just as light and elegant as the space housing Ototo. Order the Strawberry Yuzu Spritz ($14). With fresh strawberry, bright yuzu, Aperol, sparkling wine, and soda water, it’s a refreshing tipple after a market visit. 

A Shochu Bloody Mary ($14) rifts on the classic cocktail with Kinjo Shiro Shochu, shishitos, and a house-made, slightly spicy Japanese tomato mix. If you want to keep drinks also in the brunch realm, the Espresso Martini ($14) has no Asian twists, it’s a simple, boozy mixture spiked with cold brew. Which is the only way to score coffee at Ototo, though tea is readily available. 

The bagel and lox at Ototo aren't what you think. | Photo by Linnea Covington
The bagel and lox at Ototo aren’t what you think. | Photo by Linnea Covington

Don’t Miss This Ototo Specialty

The ‘Bagel’ N Lox ($16) may be the best take on a bagel with cream cheese and salmon out there. It looks just like a tasty normal bagel topped with all the goodies. However, one bite confirms the only thing “normal” about the dish is the cured fish on top.

To make the base, the chefs use rice formed into a bagel shape, which gets crisped on the outside and left soft and chewy on the inside. On top is a soft tofu spread to mimic cream cheese, which gives the dish a nice tang without the gut bomb. Slipped under the lox, thin slices of cucumber nestle in, while the outer layer features slivered red onion, capers, and sprigs of fresh dill. 

Visit Ototo for brunch on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and for dinner service Wednesday through Sunday from 4:30 to 9:30 p.m. 1501 S. Pearl St., Denver,

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Linnea Covington

Linnea Covington is the managing editor of DiningOut. She comes to us with a long background in food, restaurant and drinks journalism. Over the last two decades she’s written for tons of publications including Denver Post, Washington Post, Forbes Travel Guide, 5280 Magazine, New York Magazine, New York Times, Time Out New York and more.