High Rollers

The inexorable rise of mountain-town sushi

A fried shrimp roll    

A recent New York Times study of mercury in tuna showed... ah, whatever. Raw fish still delivers a low-cholesterol, high-protein energy kick. And thanks to FedEx, and the ongoing influx of tourist dollars into mountain towns, sushi has replaced stuffed pizza as the high-altitude dinner of choice.

1. Blu-Kitchen
JACKSON, WYOMING
The fourth hit restaurant in a decade fromformer Park City chef Jarrett Schwartz. His menu for Blu, which opened last September, has cooked shareable nibbles like pan-seared red deer competing for attention with the raw fare. ORDER: Truffled tuna with ponzu. AVOID: The front half of the restaurant, which isn't as intimate as the cavelike rear. 307-734-1633

2. Sushi Rei
MAMMOTH LAKES, CALIFORNIA
What you'd expect of a raw bar run by snowboarders: $5 handroll-and-PBR happy hours, ladies'-night specials, and Little Tokyo meets X Games decor. But don't be put off by the party vibe. Chef Jaison LeRoy is as fanatical about fish as he is powder. ORDER: Fried snow-crab-and-eel-stuffed Saigon Bombs. AVOID: Periodic DJ-backed dance parties. 760-924-8140

3. The Matterhorn
STOWE, VERMONT
Yes, the best fish in Stowe is found at a honky-tonk pizza joint. The Matterhorn's wet-T-shirt contests may be history, but itinerant Japanese snowboarding chef Baba's selection has picked up the slack. ORDER: The Viagra Roll (shrimp tempura, crab stick, avocado, eel, flying fish roe). AVOID: Insulting Baba, who insults back. matterhornbar.com

4. Matsuhisa
ASPEN, COLORADO
The original high-end sushi joint in the most excessive mountain town, Matsu' is one of celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa's 21 worldwide locations. Which is to say it's an overpriced chain. ORDER: $10 California roll AVOID: Goldie Hawn. matsuhisaaspen.com

5. Honga's Lotus Petal
TELLURIDE, COLORADO
Honga's has remained Telluride's most popular locals' spot for nearly two decades. Chef/owner (and tele-skier extraordinaire) Honga Im Hopgood's extensive menu of nigiri and maki features a dozen types of fish. ORDER: The inside-out Kantmakem Roll, with jalapeño and tuna. AVOID: That second deceptively potent mojito. hongaslotuspetal.com

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