Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Douzo: Sampling Their Menu

Prior to the Wine Spectator Grand Tour, I knew I needed to have dinner, to have a full stomach before facing off against 200 wines. After pondering the myriad possiblities, I chose to eat at Douzo, a Japanese restaurant that somehow I had never dined at before.  After my very positive experience, I will definitely be returning there soon to enjoy more of their menu, while sipping chilled sake.

Douzo has a modern, hip look with a lengthy sushi bar and a smaller alcohol bar. It is a good place for an afterwork drink and snack, a date or a group dinner.  The menu is quite extensive, with everything from sushi to tempura, kushi yaki to teriyaki. Prices are a little higher than average, but not as pricey as some of the other high-end Japanese restaurants in the city. In general, I believe you pay for a higher quality cuisine than you will find at average Japanese spots you might visit.

Besides a fully stocked bar, Douzo carries about twenty different sakes, both domestic and Japanee brands. There are some good choices on the list and I chose to try their Sake Flight ($15), which includes small glasses of three sakes: Kaori Ginjo, Onikoroshi Junmai Ginjo and Honjozo Kimoto. This is a good way to try a few different sakes, and all three are quite delicious, while varied in their taste.

The sushi list has all of the usual selections, as well as some more unique ones, and they also have an intriguing list of maki rolls. I tried some tuna (Yellow Fin), salmon, tamago, and a sweet potato tempura roll. The fish seemed fresh, the pieces were good-sized, and all were very tasty.  I especially liked that the rice was well packed so it did not easily fall apart and it possessed a nice sweet flavor. There was plenty of sweet potato in the maki roll, and it had an interesting blend of crunchy tempura and soft sweet potato.

The menu has a list of Tempura by the piece, which I think is a great idea. You can individually select which vegetables or seafood you would like, from green beans to eel, from broccoli to oysters. I often assess a Japanese restaurant by their tempura, which is such an iconic dish and can be an excellent indicator of the quality of a chef and his kitchen.  I went for the standard Shrimp Tempura and it excelled, just that perfect light and flaky crispness. This is the type of tempura I crave, creating a Tempura Zen moment.

One of their menu specials was Duck Gyoza, and the wrapping was much thicker and chewier than usual gyoza. The interior of the gyoza was filled with lots of very tender and flavorful shredded duck. This may not be a traditional gyoza, but was interesting and tasty, and I would order them again.

The Kushi-yaki, grilled skewers of vegetables, meat or seafood, also can be ordered by the piece, or really the skewer. Again, a great option. I went for the Scallop Kushi-Yaki, which comes with two large grilled scallops and a large scallion. The scallops were excellent, tender, and with an intriguing and spicy grill sauce.

Service was attentive, accomodating and professional.  Overall my experience was very good, and I look forward to returning to check out more of their menu.  This initial sampling was very positive, especially the tempura, and bodes well for future visits. I recommend you check out Douzo, and maybe I will see you there on my next visit.

Douzo on Urbanspoon

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