Monday, July 12, 2010

Dozo Sushi + Sake Bar

For my birthday, I wanted my boyfriend to pick a place for lunch. I ask this of him because it was already my decision to go to The Drake Hotel for dinner, so I wanted him to surprise me and plan somewhere to go for lunch. 

My boyfriend is always very hesitant  to pick a place to eat because 1) he is not really into food hence is pretty laid back about it 2) he is always nervous about picking a restaurant because he is afraid I will be disappointed if the food turns out bad, and 3) I love food and actually has a food blog, which I guess, indirectly gives him more pressure hahaha. I tell him time and time again that I don't care whether the food turns out good or bad;  I just want to be surprised and not have to think of where to go all the time. So for my birthday lunch, he chose Dozo Sushi + Sake Bar. Verdict? Let's just say he breathed a sigh of relief =) 

By the way, I love saying the name DOZO (sounds like "BOZO" and I like to elongate the "O" sound haha). I like it so much I named my pet fish DOZO. I'm not joking =D

Dozo Sushi + Sake Bar is located in Richmond Hill, at a strip mall on Commerce Valley Drive. The mall also has Baton Rouge, Brix, and Bombay Bhel. From the outside, Dozo already looks a bit different than the other Japanese restaurants uptown...more "upscale". This was confirmed when I walked in.

This place reminds me of a lounge. Decor wise, it is definitely at a different level with what I'm used to for Japanese restaurants in the suburbs: the stylish padded booths, the lighting, the hanging beads...

This is the sushi bar. Love the decor of Dozo because purple = my favorite colour :D Funny because once the sushi chef saw that I was taking pictures, he ducked behind the sushi bar. What a shy guy.

They also have areas for private dining. Great for small gatherings.

Napkins and placemats?! Never had this level of sophistication in uptown before - I can get use to this =D 

Before I begin talking about the food at Dozo, let me just say that I have a different set of standards and expectations when it comes to Japanese food depending on whether I'm eating in uptown (i.e. in cities like Markham, Richmond Hill, Scarborough) or in downtown. This is because in uptown, generally speaking, people are more keen on quantity, as opposed to quality (hence the numerous all-you-can-eat Japanese buffets in uptown). Also, 98% of Japanese restaurants there are owned by Chinese and Koreans, where the sushi chefs may have only started working in a Japanese restaurant after immigrating to Canada (for example). I'm sure there are exceptions to all this, it's just that so far, I haven't been to any Japanese restaurant uptown that has impressed me. This is not to say that I won't eat Japanese food in uptown, just that my standards are adjusted accordingly, and when I want really good Japanese food, I will go to downtown.

There are also a wide range of Japanese restaurants in downtown, from the cheap Japanese bistros at Yonge and Bloor, to expensive ones such as Yuzu, Japango, or Sushi Kaji, just to name a few. When I speak of Japanese restaurants in downtown, I'm talking about the latter, splurge-worthy ones because there's really no need for me to go to downtown to eat cheap Japanese food when I can do so in uptown. And it is precisely due to this reason that I tend to not compare Japanese restaurants in uptown vs. the ones in downtown - the Japanese restaurants in downtown that I've mentioned are in a league of their own, and the uptown ones compete with other uptown ones. This is really just my point of view, of course, but either way, hope I didn't lose anybody with my rationale =D

Food time!

Fried Octopus Balls ($5.95) - pretty good, a bit too mushy inside for my liking.

Salmon Soy Paper Roll ($4.95) - Roll was yummy but I prefer the traditional seaweed wrap - the paper doesn't hold the filling too well. 

Fried Pork Chop Ramen with California Roll ($7.99) - this is in their lunch special menu. Yummy with generous portion. Good value.

A must for my noodles. Some places don't have this. Yes, it's true.

Nori Wrapped Sushi ($9.95) - These were tasty. Only complaint is that the seaweed wrap is not as secure as I would like it (hard to pick up in one piece).

Kiwi Tuna ($7.95) - Delicious rolls.

I would definitely want to go back to Dozo again. I looked at their dinner menu briefly online and it looks quite interesting. Overall, I would say it was their wide selection, creativity, plating, and decor that impressed me; all those factors are above average for uptown standards. Although Dozo is owned by Chinese, they evidently still make a conscious effort to present their food nicely, unlike other cheap Japanese restos in uptown, who may charge cheaper for their food compared to Dozo but with zero presentation. However, as you can see in the first few pictures, the restaurant was quite dead (we went at normal lunch time on a Sunday); there was only one other table besides us. I hope they don't go out of business before I decide to try it again.

Please feel free to let me know of any good Japanese restaurants in uptown that are of high-quality and are splurge-worthy =D

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