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ON A ROLL: Addicting sushi and affordability make for memorable experience

RESTAURANT REVIEW: DOUZŌ Modern Japanese Restaurant & Lounge

For our anniverrsary dinner, my boyfriend took me to Douzō, which is located in the Back Bay neighborhood and (right outside the Back Bay T stop on the Orange Line). We arrived around 4PM on a Saturday with no reservations (early pre-show dinner) but that was not a problem because we were seated immediately. The restaurant was not quite busy at that hour but it wasn’t completely vacant either. There was a pleasant buzz of activity from the other customers who varied from older businessmen, a mother and her son, and several tables of friends just hanging out. Douzō doesn’t target a niche market of diners. Instead, it draws in people who enjoy good sushi in a modern atmosphere. As a fan of contemporary design, I really like the interior of Douzō. It is sleek and functional, without the ascetic feeling of minimalism. The restaurant is especially well lit during that time of day because the thin curtains let a lot of sunlight in.

We were seated at a table near the sushi bar; various options were available including the bar, tables, booths, and the sushi bar. The menu was typical for a Japanese restaurant: appetizers, soups and salads, sushi, and entrees. The waitress came by promptly to take our order and another waiter brought out water for us. My boyfriend and I ordered gyozas and a roll of sushi to split and he had the Salmon Teriyaki and I had the Chicken Katsu. The businessmen at the table next to us who ordered Soft Shell Crab raved about how good it was, and suggested that we get it. We didn’t take their advice, but if you enjoy crab you may want to try it since they said it is why they go to Douzō.

The wait for the appetizer and sushi was not long. The appetizer, pan-fried pork dumplings (Gyoza), was quite good. It was the perfect amount of food to make us crave more, which is a good and bad feeling at the same time. The skins on the dumplings were thin and one side was lightly fried with a nice crunch. The sauce was a vinegary-soy sauce that was just slightly spicy—simple but it was so good! My biggest complaint would be the price tag. $7.49 for 4 pieces of Gyoza? That’s a ripoff in every sense considering they’re dumplings (even if they are really good). I’ve been to New York Chinatown where they sell 15 dumplings for $1 and they’re really good too. But it was for a special occasion, so it was okay to indulge I suppose.

Shortly after the appetizer arrived (and was quickly consumed), the sushi roll we ordered came out. The Crazy Roll is on the menu as one of Douzō’s many special rolls. It’s on the cheaper end of the spectrum at $9.69, considering some special rolls go up to $20 and more. The Crazy Roll consisted of shrimp tempura, avocado, cucumber, and spicy mayo. The shrimp tempura was nice and crunchy, the avocado and cucumber were fresh (not mushy), and the flavors went together well. The roll was simple enough that the flavors did not get lost in each other, which happens sometimes with special rolls. Once again, the only issue I had was the serving size, especially since I wish I had more of this to eat. The roll came with only 4 pieces, which is more than $2 a piece for the Crazy Roll. It was really good sushi though.

The entrees came out a little while after we finished our starters. I don’t know why we ordered entrees when we could have gotten more sushi, but I didn’t think about wanting more sushi until after I had it. The portions for the entrees were a lot bigger, which was good. This is partially because of the salad on the plate, but it was still a decent portion relative to the other dishes we had. My boyfriend had the Salmon Teriyaki, which is very good. The sauce didn’t taste like fake, plastic teriyaki sauce (you know what I am talking about if you’ve ever had it before). Instead it was sweet and salty and the salmon melted in your mouth (I know this because I was stealing bites of his food). The salmon was $23.19 but came with tasty fried rice. I had the Chicken Katsu, which is basically a lightly-battered and fried chicken cutlet that came with white rice and katsu sauce. It was simply good; there was a good ratio of chicken to the fried breading. The katsu sauce helped add flavor to the chicken cutlet, which didn’t really taste great if it was eaten without sauce. There was also wasabi mustard that was a little too spicy (in the wasabi-shoot-up-your-nose sense) for my taste but I kept eating it because the burning feeling was sort of fun. The Katsu Dinner was $20.99, which I found acceptable only because it was a special occasion. I’ve had cheap chicken katsu for half the price of the dish at Douzō, but admittedly the one at Douzō was tasted better and was presented well.

Overall, the food was really good because I generally think that most Japanese restaurants serve the same kind of food. Douzō’s food, like the décor, was quite modern. The Gyoza was really good but of all the things that could have been cheaper, it was the dumplings. The sushi roll was excellent and it makes me want to return to Douzō and order a lot of sushi. The entrees were a decent portion and were pretty delicious. I enjoyed my boyfriend’s salmon teriyaki more than my own chicken katsu though. I would definitely suggest Douzō for nicer occasions because it is a little costly for a cheap lunch or dinner out on a college student’s tight budget. I would say that it was a very good choice on my boyfriend’s part and I enjoyed it a lot. My only complaints would have been that the portion sizes for the appetizer and sushi were small, and that the waitress took 5-10 minutes to get the check but I was in a really good mood so something small like that couldn’t pop my bubble. If you like sushi, I’d recommend indulging on special rolls or sashimi at Douzō. It’s cheaper than the outrageously expensive sushi restaurants like Oishii and has a great ambiance for an enjoyable meal.

Ambiance: A+

Service: A

Food (taste): A-

Food (presentation): B

Price: B

TOTAL: A

Douzō Modern Japanese Restaurant & Lounge

131 Dartmouth Street

Boston, MA 02116

(617) 859-8886

http://www.douzosushi.com

– Christina Pan

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