Friday, April 24, 2009

Sushi Domo

Restaurants; I love them, but my pockets hate them with the passion of a million suns (minus the sun spots). Last week, Jacob and I were invited out to dinner at a sushi joint with some friends. This experience sort of reiterate to me how service plays just as an important role as the food when it comes to dining out.

Sushi Domo in Arlington: new, modern, fusion. The d├ęcor was absolutely lovely with different textured art works on the wall, dark wood furnishings, and colorful pillows on the wall seating. The dim lights add a nice ambiance and relax the mind.

As a group we opted for a “family style” dining experience as suggested by our server for the evening, Tammy. The technical term slips my mind at the moment. Essentially, a dollar limit is set and the chef decides what would be best to serve; up to the set limit. Tammy explained that it would be a cheaper way to experience sushi as a group plus the chef would also creates items that are not available on the menu.

Limit set: $150. Stomachs are rumbling. Mouths are watering.

For our meals, 14 dishes, sashimi and rolls, were brought out. Overall, the presentation were dead on and creative (Volcano roll was pure theatrics), but there hit and misses. There are some pictures this time (courtesy of Jacob) so do enjoy!

The first 2 dishes were tataki, albacore and tuna. The albacore was thinly sliced and marinated in soy, ponzu, and oil; while the tuna was wrapped around alfalfa sprouts then marinated in just ponzu. A heap of thinly shredded dicon radish donned the center of each plate. The soy in the marinade really brought out the sweetness of the albacore and the nuttiness from the oil complimented it well. I loved the contrast of the peppery sprouts with the tuna, but the tartness of the ponzu overpowered the tuna.

A sushi tower, was also brought out, but it was forgettable. The tower was stacked with rice, spicy tuna, crab, av

ocado, 3 different types of caviar, and topped with sesame, wasabi

sauce, and the mayo sauce. The spicy tuna adds a great punch to the entire dish along with the caviar, but sadly the mayo sauce covered the taste of the entire dish. I think if it was B

lue Fish vs Sushi Domo for the tower, Blue Fish would take the cake.

Theatric prize of the night went to the Volcano Roll! A California roll is topped with crab, crawfish, and scallops mixed in a mayo based sauce. All of this sat snugly in a large oyster shell that was engulfed in flames. It was a Cirque de Soleil act minus the acrobats. We were warned not to touch the plate nor was it a good idea to eat anything that falls onto the plate since the alcohol taste bitter. My eyes were wowed, but my taste buds were not. I just tasted imitation crab and mayo with every bite. The fum es from the burning alcohol lingered in a piece that Jacob had, causing him to say several times it just tasted like fuel.

The special roll for the night was the Monkey Brain. Sounds like something from Indian Jones, but I don’t think Indian Jones would have approved of the roll. Spicy tuna in stuffed into half

an avocado which was lightly battered and flash fried. It was topped with what tasted like an eel sauce. It looked great, but again: not enough flavor. The avocado in this case over powered the fish. Sushi is great when the fish can shine through all of

the complex flavorings.

The Razzie Award went to the roll that ended our meal, the Jalapeno roll. Somehow the chef was able to work a fish stick into a roll and call it sushi. The menu states: chopped yellow tail, cream cheese, smelt eggs, than batter fried with ponzu sauce. The roll looks like a jalapeno popper, but I would take the Chili’s popper over this one. The initial bite gives a very greasy fried taste which followed by the cream cheese and finished off with a fish stick taste. Not recommended for anyone with tongues. Jacob couldn't even take a picture of it. Just imagine a cut up jalapeno popper.

There were plenty of great creations like the Cutie Domo roll (salmon, tuna, yellow tail, crab, and asparagus wrapped in cucumber), Dancing Eel roll, and the Fire Cracker. These were good (not great) plays on the shrimp tempura rolls.

The Dancing Eel consisted of shrimp tempura, avocado, and cream cheese inside, topped with eel. Fried noodles covered

the plate. The creaminess of the avocado balanced well with savory tastes the shrimp and eel. Every bite should also have the crispy noodles since it adds a wonderful nuttiness as well as a good contrast to the softness of the roll.

The Fire Cracker takes the Oscar for texture. Texture is very under-rated in American cuisine, but more on that later. The Firecracker is actually very similar to the dancing eel but it also has crab inside. Spicy tuna tops the roll as deep friend panko buries the roll under its golden deliciousnes

s. The panko did not soak up as much oil as I thought it would so it just adds the extra crouch to the otherwise, boring roll.

Overall, the food was very pleasing and our senses were tickled. Each dish had its own personality that adds to the experience; the excitement of the fire, the interest of the brain-like mass, the colors of the tataki. Our server very much attentive to our drinks and another server brought the food out the minute it was ready. The beers were always offered as each bottle emptied. Tammy was great until just before we were ready to leave.

When the check came, we were going to split the food evening, but pay for the drinks separately since the girls chose not to consume. Before we were able to even calculate anything, Tammy suggested that we should just split the check evenly since everyone “ate and drank about the same”. A friend of ours bluntly asked if she was trying to avoid a difficult split, she concurred. Added to the insult, the ticket stated a 17% charge for the group, yet when calculated, it was a 20% charge. When brought to Tammy’s attention, we were told that it was suppose to be 20%, but the machine printed 17% in error. Ouch. The manager did little to fix the situation when I called back the next day, so diners beware: if you are unhappy here, you are unlikely to have it resolved.

A harsh taste replaced the pleasant sushi as we paid the bill. The price was reasonable but machine errors should have been disclosed when the ticket was given.

Ambiance was great. Food was fun. At restaurants, you pay for the experience. The food can be amazing, but that can change when the service doesn’t match the taste.

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