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


iqster99 said...

one of my fav sushi restaurants is ginza sushi. i think they have a three locations but i've only been to the bay/bloor one (just up from Pangaea). great food, surprisingly good price, no problems with the service and ive been there many times. the interior looks cool too.

another place i go to a lot but is out of the way for most people (its walking distance from my house) its called Ama Sushi in scarborough.

wish i saw this review before going to eat across hwy7 yesterday at mr greek :(

Vickie said...

Inatei is not bad, it's on Leslie, one light north of Highway 7....

i haven't gone to Dozo yet thou =P must try since I saw some of my friend's dinner pics and it look so good =P

steph said...

I hear really good things about akasaka japanese restaurant down at west beaver creek and hwy 7. My sister says the sashimi is really good there but i have yet to try!!

Vickie said...

Akasaka that's one of the only Japanese Jap. Restau updown that i know of.... but I think it way over price and really not that great.... if I was going to pay that much, I'll just head dt =P

femme fraiche said...

I really like Koganei and Yang's Sushi...they're both located in Woodbridge. BTW Happy Belated:)

The Food Junkie said...

Thanks for the comments, everyone! =D I haven't been to Ama Sushi nor Inatei, but have been to Akasaka, Koganei and Yang's~ Great to hear such feedback from all of you ^_^

Chelsea said...

The kiwi tuna roll looks delicious! I know it's unfair to compare the two but the takoyaki (octopus balls) are probably way better at Guu (looks better too ;)) My friend tells me that MI-NE sushi in Richmond Hill (Yonge & Elgin Mills) is really good... really fresh fish. Never tried it myself but that's a goal of mine!

The Food Junkie said...

@Chelsea - Yup! The kiwi tuna roll was really good =) haha yeah, like I said in my post, I don't bother comparing any Japanese restaurant uptown to the ones downtown because it's unfair so I don't even bother LOL~ MI-NE....I will keep that in mind! Thanks!

Brian Pho said...

Had to comment:
Most Japanese food uptown is more about quantity than quality???

Have you tried Solo Sushi Ya in Newmarket? Probably one of the best Japanese restaurants in Toronto (which also includes downtown!!).... Google it!

Brian Pho said...

Solo Sushi Ya (Chef Djo) is comparable to Kaji, Hashimoto's and Hiro - price wise, a little cheaper than downtown since they are in cheaper location - but their sushi, shrimp sashimi (amebi) and everything else is phenomenal...... and yes - Chef Djo is from Japan and has been serving the North Toronto market for years!

The accolades to his restaurant in Newmarket was so good that he had to open another place in downtown Toronto.....

The Food Junkie said...

Thanks for your comment, Brian! I totally welcome new resto suggestions so I can go try them~ I will definitely have to check out this Solo Sushi Ya =)

I'm not trying to diss uptown Japanese restos or anything, I go eat out in Jap restos all the time in Richmond Hill and Markham. But like I said in my post, I'm not saying that there are NO good Japanese restos in uptown, I have no doubt that there are exceptions and that great Japanese restos DO exist in uptown (like Solo Sushi Ya, for example). I just feel that in GENERAL, the Japanese restaurants in uptown are not to the same level as the ones that I've mentioned in downtown, except, for the "exceptions" ^_^

Jess said...

Oh I took my bf there for his birthday in November. We went for dinner to try the lobster sashimi but it wasn't fresh so we didn't end up getting it :( the decor is really nice and we really liked the mango rolls.

The Food Junkie said...

@Jess - yeh I agree that the decor is really up there compared to other uptown Japanese restos. I like their rolls too =)

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