With good reason. I’ve traveled to Tokyo and ate at the world famed Daiwa in Tsukiji Fish Market. I’ve had wallet trembling sessions at the Umu, visited many local joints in the suburbs, gushed at the almost impossible to get into Sushi Tetsu and even was taught how to make the stuff at Atsuko’s Kitchen. I found Dozo in Kensington by way of quick google research and with the need to fill a gap before heading off to The Royal Albert Hall for a night of dancing to seminal club anthems once played at Haçienda nightclub. It’s with a classical twist, so there’s a live orchestra and live singers in an intoxicating atmosphere. It was a fortuitous find, not much else was available and they could get us in for an hour as they had a busy night ahead. So what should you expect; don’t come to Dozo for an omakase (‘chef’s selection’) with oceans of technique but come to this stylish, fairly intimate venue where you can graze on hand assembled classics and feed on sushi with a California vibe. This is the cross-cultural marriage of where Western ingredients make friends with Asian ingredients and they’ve been rocking this out since 2011. So onto the food.
We first dig into the dragon maki £18.80, it’s; jumbo prawn tempura; asparagus tempura; slithers of oily avocado; tobiko – a flying fish roe; squirts of sticky eel sauce; and kewpie mayonnaise – the lot gets rained on with crispy tempura batter. It gets me in the mood to tuck into the riot of textures, flavours. I start with the tail end – one of the most prized parts for me where the crispy tail gives a satisfying snap against my teeth.
Some people may think it’s all kinds of wrong to eat the head. It’s all kinds of right to crunch down on the umami laden thing of joy that gives the tongue and teeth a ride of its life. Think of it as prawn cocktail crisps but amplified.
Whenever I see spider maki £14.80 on the menu, I seize the moment. Here more silky avocado features and makes friends with the crispy crab within a reverse roll covered sesame seeds. It’s decorated with more crispy tempura crumbs, viscous sweet eel sauce, black tobiko and yukari mayo – mayo that’s been boosted with red shiso leaves, which gives a tangy bite. I don’t hesitate necking these back either.
We get the kaiso salad £8.80 for some palate cleansing, minerally, health enhancing deliciousness. The dressing is sweet, lactic and refreshing for our laughing gear – we’re happy.
Softshell crab salad £10.80 is deep fried soft shell crab. It’s crispy and full of these funky sweet notes you get from good versions. Judging by our order, and other posts you may have read on here, you may have gathered I like soft-shell crab a lot. They do it good here. Baby leaves get a coating in spicy mayo with tangy wafu dressing – a popular dressing made up of soy sauce, rice vinegar, mirin, and vegetable oil.
From the donburi section, that would be grilled things over rice – I saw the unagi don, if you don’t know what this is, then you ought to know. It’s eel, grilled until it’s bronzed and melting; it becomes extra luscious with a good glazing sticky eel sauce. The rice it sits on gets a soaking with the same sauce. I found myself helplessly scooping huge mouthfuls of the stuff into my greedy mouth – I will always find room for it. A deeply savoury and a little smoky miso soup it comes with brings balance to the rich sweetness. We chugged it down.
When did I go? Sept 2018
The damage: Expect to pay £50/60 per head with drinks
The good: The food here arrives fast – they don’t mess about, it suited us well especially since we had to be somewhere. When I eat in modern Japanese restaurants, I look for the classics like the unagi don and the version here is arrived hot, sweet and brilliant. The rolls are with a mention too, we demolished the lot. Our fortuitous find paid us dividends – it was exactly the quick fire meal we had hoped for.
The bad: Don’t come here to slow graze, they’ll bring you the bill before you even ask for it.
Would I go again? When is Kensington.
Address: 68 Old Brompton Rd, South Kensington, London SW7 3LQ