Thursday, July 13, 2006

Doraku - traditional Japanese dinner

Update March 2012: The Doraku has changed names! Its now the Suzuki Restaurant. Hope to get back there sometime soon and see how the new compares to the old! :)

On Tuesday night we ate at Doraku - Dave wanted to eat at a traditional Japanese restaurant for his birthday. There are several to choose from in Halifax, but we settled on this one, partly because it had its menu online, so we could figure out ahead of time the types of things we wanted to eat. :)

Our waitress was terrifically helpful and friendly, very easy to talk to. We were blunt: we had no experience, and needed help! :) She said most of the things I had picked (online) were things she would recommend trying (yay! I did good!), and recommended a few others. We ate a LOT. LOT. LOT. But you know what? We were full, but we didn't feel logey (you know, that feeling after you've had a big steak dinner where you don't feel like you can move, and just want to go take a nap?). But here, we were full, but could still move comfortably! It was an interesting sensation, to be sure. We sat in the traditional room, a nice quiet place where the floor just under the table was recessed, so you could sit western-style (or kneel if you chose to, but my knees have never been great, and are especially so since my knee injury last year, so no kneeling for me). :) The waitress still had to kneel to serve you, because the table is on her floor level.

Everything's brought as it's prepared, so you have lots of little dishes on the table, and can pick away, a little of this, a little of that. Fun!

Imported Beer - Sapporo
Solid beer, made a nice compliment to the meal. Sake isn't generally served with sushi, so I understand, because it's a rice based alcohol, and sushi has rice in it - ergo, it's not a good compliment.

Miso Soup - Soya bean soup
Delicate, reminiscent of a mild chicken soup - threads of seaweed and some melt-in-your-mouth tofu were nice additions.

Sashimi Appetizer 3 Kinds - Tuna, Salmon, Octopus
Super-fresh, no worries about food poisoning here. The octopus was really interesting, I saw that the piece Dave took had part of a tentacle sucker on it...hee hee hee, I didn't tell him what that particular one was, until after he ate it. :) It was very chewy, not bad at all - glad I tried them all! I can't say I'd be jonesing for more, but it is certainly worth trying. So elegantly presented as well: lovely shreds of daikon radish, and thin slices of cucumber accompanied it, along with a dab of wasabi. The wasabi was incredibly hot, but only for a very short time, and when it disappeared, it disappeared completely (unlike when you eat hot peppers, for example). Very pleasant!

Tempura Deep fried 2pcs shrimp, sweet potato, zucchini, green pepper
Perfect tempura. Ideal tempura is really an art, having to consist of an ice cold batter, making a super-delicate lightly browned crust around the food when deep-fried. And it was perfect - the shrimp was my favorite, frankly I could have eaten more and more tempura shrimp all night! :D

Yakitori Chicken
Two grilled chicken skewers with yakitori sauce - very nice, basted in a tasty, thick sauce.

Pork Gyoza Pan fried pork dumpling (6pcs)

These were really good! They looked like little mini-perogies, and were DELICIOUS!

Overall, I'm sure I used too much dipping sauce/Japanese Soya sauce on all my foods (I understand that's something westerners do often), but I'm a big "sauce" girl myself - I can't help myself. :) And the Japanese Soya Sauce that they offered in the restaurant was REALLY awesome! It was hot and spicy - like regular Soya sauce, but with a great kick! Yum! They also gave us some extra wasabi and something else that escapes me right now, to put into it, to make it even better. Good good good!

Doraku roll (4pcs)
This is a BIG freakin' sushi roll! Like the sashimi, it was good (and great care was taken in it's preparation), but I don't think I'll be a person who seeks out sushi. They do prepare a great deal of sushi at this restaurant, and even offer you pencils and a separate order form just for sushi when you get your menu. Just check off the ones you want and send it off with the waitress. Very nice!

Harumaki Rice noodle, veggie spring roll (2pcs)
Mmmmm...very tasty! Filled with vermicelli rice noodles, and a little shredded carrot. Nicely browned, crispy coating.

Tonkatsu - Deep fried breaded pork, tonkatsu sauce
Nice thick sauce, Dave enjoyed it, but I preferred the spicy soya sauce. Since it comes breaded, you can dip it in whatever sauce you like.

As I said, the waitress was super-friendly and helpful, and what's also nice is your final receipt after you pay your bill is itemized, so you have a record to take home of what you ordered. Definitely worth a visit if you're in Halifax - Doraku is conveniently located on Dresden Row, just off Spring Garden in the downtown. It's the one with the adorable Maneki Neko on the sign.

Want to learn more about sushi? Learn from the Sushi Otaku! ;)

ADDENDUM July 2010: Directions for Doraku on Google Maps.