Well it’s no Tampopo, but Dozo is pretty good are dishing up a hot bowl of ramen. This was our latest Ramen club outing and from the get go it wins points for being traditional with sunken seating, cushions, and low tables. You almost feel as if you should have taken your shoes off before entering (you don’t!) but it adds to the charm. The food is good and although a bit pricey, still within the realms of good value.
There is nothing wrong with getting there early to hit the sake. But if that doesn’t appeal, you are spoiled for choice in the area. I personally prefer Zenna (underneath the Red Fort) which has some truly spectacular cocktails but you also have Bar Soho opposite for a happy hour special or a range of pubs to slake your thirst.
What to eat?
Ramen of course! But just in case you aren’t craving a bowl of noodles, Dozo does have the full range of Japanese cuisine to choose from. They have a fair range of raw seafood including some rarer items like fatty tuna and sea urchin which can be had in sashimi (just the fish), nigiri (fish on a rice ball), and maki (the universally recognised sushi roll). There are even a couple of dishes where the fish is wrapped around vegetables – this is what they call “salad”.
Well we dove in and ordered a range of starters (gotta love dining with Yelpers) including the Sea Pearl and Summer maki rolls, a strangely named Mizuna to Hamashi no Salad, and a Kaiso (seaweed) salad. The two maki rolls were perfect with tender flavourful fish and seafood, tightly wrapped rolls that were easily picked up with chopsticks, and presented in a way that delighted the eye as much as the palate. It was a rare occurrence where the roll was worth the extra dosh.
The Mizuna to Hamashi was composed of thin slices of yellow tail mizuna wrapped around some crunchy green veggies (perhaps spring onions?) and seasoned with a light garlic truffle sauce. It had a delicate flavour that danced on your tongue and a great mix of textures from the soft slightly chewy flesh to the crunchy fresh veggies. This is my type of salad.
Finally, let’s get to the Ramen. I, along with many others, opted for the spicy Tantan Tonkotsu Ramen. I love Tonkotsu for its rich unctuous broth and depth of flavour – and like pad thai, it’s a great dish to test the kitchen. The one had the right elements with a meaty broth (although lacking in profundity), decent noodles (smooth and strong), and assorted veggies. It even came with half a seasoned egg, albeit a very small one. The major issue was the lack of spice. Why do you call something spicy and then when serving tell us its actually not?! The saving grace was the appearance of some chilli powder and oil which we added to the bowls in great quantity to bring the heat up to tolerable levels. I appreciate it, but next time I’ll go for the Spicy beef which actually does what it says on the tin.
Need something to quench the fire?
There is a pretty good sake/beer/whiskey selection with the house sake at £17.50 for 300ml isn’t too bad. I’d suggest sticking with beer or sake as the wine selection is limited and sub-par to be honest. Plus there is just something about staying in theme that appeals, no?
Worth the dosh?
A bowl of Ramen runs you about £10-11, sushi about the same per roll, and the sake at £18 for 2 people. All in all, my group of four devoured 2 Dozo Maki, one salad that wasn’t really a salad, a couple of beers and a bottle of sake resulting in a somewhat hefty charge of £30pp. Given the quantity and quality of food, I’m quite happy with that as far as value for money.
Find Dozo here
32 Old Compton Street
London W1D 4TP
020 7434 3219
68 Old Brompton Road
London SW7 3LQ
020 7225 0505