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Restaurant Review: Don Doh Robata Grill

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For many months I heard much buzz and praise for Don Doh. Open since December of 2016, Don Doh is the creation and collaboration between renowned butcher and chef, Renzo Garibaldi (Osso) and chef Ciro Watanabe and the Osaka group.

Exterior (Photo: Marco Simola/Living in Peru)
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Garibaldi sources all of the meats at Don Doh and Ciro Watanabe creates most of the Nikkei cuisine. The huge reputation of this collaboration appears to be a success.

Don Doh boasts that it is is the first Japanese grill in Lima with a complete whiskey bar. The fusion between the Japanese and Peruvian food here at Don Doh is both consistent and versatile along with using modern kitchen techniques. The significance of the words “Don Doh” translates as the “God of Fire” in Japanese. This is very appropriate considering practically all the food served here is prepared on the Japanese robata grills.

Interior (Photo: Marco Simola/Living in Peru)

The decor at Don Doh is dark, modern, cosmopolitan and slightly eclectic. I imagine in the evening hours that the ambiance must be spectacular with the special lighting. In the bar area, you will observe hundreds of wooden ema prayer tablets suspended from the ceiling.

The day of our visit we sampled a total of 13 dishes (including two desserts). Below I will mention some of the “standouts” in more detail. The same menu is used during both the lunch and evening hours.

From the starters section of the menu, we began with the delicious Niku Tartar (S/. 42) and moved on to one of the most popular starters at Don Doh, their Avocado Brasa (S/. 30). The avocado is grilled and served with a sous-vide egg placed in the middle where the pit once rested. The avocado was generously accented with a chimichurri prepared with garlic and almonds. When you cut into the avocado, the egg oozes out. The avocado was buttery and creamy. I loved the decadence and richness of this dish. Avocados are one of the national food “treasures”  here in Peru and this dish highlights and pay homage to the mighty avocado.  delightful thinly sliced Angus beef accented with pickled onion, ponzu sauce and crunchy crackers made from corn to accompany the tartar. This was a perfect start to begin our culinary adventure at Don Doh.

Kuro Tacos (Photo: Marco Simola/Living in Peru)

From the “specials” menu, we sampled the Kuro Taco (S/. 30). The word “kuro” means pork in Japanese. The tacos were prepared with pork shoulder meat, coriander and a liberal squeeze of lime for a touch of acid. The tacos were served on mini steamed black tacos (prepared with calamari ink and a pinch of sugar) as well as seaweed crackers and a spicy mayonnaise. Tacos are very popular and trendy these days throughout Lima and we thoroughly enjoyed this unique version.

I finally was ready to sample the infamous Black Burger (S/. 38) that everyone has been raving about. The burger consists of a combination of ground Angus skirt steak and ribeye beef, cheddar cheese, a kyuri (Japanese pickle) relish, caramelized onions and spicy mayonnaise. The black color of the bao-style steamed bun comes from the infusion of squid ink. There is also a hint of sweetness in this bun from a pinch of sugar. Overall, I was impressed by the burger and I would rank this burger in the top 3 burgers in Lima.

Black Cod (Photo: Marco Simola/Living in Peru)

From the seafood section of the menu, we shared the Black Cod (S/. 78). I was told this fish is an artisanal cod or bacalao which can be found at the limit of the coast of Peru with Chile. This particular cod is a very fatty fish and bordered on a bit of decadence for me because it was so rich. The cod was prepared in a cast iron skillet along with limón, sake, miso, ginger, and kyuri. We felt the richness of the sauce, as well as the richness of the fish, competed with each other a bit and perhaps the fish would be a bit better with a lighter sauce to appreciate the flavor of the fish more.

From the beef section of the menu, we sampled the well executed,  Lomo (S/. 89), 180 grams of sliced beef tenderloin which was prepared medium rare. It was generously topped off with sliced green onion, smoked salt, and a special house butter. Besides the beef, we also shared the Pancetta (S/. 46) from the pork section of their menu. This was very rich in flavor and was prepared with a barbecue sauce, kimchi, black sesame seeds and nira (Asian chives)… The portion was 180 grams and because of its richness, I feel this dish should be shared.

Esparragos (Photo: Marco Simola/Living in Peru)

From the vegetable side dish section, we were pleasantly surprised. Don Doh offers six different vegetable side dishes which would satisfy most vegetable lovers. Our first vegetable dish was the Espárragos (S/. 24), which was prepared with a sweet miso sauce, white onion, shoyu and toasted sesame seeds. The Coliflor Steak (S/. 24), was prepared on the robata grill. The cauliflower was seasoned with garam masala (a blend of spices typical in Indian food), and accompanied by pickled shallots and a watercress and mustard emulsion. Both of these modest vegetable dishes were excellent and every component allowed the vegetables to shine.

Besides the dishes mentioned above, Don Doh offers a couple complimentary side dishes, their Arroz Don Doh and our table favorite, the Udon Batayaki, a thick wheat flour Japanese noodle dish combined with butter, garlic confit, ginger, and togashi. This was rich, buttery and slightly addictive. Japanese-style comfort food!

We finished with two very respectable desserts. The Matsuri Dezato (S/. 26)  was a creative preparation of eggs, mascarpone foam, a roasted sweet potato cake and accompanied by a cinnamon ice cream. The hard sphere of caramel that encapsulates it added another dimension to this creative dessert.

Chokoreto Pot (Photo: Marco Simola/Living in Peru)

The Chokoreto Pot (S/. 29) was Don Doh’s version of a deconstructed chocolate fondue prepared with Amazónico brand chocolate and hazelnuts and served with a banana ice cream and seasonal fruit.

Besides the dishes mentioned above, we sampled several of Don Doh’s house specialty craft cocktails and three of their non-alcoholic beverages. Don Doh has an excellent selection of liquor and skilled bartenders. The bar area is especially popular during the evening hours. My personal favorite of the three cocktails we sampled was the Green Mill (S/. 32), a concoction of Huamani Acholado Pisco, Pernod, Tahiti lime juice, and a syrup consisting of pineapple syrup, cardamom, and kyuri (Japanese cucumber). This was extremely refreshing, slightly sweet, fruity and citrusy.

The cocktail, Monkey Man (S/. 42), is one of the more popular whiskey drinks on their menu. Monkey Man is triple malt scotch whiskey from Scotland. This whiskey was combined with sal de maras, Cocchi Americano (an Italian quinine-laced aperitif wine) and lulo shrub (a citrus fruit). This was subtle, sweet and very citrusy. We also enjoyed another whiskey-based cocktail, the Bumblebee (S/. 34).

We thoroughly enjoyed the standout,  Cinnamon Girl (S/. 16), the first of our non-alcoholic beverages. This infusion of cinnamon, grapefruit, ginger syrup, lime and sparkling water was unique and refreshing. The Ocha Iced Tea (S/. 14) and their  Desert Trip (S/. 16) were refreshing, but not as memorable as the Cinnamon Girl.

We were thoroughly impressed with Don Doh…..from their great execution of dishes, food presentation (impeccable), service, ambiance. The average meal per person would probably run around 120 soles per person, but I feel well worth the occasional splurge for the high quality of food and overall service that is offered. I highly recommend a visit to Don Doh.

 

Don Doh Robata Grill

Av. Conquistadores 999, San Isidro

Phone: 421-2929

Hours:  Monday-Wednesday:  12:30 p.m.-4:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.-11:00 p.m.

           Thursday-Saturday:  12:30 p.m.-4:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.-11:30 p.m.

           Sunday:  12:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m.

Capacity:  68 people

Valet parking

Limited street parking

www.dondoh.com

 

Starters/Appetizers:  S/. 24-42

Chicken:  S/. 59

Beef:  S/. 38-140

Pork:  S/. 45-68

Fish:  S/. 42-78

Vegetable dishes:  S/. 24-28

Desserts:  S/. 22-29

Specials:  S/. 30-98

Beer:

    Japanese:  S/. 24-30

    Craft:  S/. 24

House Specialty Cocktails:  S/. 27-45

Sakes (by the bottle):  S/. 35-22

Extensive wine list and full bar

Non-alcoholic beverages:  S/. 14-16

 

(Main photo: Pancetta/Marco Simola)

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Sheila was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. She spent several years in Denver, Colorado at Regis University and lived eleven years in Fort Lauderdale, Florida before moving with her Peruvian husband to live full-time in Peru in 2007. An epicurean at heart, Sheila first became inspired about food and cooking through the fantastic cooks in her Danish family. In her free time, Sheila is a volunteer at an orphanage, is involved in sports, including tennis and spinning, and loves exploring Peru’s incredible cuisine.