DOMODOMO

Every few months the Lifestyle & Culture section of some publication rediscovers Jersey City.  It typically starts by some big-J Journalist or hardo food-critic putting on their safari hat and taking the PATH to Grove St.  Shortly after emerging from underground they are met with an undeniable truth, one that quakes the foundation upon which their cultural dogma is built: life CAN exist on this side of the Hudson!  They meander around Newark Ave, they notice all the murals, find no active crime scenes or open-air drug markets and proceed to wherever the fuck their going.  The fact that they made it to their destination without stab wounds or loss of cell service sends them into a manic frenzy where their fingers reflexively type the words “vibrant” and “colorful” over and over and over until Jack becomes a dull boy.

For a time, the object of their desire was Thirty Acres. If you were lucky enough to have had meals there before the switch to prix fixe you would probably co-sign on to this  being the JC restaurant worthy of excessive praise. It also fit nicely into their narrative of the NYC emissary deployed to a far away land to spread the Lord’s word of refined dining to the mongrel natives.

More recently it was Razza – New York’s best pizza. A line around the block filled with people waiting to get their new super-rare holofoil Charizard variation of Neapolitan pizza for the gram.  In The Ususal Suspects, notable gay-rapist and assassin Kevin Spacey said “the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he wasn’t real”.  His second greatest trick was convincing people to wait 2 hours for pizza.

Bread and Salt has made the JC safari even more arduous by requiring an additional form of transportation to reach an unfamiliar part of town. Thankfully the line at Bread and Salt isn’t that long, and, for now, I’m buying what Bread and Salt is selling – though selling a bowl of orange slices for $12 is deep inside smells-their-own-farts territory. (photo credit)

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DOMODOMO is much easier to get to and should check the boxes for safari suction, but we’re probably not going to see the same impact in the blogosphere as sexy pizza from a far away land. NYC has too many god-tier sushi spots and having just-great sushi across the river isn’t sexy.  Despite this, I think DOMODOMO is exceptional and you will enjoy your experience.

The context I had going into the meal was this: DOMODOMO NYC has been receiving Michelin hype for years, but over the past year-ish they have been focused on growth, expanding to JC and apparently the Hamptons, which may have caused them to lose some focus on the quality of the product they’re putting on the table.  Let’s be real, there’s no good sushi in JC.  There’s OK sushi, but nothing that’s going to blow you away.  Because of this, I was primed to blow DOMODOMO simply because the distance between them and the next best sushi should be vast, regardless of any real or perceived downtrend.

The result was really good. I haven’t been to Sushi by Bou yet, but this is easily the best sushi in town and it’s not even close.

The Food

First, don’t do the Domokase.  It’s not a great value and what you really want here is the sushi.  The best thing you can do is find a friend and go split a couple of entrees (they’re small), the 5pc handroll course, and the sushi & handroll light course.  This will bring you in well under the price for two Domokases, get you more food and or more of the good things you want to eat.

For entrée’s we got the miso black cod, the uni pasta and the katsu sandos.

It’s hard to describe how perfectly cooked the cod dish was.  It was texturally awesome, fork tender with a crisp black skin.  With a piece of fish like this, its easy for the delicate flavor of the flesh to get lost in the background, but it was perfectly balanced.  I’ll go back just for this.

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The katsu sando was probably the best thing I could have had follow the cod.  Its fatty and sweet and tangy and you can pick it up with your hands like a fucking animal and stuff it into your gnashing maw.  It tasted great and helped me not get all ceremonial about this dining experience, which cant skew towards cold and sterile.

The uni pasta was a miss for me.  I like uni, but I won’t go out of my way for it, but I appreciate it.  Covering it with a fucking cheese sauce is not great.  And not even a regular cheese sauce, its like an Easy Mac watery piss sauce. There’s also tempura-ed sheet of nori on top of this, which is soggy and just outright unpleasant. Stay away from this.

Handrolls

These are very good.  My only complaint on this is that they get a little too cute with the combos.  Throwing a big slice of avocado on a delicious piece of crab kills the crab, the spicy stuff is so mayo heavy that its actually dripping.  The single dot of chocolate sauce on the unagi lets me know they the concept of ‘a little goes a long way’ but should probably repeat it a few times so it sticks.  Speaking of the unagi, we ordered seconds on that.  FUCKING. DELICIOUS. Its like if tuna and bacon had a baby by a campfire and then you killed the baby and ate it.

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Nigiri

With the handrolls, the sushi rice is getting a lot of tastebud competition from nori, proteins, and other ingredients. Once you order the nigiri its clear that the sushi rice here is insane.  It’s like discovering good coke for the first time and realizing that a little more money makes a whole lot of difference. Because of this, all of your nigiri options are going to be delicious.

Counter to the guidance given for the handrolls, I’d say that some of the options that come with extra ingredients are a good indicator of quality.  The butterfish with pickled banana was a winner for me, the brief torching of the fish gives it that nice Chinatown butane smoke and releases some of that yummy fish oil.  The flounder and shisho was ordered twice, possibly because its clean, bright, and non-controversial as opposed to being a breathtaking piece of sushi. Wasn’t a fan of the King Salmon, they might have went a tad hard on the truffle salt.  Also, I just don’t want truffle anything on top of a gorgeous slice of fish.

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The Service

Very rushed.  We ate A LOT of food and they were coming out rapid fire, non-stop.  I felt like they wanted me out of there to make room for the next wallet that walked in.  The only problem was the place was like half-full.  Most of the restaurant was staff.  Honestly, if the staff played tug of war with the customers, I’m not sure who would win, which is not good considering this place is massive.  Obviously, a restaurant needs to turn tables to make money, but if I’m dropping $200 on sushi I’d like to take a fucking breath please.

I think DOMODOMO fills a much needed gap in JC dining.  It’s high-end and refined, which despite all of the cries about the “new” Jersey City is not something we have much of and desperately need.  This is a win for JC and just because you don’t hear much hype about it (yet) should not be a reason to pass it up.

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