Donguri, NYC 1 & 2
July 11, 2006
On November 9, 2005, we went to Donguri, 309 East 83rd Street. (212-737-5656, closed Mondays, reservations required.) This was our third dinner at this small (24 seats) “country Japanese” restaurant. We really enjoyed it, as before. It is expensive for such a little place, but one gets good value. Even so, it is less than $100 per person, which is not bad for a very good meal in Manhattan. This third time we ordered à la carte with many of the same dishes as the first time. Both times we ordered each dish to be split by two people. The second time we had the $65 tasting menu, which was also good and gave us a chance to try dishes we would not have ordered. But we will continue to order à la carte. On sitting down you are given an elaborate sake and wine menu, which is of high quality and high prices. This time the four of us shared two bottles of the autumn sake special at $75 a bottle. We thought it was excellent. The amuse gueule was mackerel with Chinese greens: small and refreshing. We then had the sea urchin sashimi, which is simply a generous glob of sea urchin roe with a little wasabe, very good. We had ordered the braised spinach with sesame paste, which we loved the first time, but they came back and said they didn’t have it and gave us a choice of green peas (Linda thought she said green beans.) with sesame or mustard greens. We took the latter, which was good, but a bit severe. The peas or beans probably would have been better. We then had the broiled marinated Chilean sea bass, which was superb. The marinade was like a teriyaki, but milder. There was a radish purée with it. Then we enjoyed the grilled toro sashimi; then tempura of mixed vegetables and tempura of mushrooms. We didn’t have dessert, but the other times, there were nice rice cakes with red bean sauce. Everything is served on lovely rustic Japanese plates. The clientele is varied, but quiet and into the experience, which is important as everyone is quite close together.
On Sunday, July 9, 2006, Linda and I went to Donguri. Some impressions from that meal:
1. The three tables occupied when we arrived at 6:30 were all Japanese. That is a good sign, but it wasn’t clear if they were getting things not on the menu.
2. Donguri is even more expensive now, but worth it.
3. Don’t go on Sunday night. They are closed Monday and on Sunday they have run out of many fish and vegetables and keep running out as the evening progresses. That is a good sign for Tuesday, I guess. The service is still very fast, friendly and efficient. The Japanese plates are still lovely and the food beautifully presented. We shared five courses (after the asparagus amuse gueule):
1. The sea urchin (uni) sashimi.
2. Spicy octopus with cucumber. (Too spicy.)
3. Shrimp and vegetable tempura.
4. Broiled marinated cod.
5. Green tea ice cream with red bean sauce.
We had a good bottle of sake. The food was good, but not as good as we had remembered it.