This is a relatively new kid on the block although Dozo in Old Brompton Road has been around for a while. This new Soho branch enjoys a spot on Old Compton Street. That’s not the touristy side of Shaftesbury Avenue but the more eclectic streets to the north of that thoroughfare and away from Chinatown proper.
Dozo swells the ranks of that new breed of Japanese restaurants that tend towards tatami matting and sunken seat wells. Its location in this trendy corner of Soho assures this Dozo is filled with younger lovers of Japanese food who have the physical flexibility to negotiate such extraordinary seating. There are regular tables with regular chairs ranged over the back half of the restaurant, so prospective diners need not be put off.
The Soho branch, practicalities aside, is a rather attractive restaurant with a striking mural and plenty of natural wood. The crockery is rustic and in earth tones and adds to the impression of warmth. Dozo presents its dishes in a thoughtful and appealing way that one would more readily associate with far more expensive restaurants.
Sushi and sashimi are on the menu at Dozo and that’s no surprise, but it offers so much more and it would be a shame to visit and not try something a little different. Aburi sushi is prepared with thicker slices of fish or meat than would be used for regular cold sushi or sashimi. The fish is quickly grilled but remains moist and picks up a delicate flavour from the charring. The salmon Aburi should not be missed.
Robata Raki are skewers of grilled foods – meat, fish or vegetables – and are authentically Japanese but seldom found in those popular establishments with conveyor belts. Try the Tori Negima – grilled chicken thighs – and skewers of glistening shitake mushrooms; but the Enoki Bacon skewers are outstanding and bacon is seldom seen in Japanese restaurants.
Black cod has become ubiquitous on Japanese menus over the last four or five years. Dozo presents Gindara Saikyo Miso cod. This miso is pale in colour and prized for its sweetness. This is perhaps the most visually impressive dish on the bill of fare here, and neither flavour nor texture disappoint.
Ironically I found the most deliciously striking dish on the Dozo menu wasn’t to be found on the list of fish or meat dishes but with the vegetables. It’s the remarkable Nasu Dengaku – grilled aubergine with sweet miso dressing and sesame seeds. This was a beautiful mahogany-coloured preparation with a silky texture. I believe the aubergine is first steamed and then pan-fried to give its marvellously lacquered crust.
Dozo Soho hasn’t been open long but it already has a loyal following of those looking for more than sushi. It’s an ideal restaurant in which to try some unique dishes.
Mon – Wed, Sun: 12 noon – 22:30
Thu – Sat: 12 noon- 23:00
32 Old Compton St
London W1D 4TP
Telephone: 020 7434 3219
Restaurant review by Chrissie Walker © 2018