Our Dog is an Awesome Dog

There are a surprising number of Japanese-themed restaurants in Kaneohe.  I say “themed” because in general, they serve Americanized or “Local”-ized fare and not authentic, traditional Japanese cuisine.  Maybe I’m also being a racist, since so far all of the ones that I have tried in Kaneohe have been run by ethnic Koreans.  That’s not to say Koreans can’t make good food – they make terriffic food: I’m saying the restaurants in question don’t produce acceptable approximations of Nihon-ryouri.  It’s picture-book cooking – it looks like it’s supposed to, but doesn’t taste exactly like it’s supposed to.  It’s like those science fiction shows where aliens build soul-less, substance-less copies of earth cities, then populate them with kidnapped earthlings and assume the humans will not notice they aren’t at home anymore. 

On Monday night, we went to Domo in the small strip-mall that also houses the Kaneohe Boston’s North End Pizza, between Windward Mall and Zippy’s.  The space was cold and industrial, with white walls and a high ceiling.  It was about half-full, which was a good sign.  I ordered a spicy ahi roll and a zaru-soba.  The server was quick and polite, and commendably repeated our order to us to make sure everything was correct.

12-17-07_2006.jpgThe spicy ahi roll was the normal size and cut neatly into 6 pieces.  The cuke and avocado outmassed the ahi by a fair margin, but for $5 USD, that was not unexpected.  Flavor-wise, it was in fact spicy, but also fairly heavy on the sesame oil.  It was not the tobiko-mayo based spicy ahi that I have experienced elsewhere.  The rice on the ends wasn’t “packed” well enough, so two pieces promptly fell apart when touched by the chopsticks.  When I managed to get the sushi into my mouth I discovered that the rice was both hot and unseasoned.

12-17-07_2012.jpgThe zaru-soba was “green tea flavored” third-party stuff and was wet and overcooked.  The soba-tsuyu (sauce) was dark like shoyu and overly strong.  Did they not follow the dilution directions on the bottle?  The shiso-aji daikon (perilla-flavored Japanese radish) and hakusai (Napa cabbage) tsukemono (pickles) that came as a side were really salty.  Not quite worth the price of admission at $7 USD.

Throughout dinner, I was oblivious to the surroundings until some familiar sounds were identified in my subconscious.  I had heard the music somewhere… where was it?  Some TV advertisement…  Our what is an awesome what?  It was that Christian pop CD they sell on TV playing!  The alien-abduction Japanese food was one thing, but being subjected to the brainwashing of an oppressive Western religion in the guise of background music was another. 

The food was food.  I don’t think it was worth the $12 USD + tax/tip that I paid.  My mother later asked me if I thought it was better than Gyotaku to which I said, “no, not even close.”  It was definitely better than the one over near Panda Cuisine near Safeway (can’t remember the name), making it the best Japanese-themed restaurant in Kaneohe that I’ve tried so far.  The family that owns/operates Domo is very nice – I really do wish their food was better.

Two out of four grinning monkeys for the food

Four out of four raised fists of anger for the Christian pop

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