Douzo and Basho Sushi

For those of you who have never had a monkfish liver, I’m about to take you on a wild ride.

PREFACE: I ate at Basho, and then at Douzo the next day. These are not the same restaurant, just two semi-fancy Japanese restaurants who share an owner (or something like that. In actuality their “Apply to work with us!” forms feature both restaurants’ logos at the top and have very similar vibes so I decided to review both in one post)

They hid the TVs!!!

Atmosphere:

With ceilings chilling at a calm ~14 feet, this place is made for giants. That space is also empty in Douzo, which lets you know the restaurant is kinda expensive (Emptiness is expensive, after all). The same overhead space in Basho had weird barrel frames surrounding lightbulbs. Both restaurants had muted lighting, and allowed in a minimal influx of sunlight from their glass front doors.

This place did a lot of things right that most restaurants don’t. Though they had TVs, they were small, and perfectly angled behind the bar such that it was not distracting to me trying to talk to my friends. Their menu had pictures for EVERY entree, which is so important for menus written mostly in other languages. The glasses were ovoid and the water had minimal ice. Small things, but easy-to-fix little annoyances that restaurateurs rarely address.

Decor and ceiling of Douzo Sushi in Boston, MA
Weird characters on the decor
Actual Food:
There’s a decent amount of similarity between ordering at high-end Italian and Japanese restaurants, two of my favorite kinds of restaurants. For one, you can’t tell if you’re ordering sausage or noodles, and for the other you don’t know if you’ll get a slab of raw tuna or noodles again. It’s a minefield, and it’s only made traversable at the cost of looking like a tourist googling hard-to-spell words on your phone. This is why the picture menu was such a nice development.

One of my friends ordered the monkfish liver, a series of small orange pucks underneath scallions and some bean sprouts. We picked pieces apart with chopsticks and they came apart like paste. The flavor was like a full salmon nigiri; the portion was small but it tasted like a full piece. We also tried it in soy sauce, but the soy sauce flavor drowned out anything the monkfish used to taste like. Sad! Sauce is not always boss, it seems.

Hot Stone Rice Bowl at Basho Sushi in Boston, MA
Stone Egg Hot Rice Bowl... or something

In both places I ordered similar items. At Douzo, I ordered the Ahiru Donburi, which is Japanese for Duck Bowl. At Basho, something called Hot Stone Rice Bowl, which sounds only vaguely like a food item. These were both bowls with rice and veggies and various meats in them, with a fried egg on top. I dig eggs in entrees; sandwich places don’t use it nearly enough. However, the egg was only an obstacle. I’m tryna see the duck and vegetables that I bought, and do not want to deal with leaky yolk over my entire bowl!

Another problem was the duck. I like the taste of duck, it’s not really similar to chicken and has its own aroma. However, whatever sauce or spice was used just drowned out that flavor entirely. The only thing I could taste was whatever sauce was in the rice. The rice was perfect though, I didn’t even notice it but it wasn’t too crunchy or too mushy. I guess that’s the first thing they gotta get right. Anyway, nice bowl regardless.

Ahiru Donburi at Douzo Sushi in Boston.
Why so many pickles?

What really surprised me about my order was the quantity of pickles that accompanied it. Why would anyone want 3 kinds of pickles to eat with an already flavorful dish? Pickles are so strong, and really overpower any flavor of the dish I ordered, just like the soy sauce did to the monkfish. There was a bread-n-butter pickle, some yellow one that tasted weirdly sweet, and then what looked like black foam that was yet another pickle. That last one made me very curious, because there was no telling what plant that pickle was derived from.

Rating:

With unmemorable but filling food and interesting appetizers, Douzo and Basho impress with their carefully styled decor and hidden TVs, giving guests a luxurious, calm environment to enjoy and escape from the Boston summer head outside. 14/16 varieties of pickles.

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