May 8, 2015
The most elegant Japanese lady (and I use that word advisedly) urged me to try Donguri on the upper east side. It's not a part of town I often eat in, and last night, looking for a place near hospital row I suddenly remembered how much I liked the last meal I had there..
It's an odd restaurant for New York. The small room is spare without being modern, and it lacks a single spark of chic. Looking around, the word "dowdy" comes to mind.
But there is nothing frumpy about the food. The menu is small, prices high. But everything they serve is seasonal, considered, and of extremely high quality. It made me think of a few small restaurants I've visited in Japan.
To start, a lovely little round of homemade tofu. Creamy. Cool. As spare and unapologetically itself as the restaurant itself.
And ankimo – monkfish liver – the foie gras of the sea. Chefs often try to disguise the faint fishiness of the liver, concentrating on the smooth luxurious texture. This ankimo is as suave as any I've eaten – but it revels in its piscine nature. No disguise here.
Next came that sashimi plate at the top. Totally lovely. And finally what was, for me, the piece de resistence: donburi of sea urchin and yama imo, the wonderful mountain potato. It's a tangle of textures – smooth, slippery, a bit of bite – and extremely opulent flavors. This is not a dish you'll find very often in New York – but then Donguri does its best to forget what is waiting just outside the door.
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