Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Dozo, Valley Point

Dozo brands itself as “fine modern japanesque – a one of a kind modern Japanese concept that offers a decadent multi-course degustation menu offering the best of Japanese, French and European cuisine”. This was an unusual choice for me. A friend who also enjoys eating had gently encouraged me to check it out, and there was the matter of that very high positive rating on hungrygowhere.

However, I had hesitated for a few months, because it seemed a tad overpriced ($39.80 for a 6-course lunch, $59.80 for a 7-course dinner), considering what fine food could be had for less (The French Kitchen, Les Amis). So when an e-voucher for 20% discount at Dozo popped up on my computer screen after I had completed an online banking transaction, it seemed like I could no longer ignore all the nudges to go there. Tucked away on the second floor of the very small Valley Point mall somewhere along River Valley Road, Dozo was quite difficult to locate and we had to climb a flight of stairs to get there. The interior reminded me a bit of a Chinese lounge – dimly lit, with dark reds, browns and blacks dominating the soft furnishing colour scheme. The chatty server quickly explained the system to us – we could only take the 6-course or 7-course set menus, with a choice of 5 to 6 selections under each category.

Starter: No choice given for this one. A platter of a single seared scallop, a small piece of pan-fried foie gras, and smoked salmon. The smoked salmon was overly salty, but otherwise the scallop and foie gras were adequate if somewhat unexciting.

Side Dish: Gratinated escargots topped with yuzu butter; and foie gras chawanmushi topped with black truffle slice. The escargots were not bad, tasty and not chewy, although the yuzu fragrance was drowned out by all the hearty flavours of the escargots and butter. Foie gras chawanmushi was somewhat of a let down, since I couldn’t find or taste any foie gras in it, and the truffle also did not have a strong fragrance.

Soup: Infusion of cepes mushroom and truffle; crab bisque. The mushroom soup was well done – thick and heavily scented without the addition of cream. I also liked the crab bisque, it had a nice texture and just the right amount of “crabbiness”. Crucially, it was not too salty as is wont to happen with crab and lobster bisque.

Main: Beef tenderloin on pu-ye and granite hot stone; crispy Kurobuta pork with onion jam. The pork was alright but there was nothing special about it – it was breaded and deep fried – juicy and sweet but that’s what I would expect for high-class meat. On the other hand, the beef tenderloin was a nice surprise, served rare on a special “pu-ye” leaf laid over a smoking hot granite stone. I didn’t manage to detect if the leaf infused the beef with special flavours but it was certainly fun cooking it to our desired level of done-ness.

Dessert: Warm chocolate cake with ice cream; expresso crème brulee. These are considered fairly standard desserts and the version served here was adequate, although the chocolate used was not really of premium quality.

The drinks were considered one of the six courses – our picks were iced apple mallow melody and hot roselle tea.

Overall, we really enjoyed ourselves at lunch. The dishes were all presented in unexpected and very creative ways, thus adding to the overall visual appeal and fun factor. Not sure that I will return again though, I still think it’s pretty expensive even after the discount, and the quality of the food while decent, is not really premium quality. But it’s certainly worth a try if you’ve not been there before, and are looking for something new.

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