Monday, January 30, 2012

Fine Dining on a Budget at Dozo Fine Modern Japanesque

Dozo has many usages in the Japanese language but for the context of this restaurant it could possibly be taken as "here you are, please go ahead ... and EAT!"

Located on the 2nd floor of the Valley Point Shopping Centre, Dozo, like it's sister establishment Tao, offers up a 6- or 7- course set meal with a half-dozen choices for each course. You get to then play a mini game of mix-and-match, pairing up each course with what your taste buds (and tummy) feel like having for the day :)

Initial perceptions are that the decor is nice and classy without being pretentious; however upon sitting down and looking around it's painfully obvious that all the small stuff has very obviously not been sweated. Cheap tables, wobbly, chipped tableware, faded & scratched wallpaper & months-old dust on the window sills and floor corners - things that most definitely do not belong in a fine dining restaurant.

But then again, at SGD39.80++ for the 6-course lunch / $59.80++ for the 7-course dinner, perhaps I'm nit-picking a little too much. We'll see whether the food justifies us overlooking these shortcomings as we browse the menu while nibbling on these delightful mini bread sticks (or not ... I'm not too sure what they actually are. They did sort of taste like some variation of pasta as well).

Having conveyed our choices to the waiter, we cleanse our palettes and whet the appetite on the Yuzu Sorbet. It's the same sorbet as served in Tao, except it's more artfully presented here.

Moving on to the oddly named Chef's Selection of Assorted Platter, which comprises of three separate amuse bouche-type dishes of Scallop with Yuzu Foam, Foie Gras on Bread with Raisin and Smoked Salmon with Cream, listed in the chef-recommended eating order. Our favorite by far was the Foie Gras; the natural taste of the liver went very well with the crunchy mini crouton and a hint of sweetness from the raisin.

Moving on to the side dishes: more foie gras with the Foie Gras Chawanmushi topped with Black Truffle Slice and Stewed Beef Tendon with Puff Pastry. The Chawanmushi was silky smooth, with a foie gras aftertaste throughout the entire bowl, but I'm not so sure of how the mini slice of Truffle ties in to the dish.

No such identity problems with the Beef, which comes beautifully presented with a puff pastry circle and mashed potato croquette. Beef was well stewed and flavored, too!

Moving on to the soups: The darling's Crab Bisque Cappuccino is served with a warning that the crab claw is for purely ornamental purposes - no doubt to avoid any recurrence of patrons trying to chew on an inedible claw. It's even more interesting when you drink - the soup is served in a cup and is meant to be sipped like a coffee. Thick, and foamy and bursting with crab flavor; however for non crab eaters it does overwhelm a bit towards the end.

My Infusion of Cepes Mushroom with Truffle comes with yet another mini slice of truffle on the side (which I didn't care much for), and a generous dollop of truffle oil in the soup (which I did). I thought that the truffle oil added a wonderful taste and aroma to the soup without overpowering the mushrooms.

The first of our main courses, the Beef Tenderloin on "Pu-Ye" and Granite Hot Stone comes immaculately presented with a horseradish sauce and garnished with (edible) tempura pasta. It's tender & flavorful & is served a beautiful medium rare. One slight problem though - because the stone is hot, the beef continues to cook while you're eating, so those of us who spend an hour taking photos of our food before digging in will find that the last few slices are close to medium-well by the time we're almost finished :)

The Kurobuta Pork Cheek with Onion Jam was nowhere near as well presented, but possibly tasted even better. Flavorful kurobuta pork so tender that you can easily eat this without a knife, given a wonderful crunchy texture courtesy of the cheese/bread crumbs/random herbs/mayo topping. And maybe some tempura bits. Heavenly.

The second last "course" served are the drinks - we shared a pot of Iced Fruity Refresher (a little on the sweet side) and Hot Lavender Tea (with mint). Can you really consider drinks as one "course?" Hmmmm ...

Final course of our lunch was the dessert - for which I chose the French Cream Cheese Cake. It's served on half of a floor tile (I'm not kidding - this isn't a fancy plate that happens to look like a floor tile. It is a floor tile), which may or may not bother you. Oh, the cake was rather nondescript.

Final Dish: Dozo's Freshly Baked Warm Chocolate Cake served with Ice Cream, nicely crusted on the outside with a warm runny chocolate centre. Solid end to a great meal =)

Overall, Dozo doesn't disappoint. The ingredients used, as you've noticed, aren't really that premium, but the chefs have worked well within the pricing confines to put out a solid fine dining lite menu. Dinner comes with an extra "Cold Dish" course with some tempting choices like the Beef Tataki with Shaved Parmesan and Truffle Mayo Mosaic or the King Crab Claw Salad drizzled with Sesame Vinaigrette, at $20 extra.

Dozo is located in the Valley Point Shopping Centre. It's easiest to get there by taxi or car, but if you're looking to save a few dollars on transport, take the MRT to Outram Park, exit at the Outram Road exit, walk across the street and take bus #970 (about 7 stops). Non halal.


  1. oooh, at first glance, the food could pass off for french instead of japanese! really elegant-looking stuff, either way :D

  2. The pricing is pretty good too. I mean, considering that kaiseki and degustation menu's at other more prestigious joints in the city can go to frankly quite ridiculous prices (like kunio tokuoka's sgd750 sets).