Donguri – Sippin’ It Old Skool

Donguri EntranceNew York’s Upper East Side is a bastion of Old Money, well preserved traditions as well as many well preserved ‘Ladies who Lunch’. Kinda goes without saying that this mostly makes for a decidedly un-hip place to hang out. On my last trip to the UES, my search for sake took me to delightful Donguri Restaurant (309 East 83rd Street 212-737-5656). All outward appearances makes you think that Donguri is a place stuck in the past with it’s somewhat conservative-feeling interior, place setting and waitress uniforms. However, a peek at the sake menu made me see that these guys were squarely focused on quality, not flash in the pan fads.

dewazakura omachiI quickly ordered a sake I had yet to try, namely the Dewazakura “Omachi” Junmai Ginjo (SMV: +5, Acidity: 1.6, Rice: Omachi, Seimaibuai: 50%, Yamagata Prefecture). The “Omachi” in the name stands for Omachi rice, one of the better known strains of sake rice. I really enjoyed this sake and I’m anxious to try it again. My biggest impression was it’s refreshing nature, good structure and a neat touch of crisp fruit opening up with hints of grapes and melon. The finish is dry. I think the rice plays a big role with this sake and it will be fun to learn more about rice in coming months. Give it a try if you can!

Donguri_carafe.jpgThe food at Donguri was also a study in quality. My sashimi was terrific but there was one dish on the menu that kinda stole the show: Sweet Corn Tempura. When the couple at the next table ordered two servings, Scott and I knew we had to investigate. The taste was yummy, sweet and fried – with a pop corn aftertaste. This was one of my favorite foods I’ve ever had. The Omachi Junmai Ginjo worked well with the tempura, and had enough backbone to stand up. Our Waitress confirmed that the Sweet Corn Tempura was a very popular dish. It’s prepared by simple shaving off chunks of corn right from the cob and into the fryer. a revelation!

Corn_Tempura.jpgA bowl of green tea ice cream later and I was in heaven. I left Donguri content and very, very happy with my meal and sake.

This is a restaurant to visit with friends who will appreciate a true Japanese experience at a place where they can’t even spell the word “fusion”.