In a way, I grew up eating sushi. It wasn’t as frequent a dinner at my parents’ house as, say, meatloaf would be in my classmates’, but I’ve been eating it as long as I can remember. When I was much younger though, I was irrationally scared of the sheets of dried seaweed and their strangely unsettling crinkly cellophane packaging; my mother used to make sure there were few pieces of salmon and tuna sashimi for me while she assembled her ingredients for rolling maki. I got over my unreasonable fear of seaweed eventually — now I actually kind of love it. These days, Japanese cuisine is high on the list as being one of my favorites, so when my friend Beth suggested Douzō for dinner, I didn’t have to think about it before excitedly clapping my hands.
We decided to start with a warm appetizer, since we knew we would be sharing a few different types of sushi. Because Duozō is known for putting an eclectic spin on traditional Japanese fare, the obvious choice were the gyoza — conventional pork-filled dumplings ($6.25). The gyoza, which are available pan-fried or steamed, are common throughout Asia; we chose to get ours fried, not even for a moment considering the vaguely healthier option. Though the dipping sauce gave the gyoza a nice gingery bite, ultimately there was nothing special about the dumplings. They were perfectly fine, but that was all.
The sushi, on the other hand…
Duozō offers a wide variety of choices in sushi, ranging from the ubiquitous (California rolls, avocado maki, spicy tuna) to the inventive (asparagus wrapped with tuna and salmon, crab-topped tempura, scallops layered with kiwi and caviar). Beth and I considered the menu before agreeing to share the rainbow roll (shrimp, crab stick, tobiko, and spicy mayonnaise wrapped with tuna, salmon, white fish and avocado, $12.95), the coconut eel roll (snow crab and cucumber wrapped with eel and sprinkled with coconut, $15.95) and the amaebi mango roll (grilled pineapple and cucumber wrapped with sweet shrimp and mango, $13.95).
After sampling each type, I was surprised to discover that I liked the coconut eel the most. It just so happens that I love eel (unagi, anago… it doesn’t matter) but it also happens that I hate coconut. That last part isn’t entirely true: I love coconut flavor, it’s the texture I could do without. This roll though, with its mix of two vastly different kinds of sweetness, fruity and rich, was astounding. I’m surprised Beth and I were able to so maturely split the portion in half.
My second favorite, also surprisingly, was the rainbow roll. Before trying it, I had been a bit apprehensive about it; the litany of components on the menu made it seem quite intimidating. After all, Duozō lists eight, and that’s before the rice. I shouldn’t have been so worried, as each ingredient complimented the next so nicely; we all but plowed through it.
I had been certain that the amaebi mango roll would blaze past the other two as the darling of the dinner, but it actually turned out to be my least preferred. That’s not to say that the roll wasn’t immensely flavorful and enjoyable, because it was very much so. It just paled in comparison to its platemates. The mango and amaebi, while altogether wonderful, simply couldn’t compare to the amazing shock of the coconut and eel or the rainbow roll’s harmoniousness.
Aesthetically, Duozō is a really cool space with lofty ceilings and low-slung banquettes. Even if the sushi wasn’t so interesting and tasty, I think it’s worth it just to stop by for a drink at the bar, which is something I plan to do again and again.
131 Dartmouth Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02116