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Douzo report

Had my first meal at Douzo this weekend - looking for a decent sushi place in Boston proper, somewhat less expensive than Oishii and O Ya. I have seen this place talked up on the boards so decided to give it a shot. Overall I was fairly disappointed in the quality of the fish and the execution of most of the sushi. This seems more of a place designed for people to look and feel fashionable but the sushi is very much sub-par - no better than, say, a decent neighborhood spot like Bluefin. The prices certainly aren't justified here.

This place relies very heavily on the gimmicky rolls with a zillion crazy ingredients. Way too much spicy mayo, cream cheese, and Kobe beef being thrown around here. Having lived in Japan, my tastes in sushi tend towards the more minimalist with one or two flavors dominating. Here you can get a roll with three kinds of fish, tobiko, cucumber, mayonnaise, ponzu sauce, avocado, and a jalapeno pepper slice on top (perhaps I am exaggerating but I might not be too far off the mark). The net result is that you can barely taste the fish, which is hardly worth tasting anyway (see below). The "torch" rolls (which I assume means the sushi is seared) takes away from the flavor even further.

The quality of the fish is nothing to write home about. Most of the nigiri were almost flavorless, everything was served at the wrong temperature (far too warm in my opinion), with too much wasabi underneath. None of the wonderful flavors of the fish came out. Given that most people are going to dunk their piece in a bath of soy sauce before eating it, I guess it doesn't matter here, but I was very disappointed in the toro - which was warm and the texture ruined by the overzealous sushi chef who mashed each piece down with their fingers to get it to adhere to the rice. At $8.50 a piece I'd like someone more experienced handling the toro, please.

While I'm on the topic I wonder what folks think of Osushi, just down the street? Same deal or worth checking out?

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  1. Okay, I went to Douzo and was not too impressed myself. But seriously, Bluefin? Either Douzo has gotten a lot worse, or Bluefin has gotten a *lot* better. But it does sound like your sushi was over-handled, or sitting around getting warm before it got to you (but it sounds like you were at the bar).

    I think the special rolls and stuff are what they're known for, so I guess you need to be looking for that kind of thing when you go there. I may have made the same mistake, ordering more traditional fare. But seriously, Bluefin??

    1. I have had many lunches there and have been very happy. For $15 you can get an amazing box lunch which includes sashimi, a great salad with miso dressing, a rice dish and some sort of traditional japanese dish (tonkatsu, etc...) Delish! Also, for 8.95 you can get the teriyaki salmon with salad and rice! Great price and very good. I love the place.

      1. I am a bit suprised that you are so disappointed with Douzo. I wouldn't say I love Douzo but I think their price is acceptable for the quality of the food and their prime location. I had the Tuna belly before. It was a little chewy but still ok. I think Douzo is a little better than Fugayu in Brookline.

        I haven't tried Osushi yet. I think I would rather save the money and go to Oishii.

        1. I haven't been to Osushi in awhile though I used to find it similar to Douzo. I go to Douzo regularly for my sushi fix but I almost always order the same thing every time I go (spicy tuna roll, salmon sashimi and either crazy maki or some other shrimp maki with crab on top) and I think they do these things well.

          1. i liked douzo quite alot when it first opened, and the executive chef has been feeding me elsewhere for many years. however, in the last few months, i think they've taken a serious slide downwards. i rarely ordered the designer makis, so can't really comment. but my last 5 or 6 visits were very disappointing. i agree everything was served too warm. with the exception of the unagi on my last visit. my plate took so long to prepare, the unagi was cold by the time i got it. ack.

            there was a very hands-on manager in the beginning who always made a point of saying hello when he saw me. which was 3 or 4 times a month, and we always talked about the business. i haven't seen him in a very long time and feel there must be a connection between his departure and the worsening quality of the food.

            4 Replies
            1. re: hotoynoodle

              Do you also think the opening of Oishii/o ya hurt them, or is this purely an internal matter?

              1. re: tatamagouche

                those 2 are looking to hit $100 pp check average. douzo is looking to hit $35 pp. apples and oranges. the place remains very busy, so i think it's something else.

                hey, aren't you out west yet? ;)

                1. re: hotoynoodle

                  Yeah, but that board can't keep up with my obsession...sigh...

              2. re: hotoynoodle

                The gentleman you are referring to is named Jack, and he is the owner. He is still much very the owner and has not left. He has taken a few trips this summer, but I have not been in there once when at least one of he, his wife or their GM was not working the front of the house.

              3. I don't think you're alone. I think the sushi at Douzo is ok, better than a lot of local places, but far from the best. Their prices are also a bit high for what you get, and I chalk that up to the wholel Back Bay lounge-y scene.

                I do like that their menu is wider than the typical Japanese place, so they do get points from me for offering something a little different.

                Not 1st hand experience, but from a good friend who's dined at Osushi - sushi is acceptable, but service is s.....l.....o......w (particularly for the work lunch crowd).

                1 Reply
                1. re: kobuta

                  i've had more misses than hits at o-sushi and the service is painfully slow at any time of day. it's also on the upper end of pricey for that level of just ok sushi. i've been maybe 6 or 7 times? definitely not in my regular rotation.

                  samurai has just opened in the old guyhama space on boylston. i've been twice and it looks promising. lots of bumps still, but i'm keeping my fingers crossed. considerably less expensive than either douzo or o-sushi.

                2. It is hard to find serious edo-mae sushi in the area (been getting on a plane for those until I find something worthwhile in the area), and I definitely would not count Douzo among the places that do this well; they certainly lack the technique for that. But on the other hand, for "Californianized" sushi and rolls I think they do that well and it appears to be the style they're aiming for.

                  1. Comparing Douzo to Bluefin is just silly. I live close to Bluefin, and I wish the fish approached the quality of Douzo.

                    1. if you mean Bluefin in Porter Square, you've got to be kidding. Douzo is a level above Bluefin at least...bland tiny pieces of sushi was my opinion of Bluefin...

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Spike

                        That's exactly the point of my comparison - I was really not impressed with the quality of the fish at Douzo. (I will say that my last experience at Bluefin was reasonable, though - it's not THAT bad...)

                        1. re: Sgt Snackers

                          Sometimes I'm in the mood to be a sashimi purist, but at Douzo I really enjoy some of the "designer maki" offerings. Especially the one with tuna belly, spicy mayo, avocado, scallions, tempura crunchies, and thinly sliced jalapeno on top. Fresh fish, well-conceived textural and flavor interplay, and creativity. It's a different sushi cuisine from the ultra-serious places, and I think Douzo does it very well. (Roughly on par with Fugakyu, IMO, though maybe just slightly superior...) And what a nice space to dine in!

                          That said, I haven't been in a few months. Maybe they're having some QC issues?

                          1. re: Sgt Snackers

                            You said "sushi is very much sub-par - no better than, say, a decent neighborhood spot like Bluefin". I contend that your observation is way off base as the sushi at Douzo (even on their worst night) blows Bluefin away.

                        2. I'm pretty much with Sarge on this one. My first visit to Douzo was maybe two months after they opened. My immediate impression was that there was a lot more effort going into being trendy than serving excellent sushi. I chalked it up to the shakedown period and moved on

                          I have to admit that I prefer simple sashimi or nigiri to elaborate rolls so maybe I'm not the target audience. A few weeks ago my Wife's 20 something cousin and her boyfriend were in town and the cousin adores sushi. I thought we would give Douzo another shot for the hip/ trendy factor, and hopefully a good meal.

                          After tallying up what I would have ordered a la carte , I chose the Chirashi (Typically a variety of sashimi served on a bed of sushi rice with some accompaniments like pickles or seaweed) dinner which seemed as though it might be a good value. Generally I'm not a fan of the "chef's choice" offerings, but I figured it would be an opportunity to showcase some basic fish.

                          It's a pretty typical that when ordering a sushi/ sashimi special of sorts that the result is a relatively pedestrian selection with a "low end" item included. The sashimi pieces were large, but flavorless and a bit dried. It had not only tomago (omlette), but 2 imitation crabs sticks ( and very poor ones)...seriously? for $28? The only fish that was decent was the Hamachi (yellow tail) the rest I could have done as good if I had grabbed a pack of prepared sushi from Stop& Shop.

                          I know this place has its fans, and it is a very cool space/ concept, but it's not for me.

                          Just to provide a frame of reference, some of the places I do like are places like Oga's (Framingham) Sushi Island (Wakefield), Ginza (C-Town) and I've had some pretty good experiences at Fugakyu.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Food4Thought

                            FWIW, I like Oga's sushi/sashimi better than Douzo's as well but Douzo is more convenient for us and has the better fancy rolls which we sometimes like to do.

                          2. Idined with two companions a few weeks ago. It was pretty much no holds barred. But the saddest thing was, we ordered a sashimi special for big bucks...i honestly forget the fish right now, but they stressed how rare it was, and the fish only yielded two sashimi servings, displayed with the delicate skeleton, head and tail. i asked if the kitchen could dep fry the skeleton, as has been the custom in many places I have visited. The waiter checked, and said the kitchen wouldn't do it, becasue they had nothing to do with any sushi bar peparations...i found the whole thing very un-Japanese...And, unlike other posters, I really don't think he price is reasonab;e for what you get. I think our order of ankimo contained about 10 cents worth....