Donzoko, Kingly Street, London - be warned!!
I'm not a frequent poster however as a foodie, I feel the obligation to warn fellow hounds about this place.
Having read mixed reviews from the net, I visited Donzoko with excitement and a tinge of trepidation. Upon entering, the Japanese lady owner who greeted us was unfriendly (I was forewarned of her unfriendliness so I wasn't exactly surprised by this). Taking a look around the dining area: the sushi master was working skilfully behind the sushi counter, the walls were decorated with an extensive list of izakaya dishes written on wooden boards, an oden broth was brewing at a corner, and more than 50% Japanese clientele - this place exudes authenticity and looked more promising by the minute. Nothing could have prepared me for what followed on from there.
We ordered Uni (listed as a special of the day) and Kurodai (black sea bream) sushi. The uni was anything but fresh and had an extremely bad aftertaste. Good Uni brings me to heaven but I honestly will not wish bad Uni on anybody - not even my worst enemy. And they had the audacity to charge premium price (£4.20 per piece) for it!! Kurodai was decent but quite frankly, after the bad uni, we had already got off to a bad start - I couldn't get over the fact that it was listed as a "special" of the day.
We then had a few usual dishes like Agedashi Tofu and Nasu Dengaku (aubergine miso) which were mediocre and nothing worth shouting about. The latter was decorated with white miso (as expected) but also shichimi (seven spice) and seaweed flakes (as you would see in okonomiyaki) which was not a bad touch but they should have listed it in the description. My fellow diner couldn't take spicy food (shame, I know) and despite being a big fan of Nasu Dengaku, only took a couple of bites of it.
Saba shio (grilled salted mackerel) followed and as soon as the dish was brought to our table, we could smell the fishiness of the mackerel and it will not take a rocket scientist to figure that the saba was not fresh (most definitely frozen for a very long time...). I didn't even bother eating it although my dining partner bravely conquered a quarter of it before she gave up.
As the menu had an extensive list of Yakitori dishes, I didn't hesitate to order pretty much most of the items listed (chicken thigh, skin, tail, wing, heart, gizzard), hoping (just hoping) that I may have found my answer to satisfying my yakitori cravings in London. They were all underseasoned and some of the chicken pieces were pink and undercooked!!! The heart and gizzards tasted stale as if they belonged to chickens that were slaughtered a month ago, and like the saba, seemed to be grilled straight from the freezer.
We finished off with an ending dish of Tempura Udon. The tempura, to be fair, was probably the most decent thing we had the whole night. But the udon had an aftertaste of burnt plastic and the soup broth tasted like it came straight from one of those bottles you'd buy from a Japanese supermarket.
Suffice to say we only ate half of what we ordered and a lot of dishes were sent back to the kitchen half eaten. The waitress looked slightly hesitant to take the half-eaten dishes away but didn't bother asking if the food was ok. She was more interested in going home (at 10pm sharp) and had already changed into her civilian clothes although there were 4 other tables left.
Some might probably wonder why we didn't make our displeasure known. But when you have the most unfriendly Japanese lady I've ever met giving you dagger looks, waitresses who are more interested in leaving on time, the last thing I needed was battling with them in English and justifying my thoughts. We just wanted to get out of there asap and we left £75 poorer (without paying service charge) and extremely unsatisfied.
You have been warned…