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Mar 25, 2012 02:51 PM

DonDon NotNot NOW Now NoNo

One of my Japanese friends saw the glowing review of DonDon in this week's NOW and got excited. I went for Sunday lunch together with this another Japanese friend and other friend. My Japanese friends have spent their entire working careers in kitchens, including in Japanese restaurants.
After a couple of things I wrote on a napkin " If xxxxxxx-san cooked this, I would be surprised and disappointed". I wasn't stronger because I have very little experience with Japanese cooking, it was only the beginning and from respect for the two companions who did know. Also I am modest , polite and reserved.
But the food got on my nerves, or rather the unrelentingly consistent disparity between the review and the food, and I wrote "Good for the cafeteria at an elementary school"
Towards the end I scratched out "elementary school" and wrote in "kindergarten".
At the end of the meal I asked one of my Japanese friend's opinion and was told "I won't come again". This reserved statement was out of respect to the the third friend who was picking up the tab. I then showed my notes . I was told that the standard in a Japanese elementary school or kindergarten would be higher.
I cannot recall a review where there has been such a great disparity between the enthusiasm of the review and the quality of the food. I don't understand how such a disparity is possible.

So what was the food like? Sweet, overcooked, clumsy, oily, stingy, boring, talentless, left- over like. And something had a huge dose of MSG in it , probably the terror yukki sauce. Nothing, nothing was good. I had a grapefruit at home after.
Oh yes. The prices seem low, but there is so little on the plate that it is expensive even if you were to like the stuff. But here the Jackie Mason joke is wrong and dieting has never been so easy.
The good news is that the lunch menu is limited and what you thought that you would like which had been mentioned in the review is not available at lunch so these items won't disappoint you. But the booze menu is very long and available throughout the day.

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  1. Is this the first Now Magazine restaurant review you've ever read? Cause reliability or even a decent reference point to base their tastes on is usually absent from their write ups.

    Just about the only credible thing they touched on in the interview is calling Don Don "Guu Too"

    "Stocking feet and raw fish, rarely a good mix" thanks, way to alienate an entire culture.

    You know what? The writer had to have been wasted. I bet that's it. Everything tastes good when you're wasted.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

      It was VVm's friend who read the review. I don't think he's so easily misled/persuaded.

      Notorious, I fully agree about NOW reviews. "Stocking feet and raw fish..." Yes, it's called a tatami room sir. You may have seen other people who go to enjoy the food and each other's company sitting in them. However, the one publication who can reliably put bums in seats after a review is NOW. Go figure.

    2. Any one working for a publication and writes a 'glowing review' on Don Don should be fired and then go have his/her head and taste buds examined!!!

      1. David Ort (FoodWithLegs) just gave a pretty positive review just this afternoon -

        1. The original comment has been removed
          1. Has anyone been to Don Don recently? Have they been able to work out any of the kinks?

            1 Reply
            1. re: bringonthelbs

              Unfortunately I find it's going the other way. We've visited every few months since it opened and while the food was never exceptional it used to be fairly reliable in a guilty-pleasure sort of way. But lately some of the dishes have been pretty shoddy and even unappealing.

              The place is always so busy they often just seem to be in the weeds. It's a handy option to meet some friends for drinks and snack on a few things, but overall the food quality is nowhere near as good as Guu or my one visit to Kingyo.