Second Helpings


While Osaka Sushi (see review) might be the kind of place I wish were around when I was still a young, easily intimidated sushi eater, Domo is the kind of place I'm happy to have around now that I'm all growed up and know what I like.

So what do I like? I like the meditative calm that Domo inspires in me from a distance — walking across the parking lot, laying hands on the big, heavy door. I like that there are moments that seem to flow like water — drifty and serene — even when the dining room is full to capacity and the kitchen backed up under a flood of orders for chef/owner Gaku Homma's rare and extremely traditional northern Japanese peasant fare. I like eating out in the garden under the cherry blossoms in spring and staring out into the starkness of the garden, half hidden under drifts of snow, in the winter. I like free stuff (who doesn't?), so appreciate the spread of appetizers and finger foods brought to every table, seven plates that run the gamut from excellent (salmon rolled in tobiko) to inedible (tofu wrapped in eggplant). And I love the fact that no matter where I am, on any night of the week, I can decide to go to Domo and have a few bites of something I probably wouldn't be able to find anywhere else in the country.

The last time I had this urge was a couple weeks ago, on a hot night when I had absolutely nothing more pressing to do than eat a lot of raw fish as slowly as possible — washed down by a powerful and milky sake off Homma's artisan (and rare) sake menu. I ate maguro donburi with wakame over a bowl of rice — the flavors gentle but well-defined, the look rough and rustic yet beautifully presented. As almost always happens at Domo, my server was brusque at first, then dismissive, then just forgetful; I had to remind her to bring my yellowtail wanko sushi with its gloss of searing mustard and then, finally, the bill. But that's okay. Like everyone else I know who comes to Domo almost worshipfully as a place to clear both the head and the palate, I can forgive almost any transgression here. This is not the best restaurant in the city, but it may be the most unique — and it's certainly one of the very few in Denver that I would not want to live without.