Palo Alto’s new Dohatsuten does double duty as a noodle joint by day and an izakaya, or Japanese-style pub, by night.

At lunch, the emphasis is on ramen and mini donburi (rice bowls), plus a few sushi rolls. There’s basic shio (salt) and shoyu (soy sauce) ramen, but “when I asked the waitress for her recommendation of shio vs shoyu, she said shio was better without batting an eye,” K K reports. The broth’s kombu seaweed base brings out the best in the delicious chashu (roasted) pork; there’s some fluffy-textured ground pork scattered in the bowl, plus bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, and chives.

A new specialty is yuzu miso ramen. It’s intricate in subtle ways, says Melanie Wong with citrus notes from the yuzu and some red chile heat overlying the meaty chicken-and-pork broth. It comes topped with bamboo, chashu, chopped cabbage, and corn. The cold ramen, though, “can’t hold a candle” to Ryowa or Maru Ichi.”

Most bowls of ramen at lunch are $8; mini donburi are $3. Rice bowls and sushi rolls both use brown rice.

The small plates at lunch are more of a draw, Melanie Wong says. Hotate (scallop) cream croquette falls apart too easily, but the panko-crusted, deep-fried croquette is a lovely blend of sweet scallop and corn kernels in cream sauce. Nagoya teba sake are a Japanese take on chicken wings, slit through the skin so they fry up extra crispy. There’s also chicken kara age, which is something like popcorn chicken made with juicy boneless, skinless thigh meat in a gingery marinade, lightly battered and fried to a delicate crisp.

No word yet on desserts, but they should be a lot like those at Gochi, where the chef/owner used to work.

Dohatsuten [Peninsula]
799 San Antonio Road, Palo Alto
650-493-2878

Board Link: Dohatsuten - new ramen soju tapas place in Palo Alto

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