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Restaurants & Bars

Dohatsuten - new ramen soju tapas place in Palo Alto

K K | Jul 24, 200905:04 PM     1

Dohatsuten is the latest tenant that occupies the former Hattoriya in Mountain View on San Antonio Road.

The interior hasn't changed much, and solo patrons are ushered to the counter area.

Dohatsuten bills itself as a ramen and tapas place, where the tapas are typical izakaya plates, served only during dinner. The kanji for Dohatsuten are Rage, Hair, and Sky and I see additional kanji saying it is a noodle & alcohol place.

For lunch the menu is fairly straightfoward, with a few hints of Kahoo Ramen's menu structure (because of the similarity in offering mini-donburi's or small rice bowl at $3 per). A heads up, there's a cash only policy (at least for lunch, not sure about dinner) at a $7 minimum.

The ramen bowls are on the small side, arguably about the same or a tad bit smaller than the lunch combo set offered at Ryowa Mountain View (the sets that come with rice and gyoza have smaller ramen bowls than if you ordered ramen bowl a la carte).

Anyhow from what I recall, it is mostly your choice of shio (salt) or shoyu (soy sauce) broth ramen. Most bowls are $8 except for Taro ($10) and the cold noodles at $9

- yasai (vegetables)
- chashu (roast pork)
- Taro Ramen (stewed pork belly, not purple taro root...)
- Reisei ramen (cold noodle offering with a side of yuzu dipping sauce)
- yuzumiso ramen (new offering)
- Dohatsuten Ramen (signature bowl with practically all the ingredients, including chashu, ground pork, chives, Korean chili which I didn't taste any) and here you specify shio or shoyu broth

Mini donburi (mostly $3 per)
- kimchi don
- chashu don
- white tuna? don (if I remember correctly albacore)
- salmon sashimi don
- Motsuni don (not for the faint of heart, this is pork stomach)

Sushi rolls (around the $5 to $6 mark I think)
- California roll
- Spicy Tuna roll
- Rock and Roll (Eel and avocado)

Lunch menu states donburi and sushi rolls use brown rice

I peeked at the dinner menu and while there is a modest selection of items, there isn't anything that immediately stands out as unique, other than Nagoya style teba (grilled chicken wings) and this other fried scallop dish. For dinner, the ramen seems a tad bit more expensive and slightly smaller selection.

Tried two bowls today:

1) Yuzumiso ramen - this one came elegantly plated (or bowl'd). A nice miso broth with tones of yuzu and what looked like small chili flakes to give it a kick. Condiments were menma (bamboo shoots), two small pieces of delicious chashu (roast pork), a piece of crispy nori (seaweed sheet), chopped cabbage, and corn. The noodles were obviously outsourced and weren't terribly interesting (curly yellow noodles), but the broth really stood out and made this bowl a decent effort.

2) Dohatsuten Ramen - when I asked the waitress for her recommendation of shio vs shoyu, she said shio was better without batting an eye. The salt tones in the broth were on the strong side, but the broth was very well done with a nice konbu dashi (kelp base broth), and as a later flavored broth, made the other ingredients blend in a lot better. The menma tasted crunchier, the bean sprouts too, and the additions of fresh cut chives was a nice touch. Chashu tasted even better in this bowl. One of the highlights was the small amount of ground pork dispersed in the bowl, which had a nice soft fluffy puffy texture, similar to Taiwanese style rou zou (stewed roast pork) but w/o the soy sauce and rice wine seasonings.

Reviews by others (outside of this board of course) thus are that this place while promising, fails to deliver compared to the known tried and true Maruichi, Ryowa etc. But in a way I beg to differ....Ryowa's salt broth (aka buttercorn) is a hideous abomination, although a half decent entryway, and Dohatsuten's shio broth is easily superior. While Maruichi has better noodles overall, their chashu preps recently have slipped, where they rush the bowls out and not let the refrigerated chashu cook in the broth a bit longer till soft, and I keep getting chewy dry pieces. For those who want to go back to basics and not want to follow the blind crowds of pork bone soup this or that (like at Santa), Dohatsuten is a nice breath of fresh air for the area. For one thing, no dying of thirst problems like after eating at Santa (where MSG is king)

Service is a tad bit spotty but that happens with a lot of new restaurants. My server did the best she could.

While this place won't really pose a threat to Maruichi or Ryowa, it is still a nice addition to the Japanese food landscape. I just wish they would offer a subset of their finest dinner tapas during lunch, for sure I'd rather have the Nagoya style teba as a side rather than fried gyoza or edamame.

Dohatsuten
799 San Antonio Rd
Palo Alto, CA 94303
(650) 493-2878

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