Thursday, January 21, 2010

Duozo, Spot-On Japanese in Boston

I first wandered into Duozo near Copley Mall a year or so ago and had a lovely late lunch.  Since then, I've been meaning to return to experience more from their menu.  I don't remember the Bento Box lunch specifically, but I do remember that the food was fresh and lovingly prepared with the right seasoning and an impeccable sense of balance.  I've always admired the simplicity of Japanese food for those very reasons, but in the hands of an amateur, this can go woefully wrong. To find a place that really succeeds is a wonderful thing.  My impromptu pre-theater meal at Duozo was delicious from start to finish and was served up by an attentive and knowledgeable staff.

The atmosphere is sleek and sexy and it's easy to see why there is a little bit of a pick-up scene at the bar where I enjoyed my meal.  There were plenty of attractive young women sipping martinis and eating spicy tuna rolls.  The best entertainment of the evening began as the single (and married in a few cases!) business men rolled in around 6:00 after work and the flirtations began.  People-watching is, of course, a favorite pass-time of mine.  Although I didn't really make a lot of conversation with my bartender, I was provided with plenty of entertainment by his interaction with others while eavesdropping.  He was a master of making people feel at ease and provided a congenial attitude that the patrons were responding to with ample cause.

The meal that I had was a knock-out even at Back Bay, Boston prices.  I began with a delicate shiitake mushroom broth served piping hot in an elegant free form porcelain bowl.  I enjoyed the lightness and warmth of the broth and the concentrated mushroom flavor of the dish as a whole.  Next was a miso-glazed Black Cod appetizer that is a standard for a restaurant like this. The flavors were as expected and the fish properly cooked, juicy but flaked easily enough for me to eat it with my chop sticks just as I felt it should have. I ended with a "beef roll" which is usually called a negimaki.  Another classic: strips of torched beef wrapped around scallions topped with teriyaki sauce.  I like the addition of sesame oil and I found it gave the dish a little more dimension than versions I've had in the past.  I washed the meal down with a delicious Riesling by August Kesseler, one of my favorite producers.

The next time I return, I think I will pay the premium price for some of the more adventurous dishes.  Duozo has certainly earned my trust and respect, and I know that spending money there will be a treat rather than regretful.  I will also plan on delving into the sake list with my next meal.  I'm always eager to learn more about Japanese food and drink, and Duozo seems to deliver a quality authentic product.  Check it out for a fabulous meal if you love modern Japanese cooking paired with some fantastically delicious people-watching.  Bon appetit!

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