Monday, June 11, 2012 0

Don Don Izakaya - not that similar to Guu after all.

By kc in ,

Finally posting up my review on Don Don Izakaya. AHHHHH. Where do I start? OK, location: Don Don is located on Dundas Ave, right beside my favourite Chatime.

Don Don has a very similar decor, atmosphere and feel as Guu Izakaya. The biggest difference between the two in this aspect I'd say would be that Don Don is much less crowded, smaller waiting lines, and less of that famous cheerful Guu attitude from its waitresses and staff.
Truth be told, I was reeeeeeally excited to try Don Don, mainly because I was excited by the recent izakaya trend/craze in Toronto. More competition to drive prices lower and quality higher? YES PLEASE. And news had even traveled to my mom about this place - which effectively means, I have to go.

Noriwasa/Wasabi flavoured seaweed chips ($3.00). These pieces of tempura-coated seaweed are much thicker than what I had in mind (which were the packaged snack ones you find in Asian supermarkets). Crispy with a nice kick from the wasabi mayo. A good first dish to share.

Tokyo Style Hot Dog ($5.20) - pork and kimchi. What sounded like a cool dish, ended up flopping big time for us. The biggest disappointment was the pork hot dog - not only was it bland in flavour, it was cut in half horizontally. So you really just get half a hot dog with lots of kimchi, which is a skewed ratio. Overall, this dish just didn't come together as well as it sounded. Perhaps they should try pulled pork + kimchi? Cause I'm sure that would taste awesome!

Fwhat-fwhat pork ($8.00). I think we were more intrigued by the name than the food itself. And we had fun pronouncing it :) Again, this was a miss instead of a hit. I imagined fatty pork on a moist, freshly steamed bun married together by hoi sin sauce. Reality instead was dry, skinny pork on a soggy bun (like the way bread gets soggy when you microwave it) with sauce. I also ordered mine without cilantro.

Seafood Udon ($7.60) with a mountain of bonito flakes. The squid was quite juicy. Other than that, it was very average. Nothing like the udon at Guu, in case you're wondering.

Eggplant Chicken Au Gratin ($6.80). This looked very unique at an izakaya, so we decided to see how it would fare (and to fill us up with carbs). Of course, au gratin tends to be very heavy. However, this dish was mostly just cream - a plate of gloopy cream with chicken and eggplants on top. It was left mostly untouched throughout the meal.

Avocado Croquette ($4.50). Probably the best dish of the night I'd say. Crispy, breaded skin on the outside and creamy avocado and corn on the inside. I was surprised that they actually fried the halved avocado with the skin still on to hold its shape, so beware of that!

Our bill came up to ~$54 including taxes and tips, which is only $13.40 per person (everyone was full).

After that, I wanted to give Don Don a second chance and try some more dishes to get a better idea of them. So I went again!

Tako wasabi ($3.50). The wasabi is not as strong as Guu's but still decent.

Don Don special black croquette ($7.00). It's a breaded potato cake with squid ink to achieve the special black colour. The menu says that the filling also has shrimp and cod roe but they were almost non-existant. Sure, it was very creamy with a crispy outside but the filling could use a little more flavour.

Skewers combo ($6.00). The skewers combo consists of one of each of the skewer offered.
From left to right: asparagus and bacon, oyster-mushroom and bacon, beef, pork and green onion and chicken. All were very average; I wouldn't order any of them again unless I was really craving yakitori. And even then, I'd probably just order one.

Steamed Shabu Shabu ($7.20). It was marked with the red "recommended" text on the menu, so we decided to give it a try. The portion was really small; they only had a few slices of pork on top of a large bed of chopped lettuce. The pork itself was OK, not as fatty as I hoped (like the amazing ones I had in Osaka). The dipping sauces were also very average.

Ginger fried chicken ($6.80). This was not bad, after all it's fried chicken. However, both JT and I agreed that Guu's karaage was better.

Both times we went to Don Don, we didn't order dessert. Reason is because we already had plans going to Chatime next door right after!! Haha.

If I had to summarize Don Don, it would be that it's like... the alternative to Guu that you go to when you want to eat at an izakaya but don't have that much money to spend and don't mind settling for lower quality food. Essentially, you pay for what you get - cheaper prices, lower quality. It makes sense this way. However, if you want to eat at an izakaya and you don't mind spending more money for better food, then by all means, Guu is where you should be going.

Don Don Izakaya
130 Dundas St W
Toronto, ON M7A 2C7
(416) 492-5292

Monday to Thursday: 11:30 AM - 12 AM
Friday: 11:30 AM - 1 AM
Saturday: 12:30 PM - 1 AM
Sunday: 12:30 PM - 12 AM

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