When a new restaurant opens in the fabled Dominion Road precinct, it’s hard not to get excited, – chance of excellent food is high. Doragon Bowl opened early March; and in this era of social marketing, it may come as a no surprise that I read about it on twitter.
Dumpling Club members came to check out the place a couple of weeks ago. The tradition of Japanese eatery wait staff calling out an exuberant welcome when customers enter has well and truly taken hold in Auckland. Though I have to admit, it’s a bit disconcerting when every few minutes three staff yell out ‘Irasshaimase!’
The ramen menu is extensive, but essentially, there are four base options: soy, miso, shiyo (salt) or curry. You choose your type of ramen (Doragon, Vegetarian, Hokkai, Tonkotsu) and add on various toppings. The soy base was not available when we visited. There is also a range of donburi (rice) dishes and side dishes to share.
Glasses of water were quickly provided, and before long, complimentary gyoza arrived at the table. This was an opening special, but just goes to show that Dumpling Club can’t get away from its namesake. The gyozas are filled with lightly seasoned cabbage, and improved markedly with splashes of dumpling sauce (soy sauce and black rice vinegar).
The Doragon (sesame and pork soup base) ramen ($14) is offered in black, red or white versions. All versions are served with miso pork, egg, spring onion, bean sprouts, qinggengcai (bok choy), braised bamboo shoots and garlic sauce. The red Doragon ramen is supposed to be spicy, but even I coped easily.
The Hokkai ramen ($15) has a veggie and pork base, but seemed underflavoured compared to the others. This had generous amounts of vegetables (cabbage, corn, bean sprouts, spring onions and seaweed), ground pork and BBQ pork and came in a massive serving (actually all the servings were large, but this one especially so).
Tonkotsu is a flavoursome unctuous pork soup, with BBQ pork, braised bamboo shoots and shredded wood ear fungus. The shio (salt) base add a subtle depth to the soup, it’s good enough to drink.
The donburi dishes are fantastic as well. The stir-fry pork with ginger ($13) was the pick of the day; the pork was perfectly tender, and delicately sweet/gingery.
Miso katsu don ($13, with choice of pork or chicken) has a great crispy panko crust and savoury miso sauce. Donburi dishes come with complimentary miso soup.
The dishes are plated with care, the flavours are well balanced. The service at Doragon is by far the best I have experienced at any ‘cheap eat’; the wait staff anticipate your needs (water is topped up, extra bowls and cutlery quickly provided, kids are provided their own cartoon melamine crockery). They are friendly, and courteous in the way that only Japanese are. They also have a traditional ice shaver for their desserts, an instrument which reminds me so much of home. Doragon Bowl is a welcomed addition to Dominion Road.
555 Dominion Road, Balmoral, Auckland
Ph: 09 – 630 6090
Opened 7 days for lunch and dinner