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Published February 17th 2013
Down to DonToo (for ramen and bento)
DonToo Restaurant is one of those quietly unobstrusive places that don't reveal their gems and charm until one takes the time to come in and sample the fare. Located along Little Lonsdale, its facade is a simple glass front, its name stenciled inconspicuously on one side.
Come in and you can feel the unassuming vibe, from the sparse decor to the wooden stools and tables. The staff is friendly and the service is quick. But what creates the initial impression is the cabaret jazz music that's softly playing in the background - something that you don't usually hear in Japanese restaurants, and makes you think that there's something special about this place.
They serve bento boxes (which is rice and your selection of a chicken/pork/seafood dish, and usually served with pickled vegetables) for lunch, and ramen dishes (which are traditional noodles served in a broth with varying selections of ingredients) for dinner. I had the kuon ramen (roast pork, vegetables, and seasoned egg) and it was hearty and very tasty. Most of their ramen dishes include pork but their Napoli ramen and laksa ramen are innovative twists incorporating non-traditional Japanese ingredients. A nice surprise on the menu is the salmon carpaccio, which was served in a delicious vinaigrette that had hints of aged balsamic vinegar. Another side dish worth getting is the gyoza, which was tasty and filling, and perfect with the ramen. They have a varied selection of drinks, including a house red/white and, of course, sake, that go well with your order.
But I think the best compliment that can be given to this restaurant is my Japanese friend's comment - that the ramen dishes taste as good as the ones they make back home.