When in the midst of a bustling city lined with buildings, finding a serene garden courtyard bordered by ancient Roman walls is gratifying. Doozo Art, Books and Sushi has pinned the ideal spot in Rome where Japanese culture and cuisine can be valued at a most fitting environment. It is a spacious oasis of relaxation where the indoor dining rooms are sprawled upon entry which then leads to a Oriental-style pocket garden shaded with trees. If it’s a zen moment you are seeking, then you entered the right door.
On fine days, dining in the garden is an ideal way to dedicate yourself to the authenticity of a particular cuisine. Japanese kitchen is loved in Rome like in all parts of the world and to find the perfect ambience carries over the experience to a much greater level. In fact, Doozo is not just a restaurant that carries the most popular raw seafood dishes like sushi and sashimi because it carries much more of their culinary culture to the tables. Cooked dishes like karaage (Japanese-style fried chicken), tofu dishes made with otani tofu following the Japanese method of making tofu, soba, yakizakana (grilled fish), soba and udon are just some of the dishes that you will see in the ample menu. An interesting selection of Italian wines and a number from France can accompany the dishes, or better yet, a vast selection of sake and tea will pair well with the food.
Doozo is actually a center for Japanese culture where a bookshop is dedicated to Japanese literature while artists and traditional master craftsmen take part in numerous exhibits. Other than that, events and courses for learning the language, ikebana, origami, and tofu are offered regularly. Minimal in design with bold red and light gray walls, bookshelves with books and objects are pleasant distractions while eating. Doozo’s administrator Masako Tominago is Japanese by origin who has moved to Rome and she has undertaken a mission to spread the Japanese culture in all its forms, from the kitchen to artisans’ handiwork, to Italy.
The protagonist of the kitchen is Chef Endo Kazuhiko, who moved to Rome after spending several years of professional experience in Tokyo. Like Tominago, he has the desire to take the richness of his cuisine to Rome, most especially the little-known dishes using well-selected locally-sourced and genuine Japanese raw materials. He makes sure that the menu, which is changed seasonally, offers dishes to clients with diverse needs like vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free. All the dressings, sauces and soups, with the exception of soy sauce and miso paste, are homemade, without any use of commercial stocks.
“Rice is the soul of sushi. Since we opened Doozo, we have been faithfully following the traditional method of sushi making. We add the home made sushi vinaigrette into freshly cooked rice and take extreme care into mixing the ingredients together. Broths and miso soups are made from dried kelp and katsuobushi (dried skipjack tuna). Our aim is to offer authentic Japanese food in Italy,” states Chef Endo.
There are two kinds of menu, one for lunch which is mostly comprised of lunch sets targeting those who are pressed for time, and a more elaborate dinner menu. For the meantime though, during the implementation of anti-Covid regulations, availability of both menus can be modified. In the lunch menu, various interesting Set Menus and Teishoku (main dish of meat, fish, tofu, etc. plus white rice, miso soup and vegetables) are available. Prices range between €10 for an Udon Set (Udon noodles, 2 sushi rolls and salad) to €26 for a Tempura Sushi Bento (assorted tempura, sushi, side dish and miso soup).
The options for the dinner menu are plentiful starting from the raw dishes: Sushi starting from €5.50 for two pieces of Nigiri to €40 for a big platter suggested for 2 people, while the Sashimi is between €8 to €30 for a mixed assortment and Chirashi (bowls of rice topped with raw fish, vegetables and other ingredients) at €28. The Tofu dishes made with Otani organic tofu are between €4 to €8, Tempura are between €16 to €26, Teriyaki and Yakizakana between €15 to €19 while Udon and Soba are between €14 to €18. Desserts are around €7.