Far from the glitz and glamour of some of the other restaurants in town, like IKI or The Barn, the old timber building that Don Don is housed in has that old and charismatic ‘feel’ to it. The 2013/2014 season saw major interior renovations, changing from a small basement shack to a much larger area in the same building, however, still retaining the same rustic Japanese charm.
Don Don describes itself as a donburi restaurant, which is simply a rice bowl with various toppings, but it is quite a bit more than just that. There are certainly no shortage of rice bowls to choose from – 14 in fact. They have options for most dietary requirements, with options including the standard Pork Katsu-don (deep-fried pork cutlet, with eggs and sweet soy sauce), to a simple Don Don Yakimeshi (fried rice), to the extravagant Tempura-don (fish and vegetable tempura).
But, Don Don isn’t content with just serving up heaped bowls of steaming rice, the experience is an informal and relaxing place to go, eat, drink and catch up with friends – the izakaya (Japanese bar) style of meals.
As such, the menu includes all the regular Japanese pub food, such as Zangi (Hokkaido-style fried chicken), Edamame, Fried Potato, Tofu Salad and Sashimi to name but a few.
They also have a range of delicious and hearty Nabe (hot pots) that cook on the table in front of you, which is a fun experience if you’ve never tried it before.
And, if that wasn’t enough, they also have a charcoal fired yakitori grill, serving up juicy treats on a stick (pork, chicken, lamb, vegetables). Even though the charcoal grill is confined to its own small space, the smell of the fire and the roasting meat manages to escape to fill the restaurant with its intoxicating aroma.
It wouldn’t be a Japanese pub without the alcohol, so apart from the usual draft beers and Japanese saké, they have a range of their own special cocktails, including a Margarita, Mojito, Mai Tai and Caesars. They also have their own signature drink, the Bull Dogs, which features tequila, Triple sec, lime juice, and a whole bottle of Japanese beer balancing in the glass.
So, as you can see, even though their slogan is ‘No Rice, No Life’ Don Don really is more than just bowls of rice.