Monday, March 4, 2013


Korean and sushi on the same menu usually sounds alarm bells for me. When a restaurant tries to do both, more often than not they both end up half assed. You either get a Korean chef trying to do maki rolls or a Japanese sushi chef that doesn't know the first thing about kimchi. Needless to say, I was a bit skeptical about our prospects at Doma. The fact that it's in a bit of a wasteland area (18th & Callowhill) doesn't score it any bonus points either.

But oh to my surprise, this little kitchen that could is putting out extremely good renditions on Korean classics and some inventive sushi that rivals any in the city (Morimoto excluded).  We had a hightop table in the back with 8 other people, so got to try lots of great dishes.  Here's some of the highlights. 

dok bok ki
The dok bok ki - a crispy rice cake with roasted onions and spicy kochujang glaze. I ordered this because it looked like the weirdest/most Asian thing on the menu and it delivered.  If you can find a roundeye that even knows what kochujang is (a cousin of kimchi) it's likely they've spent some time near the Korean DMZ.  I absolutely loved the dense yet almost airy rice cake and that chili paste wrapping every bite in it's fiery embrace. The onions add a bit of bite and substance to a great starter. I've never had anything like it. 

edamame w/ spicy garlic sauce
Just to make things interesting, why not throw some spicy garlic sauce on the edamame? Can't hurt right? As you squeeze out each little soybean, your lips get a slather of the slightly numbing chili sauce and a pungent kick of garlic. Don't get these on a first date. You want to make sure you've got it in the bag already before you share these with someone.

korean tacos

The superfood of the food truck scene - Korean tacos! I couldn't help myself.  Had to try them . You get two soft tacos with spicy Asian slaw, and your choice of bulgogi, spicy pork or braised pork belly.  With my newfound knowledge that the Koreans know what they are doing with some grilled beef, we went with the bulgogi and were not disappointed. Soft, tender slivers of marinated beef mix with the cool crunch of carrots and cabbage. Add some sliced jalapenos on top of that spicy slaw, and your taste buds are about to be slapped around and have their hair pulled. Trust me, they want it.   

maki rolls....too many to count
Doma boasts an impressive sushi list that won't cost the kimono off your back. The standard maki rolls are in the $3-$6 range, and the special rolls top out at $16 with most around $12. You can get yourself a serious sushi-baby on here and not break the bank. Oh, they're also BYOB, so stop by the state store and grab a decent bottle of saki or shochu to wash down all the spicy goodness that is coming your way.

Somehow Doma manages to do two distinctly different cuisines exceedingly well. Delicate, nuanced Japanese and strong flavored, tongue scorching Korean.  There's a certain yin & yang element to it that leaves you satisfied and contemplative. It is undoubtedly worth a cab ride from just about anywhere in the city. If you are lucky enough to live in walking distance, you should probably be eating here once a week. 

Food Baby Rating:  Twins!

1822 Callowhill Street
Philadelphia, PA 19130

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