2 mins after exiting South 101 San Antonio Road,a floor to roof orange banner flapping in front of a small box house will catch your attention. Dohatsuten is a new Japanese fusion tapas and ramen lunch option for Palo Altoians. The lunch crowd packed the small restaurant and flooded the outdoor benches.
*Note: The restrooms are outside around the building, like a gasoline stop but the bathroom is clean, pastel colored and painted leaf stencils.
They are opened until 10 pm every night and 12am on Fridays and Saturdays. Whoo Hooo! Another non fast food place for late night eats. Nothing on the menu is over $10, a lot of room to play with dishes to share and try but the ticket will add up.
First up is the $6 5 piece Steamed Ankimo (monk fish liver) in ponzu sauce. The slices are about a quarter inch thick and very tender, crumbling with a touch of the chopsticks.
The $7 Hotate (sea scallops) and corn croquettes are good but the mayonnaise/cream overpowered the scallops, a little under fried as it wasn’t crispy enough.
The $6 Chicken Karaage is fried with the fat and skin, I took a big bite and realized it was dripping fat, I’m not a fan of chicken skin. The batter is not tempura or panko style but a soft crunchy dough, a shake of salt after the fryer who have helped the bland factor. The chicken is intended to accompany mayonnaise but I found the dish already too greasy.
Now for the star of the night: The $8 Dohatsuten Signature ramen in soy broth, a slice of chashu, chives, bean sprouts, minced pork, bamboo shoots and threads of Korean chili. Remember, Donhatsuten is a tapa joint so the bowl is smaller than other ramen places.
They use curly wavy ramen noodles cooked “with a bite”, a favorite of mine and rarely seen on my adventures of eating ramen. The broth is clear, no bits of fat floating and the flavor is rich, very clean; clean enough to taste the kombu dashi tones. The Korean chili threads were an interesting garnish as it was spicy when eaten but it did not penetrate throughout the bowl. The soup was piping hot, an excellent bowl of ramen, I believe one of the best in the Bay.
Donhatsuten is focused on alcohol with a large selection of beer, sake and soju. The dinner menu/Japanese tapas are not offered at lunch. The lunch menu includes ramen and mini donburi bowls and a few sushi rolls all made with brown rice. The owner/chef use to work at Gochi in Cupertino, one of my all time favorite restaurants.
799 San Antonio Rd
Palo Alto, CA 94303