Apparently, one of my criteria for my friends is that they must have an April birthday. April is full of birthday celebrations, and last Saturday I found myself with two birthday parties (disclaimer: normally I am not this popular) to attend. The second celebration was at Jack Rose, and I arrived around 6pm which was right in the middle of their rooftop Saturday happy hour ($5 beers, and $7 whiskey). As I have said before, I do not think there is one specific appropriate time for a bloody mary. This means 6pm on the Jack Rose rooftop is the perfect time in my opinion for some tomato juice and bourbon ( because bourbon > vodka when it comes to me and my bloodies, actually bourbon > vodka when it comes to life). After sucking down two of these, I found myself relatively buzzed and absolutely starving. This might have been due in part to my conversations with Jay, someone I always find myself discussing food with. I mentioned to him that I needed to eat, and he suggested leaving the bar in the middle of the celebration to grab some food in Admo, a neighborhood we both do not go to often. I suggested Donburi, which he (surprisingly) told me he had never heard of but was down to try. To be fair, I get a little aggressive when someone starts questioning my food suggestions. At first Jay told me hesitantly, “Well, are you sure it’s good…..? I just have never read about it or heard about….” I started getting defensive and responded quickly, “it’s not my fault if you’re ignorant.” Despite this, he said he would be open to eating there with me. I made a mental note to be nicer.
We dipped out of Jack Rose quickly and walked the three blocks up to Donburi which was packed. However, with no alcohol license here, people seem to move in and out of the restaurant fairly quickly and we were seated within 10 minutes. We started with the barbecued eel with pickled ginger and radishes.to start. The eel is cooked with a blow torch, which results in this delicious caramelized flavor. We inhaled this appetizer and eagerly waiting our rice bowls.
Jay got the kaarage (chicken) donburi while I ordered the mix katsudon with panko-crusted pork and panko-crusted shrimp. Everything is cooked to order, so our food came out freshly fried. The extremely hot shrimp and pork were served over a generous serving of rice, along with pickled vegetables and caramelized onions. Then the cooks placed a soft boiled egg on top of everything. The sunny yolk mixed into the bowl created an incredibly rich, creamy texture that was so comforting in my stomach after a few drinks. This was first time getting the fried meat, and I found it absolutely amazing. I am not sure I can go back to getting the sashami (although it is probably slightly healthier, but who cares at 9pm on a Saturday night? Healthiness goes hand in hand with regret on Monday morning). Using panko results in a light, crunchy crust, while the meat itself was slightly sweet and perfectly juicy. The crunchy pickled vegetables and peppers added a nice kick to each spoonful. Of course, I can’t forget about the mayo. The spicy mayo-based sauce on the counter is so delicious. We probably used half a bottle between the Jay and I. I poured it directly into my bowl, but also dipped each bite of meat into extra mayo as well. Each satisfying bite was also covered in the sweet donburi sauce, which is similar to a reduced teryaki.
One of my favorite things about Donburi is the vibe. The simple, casual decor makes you focus on the delicious food. The cooks behind the counter are so personable and friendly, and they all love totally jamming out to old school 90’s tunes while preparing your food. As we made our way through our giant bowls of food, we laughed as the cooks just belted along to (notice I did not write “sing,” but rather “belted” because they really were yelling along with the music at the top of their lungs) Montell Jordan and R. Kelly. The music was also accompanied by hip gyrations. It was all incredibly entertaining.
I felt overwhelmingly satisfied after I finished my bowl. We both checked our phones and realized we had gotten several “Where did you go??” texts from our friends. I guess it looks a little shady when you dip out of the bar early on a Saturday evening. I debated going home and sinking immediately into a food coma, but Jay convinced me to head back over to the birthday celebration. By the time we rejoined everyone, I was slightly groggy from all the carbs and meat in my belly. I had lost my buzz but had no interest in putting anything else in my stomach so I made small talk for approximately 20 minutes before pulling out my phone and requesting an uber. In less than thirty minutes, I had re-shady dipped out of the bar and was in my bed. When I opened my eyes eleven hours later on Sunday morning, I felt incredibly energized. Not sure if this is just a sign of old(er) age, but in my opinion, this was the best Saturday night. I had spent time with friends, eaten a fantastic meal, was in bed well before midnight, slept more than I had slept in recent memory, and had absolutely no hangover the following morning. I’ll take this kind of Saturday over a crazy rave any day.