First Look at Dosi, A Korean Small-Plates Restaurant and Soju Bar
It would be tempting to visit Dosi just for Korean fried chicken. The tempura-battered free range chicken comes to the table tantalizingly stacked in a mound of tasty, bright orange, spicy-sweet gochugang (Korean red pepper) glaze, without a doubt the best version you can find in Houston at the moment.
Photo by Mai Pham The Korean fried chicken, sweet and spicy version, at Dosi.
But Dosi, the new Korean small plates concept on Shepherd just south of Westheimer, is about so much more than just fried chicken. If the sleek concrete facade doesn't do the job of cluing you into what the place is all about, the colorful wall of liquid-filled jars that greet you at the entrance might give you a hint.
Photo by Mai Pham The community table is long and attractive, inviting you to sit down and share the space with others.
Each color -- red, yellow and green being the primary colors that catch the eye -- represents a type of soju infusion. Yes, soju-- a Korean version of vodka made from rice or sweet potato. The white distilled beverage is the preferred drink in Korea, and Dosi, in addition to being a restaurant, plans to be the place for people to gather and drink soju. To facilitate this objective, Dosi is designed around a communal space.
When you enter the main dining room, your eyes can't help but be drawn to the impossibly long community table, which runs the length of the room from the bar to the kitchen. It's really well done, too, the setup inviting as opposed to intimidating. The communal table is raised higher (the same height as a bar), its width not too wide or narrow, allowing for easy conversation between people seated across from each other. The bar chairs are plush and cushioned, comfortable enough to relax in, and spaced in such a way that is not too cramped, yet close enough to for people -- strangers or friends -- to engage with one another.
If the ambiance is inviting, so, too, is the food. The menu, conceived of by owner An Vo, was created by executive chef Jordan Asher. Asher, whose resume includes stints at Oxheart and Ibiza, has traveled extensively, working in places such as Mercat a la Planxa in Chicago and Spice Market in New York City, but hitherto did not have experience with Korean food. Perhaps that's what gives the menu at Dosi its newness, its of-the-moment feeling. The dishes are creative, the presentation impeccable, and food, though not 100 percent authentic Korean, is flavorful and memorable, the kind you want to revisit.
Photo by Mai Pham Kale chips. Like shrimp chips, only better.
Where some restaurants that try to do "small plates" end up getting it wrong (either with plates that are too big, prices that are too high, or dishes that are difficult to eat and not meant for sharing at all), Dosi does it right. The Banchan, or Korean side dishes, are small and well priced in the $4 to $7 range, with most dishes coming in at $5. Of these, the kale chips were super fun --green colored, bubbly chips that resembled shrimp chips or crispy chicharron - but made of kale with a yogurt dipping sauce. Also notable was the tomato salad, a mixture of cherry tomatoes with grilled tofu and crisped rice flavored with a savory seasoning that was a bit more Thai and Vietnamese in style, but really delicious. Another standout was the wagyu beef jerky -- four long strips of thinly pounded dry meat topped with cilantro and sorrel -- cut neat and clean and easy to pick up with your fingers.
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