DOMA

Doma

The restaurant scene in Toronto has always been hectic with dozens of doors opening and closing each month. In the competitive landscape, many new spots don’t hit their one year birthday. I usually try to visit restaurants only once they’ve hit the 6 months mark, giving them the opportunity to smooth out any service wrinkles and fine tune their menu. Many of the newly opened restaurants have caught my eye including Canis, Grey Gardens and Doma. So far, I’ve been able to visit Doma, a French inspired Korean restaurant located in Little Italy.

Atmosphere: Doma’s aesthetic was clean and minimalist. The white dining room was filled with square wood tables and seats alternated between wood and black metal ones. Both the plates and utensils were simple, unadorned and and modern. I felt a touch underdressed, having come straight from work, compared to other diners who were in more “date night” attire. The restaurant was quiet, perfect for conversation and not too busy on the Thursday night.

Service: My friend and I had reservations for 5:30pm, when Doma opened. When we arrived a few minutes early, service wasn’t ready just yet and we wandered around around the neighbourhood for a bit before returning 10 minutes later. We were seated quickly and a server by to take our drink orders. Once we had some time with the menu, our server returned to ask if we had any questions before we placed our order. Service was professional and efficient with dishes arriving at a good pace in courses. I couldn’t quite place why, but during few of our interactions with the servers, they felt a touch aloof.

Food: Doma’s menu was compact and changes monthly, keeping only 2-3 of the previous month’s most popular dishes. To taste the full menu was $65 per person, a great deal. For the two of us, we decided to share 3 dishes, Tuigim (deep-fried summer vegetables), Grilled Octopus and Uhsun Mandoo (a seafood dumpling). All three dishes were very good and varied in how much Korean and French influence was present.

Before our main dishes arrived, an Amuse Bouche was served, which was a sip of cold gazpacho, sweet, tart and seasoned with lots of herbs. The first dish to arrive was the Tuigim that came with dollops of three sauces. I really enjoyed how fresh the vegetables were, the light crispy batter and the variety of sauces. Each vegetable was cooked to a great texture and there wasn’t any hint of oiliness. Next up was the Grilled Octopus surrounded by a next of julienned vegetables and a Korean mustard dressing. I felt a lot of Korean flavours in this dish in the cabbage, dressing and seasoning on the charred octopus. The octopus itself was tender and had a nice char. I also liked the different textures of the salad and the sweet, sour flavours.

The last dish of the night was the Uhsun Mandoo, served with daily fish, scallop, prawn, spring pea puree, soy chili beurre blanc and radicchio. I have such mixed feelings about this dish. On one hand, this was one of the best radicchios I’ve ever had. The soy chili beurre blanc balanced the bitterness of the vegetable and made each bite sweet and interesting. The seafood was fresh, but none of the components really stood out or wowed. I was a bite disappointed in the mandoo, which was a very Western interpretation and reminded me much more of ravioli. The flavours of the filling and texture of the wrapper was good, but not what I was expecting. I was also surprised at the lack of spice or any fermented ingredients.

Overall, dinner at Doma was solid, but I was expecting more of the Korean side to shine through than it did.

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