Depending on where you live, eating the region's best Asian cuisine can require a pilgrimage. Some folks haul north for Korean barbecue at Lauderhill's Gabose. Others head south for fragrant pho and cha
If braving traffic and burning gas is your thing, add Doral's sprawling Dragonfly Izakaya & Fish Market, which opened in April, to your list of restaurants to commute to. The Japanese small-plates spot is part of an ambitious, billion-dollar effort by developers Codina Partners and Lennar Commercial to turn the western enclave from one of
Once inside Dragonfly, the third location for the Gainesville-based ownership group, it's easy to see why the place is packed – even at 10 p.m. There's a veritable wonderland of Asian bric-a-brac. A towering six-pack of Japanese lanterns guards the passage from the fish market (which a worker tells me will begin operating later this month) into the crimson-and-charcoal dining room. A regiment of gilded cats stands guard over the open kitchen, the creatures' unflinching eyes gazing across
It seems no accident that the sushi bar and
You'll first have to look past the lineup of inside-out rolls with too many ingredients buried under too much sauce. Then, point your attention to a concise list of fish offered as sashimi or nigiri. There are pricey offerings like the golden eye snapper called
Things turn a corner with a bowl of
From here on out, the meal improves. Chawanmushi, a warm egg custard, comes in a pale shade of beige-yellow, and its yolky flavor makes for a beautiful contrast to the sea urchin and salmon eggs that crown it. Should you order this treat, plunge your spoon deep into the bowl. Encased in the custard are shards of sweet snow crab that, when enjoyed with the salty elements, open a pathway to alternate dimensions of flavor.
The Japanese cabbage pancake, or okonomiyaki, is bound with mountain yam that gives it a chewy texture. It would be too chewy were the pancake not aggressively crisped before being showered with tiny hunks of squid, shrimp, octopus, and shaved katsuobushi.
The kitchen shows off a deft hand with hot fish preparations, which is especially obvious in the
The panoply of skewered chicken parts that comes off the
There are also plenty of more conventional dishes. A plump Wagyu short rib arrives fork-tender and draped in meaty shiitake mushrooms alongside enoki clusters. The slightly sweet tare sauce is easy to enjoy. There is shrimp tempura, a beef noodle stir fry called yakisoba, and even fish and chips. That last one is battered with Japanese beer and sprinkled with a seaweed-based spice blend.
Your dinner companions might devour all the beer-battered fish, but that means more chawanmushi and chicken skin skewers for you. That alone might be worth the drive to Doral — but only after traffic dies down.
Dragonfly Izakaya & Fish Market
5241 NW 87th Ave., Doral; 305-222-7447; dragonflyrestaurants.com. Lunch Monday through Friday 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.; dinner Monday through Thursday 5 to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 5 to 11:30 p.m.; lunch and dinner Sunday 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
- Shio saba, $14
- Kawa, $8
- Reba, $8
- Okonomiyaki, $12
- Chawanmushi, $12
- Wagyu short rib, $19
- Tonkotsu ramen, $12
- Assorted sushi, $8 to $12