Dozika, a Pan-Asian restaurant and sushi bar located at 601 Dempster St., offers beer on its kid’s menu. Hold your horses, boys and girls — it’s non-alcoholic beer, but represents the sort of accommodation you can expect from Dozika, a restaurant that serves good food but holds the pretension.
Initially, our plan was to eat at a nearby Ethiopian restaurant, but seeing its interior as empty as some of that country’s native landscape, we sought other options. Dozika, about one block south, presented itself as a comforting alternative. A glance at the menu assured us of a familiar array of the classic dishes found in most sit-down Asian restaurants in America: chicken skewers, crab rangoon, egg rolls, and tempuras of every kind.
The menu is straightforward and simple. This is good and bad. Dozika shines in that it prepares tasty food, but it does not rise above and beyond. The Thai egg roll and chicken satay (skewers with peanut sauce) were perfectly sized and spartanly garnished — no excess flair or stylized arrangements of vegetables here.
For entrees, orange chicken and honey garlic chicken were the fare, both arriving promptly after the appetizers had been carted away. The orange chicken was a welcome variation on the usual varieties of sesame and General Tso’s, but it was the honey garlic chicken that won the day. The garlic flavor lingers beneath the sweet honey sauce, occasionally puncturing through in a triumphant and harmonious marriage of salty and sweet.
Desserts are also ripe for the asking at Dozika, including small scoops of ice cream wrapped in rice paper, but the first two courses left us too full to partake.
Dozika finds itself in the particular purgatory between being the low-key place where you can take a date and the upscale place you can take well-behaved children. That it caters so well and to all and is its ultimate fault, as you are at once impressed with the sushi bar but perplexed by the Hello Kitty-esque design of the menu.
There is something for everyone at Dozika, but it merely stands eye to eye with other restaurants of the Pan Asian variety. Gimmicks aren’t cool, but they help people remember you. It is perhaps in its broad appeal that Dozika can never be considered truly great. As with an old James Bond movie, people will enjoy it but never will it be an absolute favorite. Dozika leaves you satisfied but not stirred.