Donburiya is one of those places that I’ve been to, disliked, and revisited and disliked again. With more than one unenjoyable experience at the restaurant, you would think that the restaurant would be one of the last places that I would want to visit. But that would just be applying a logical pattern to erratic human behavior.
Call me weird, but sometimes there is a fundamental need for me to have a reliably bad meal. And there was no time better for an soulless, prepacked-then-reheated, and bland-tasting meal than after several consecutive decadent, gluttonous, and sinful meals. I had become enraptured and needed a dose of ‘something’ to bring me back to reality. That ‘something’ for me just so happened to be a meal from Donburiya.
I tried to order the bowl that I thought I would enjoy the least, and I thought that the negi-toro bowl fit the bill.
I was quite disappointed with the bowl of chopped up albacore tuna with rice that I received. The fish was actually fairly fresh and gave me no stomach cramps or digestive problems after the meal. The rice was neither too mushy nor too dry, and its lukewarm temperature actually worked well with the raw albacore. I ordered this bowl because I wanted to enjoy the worst donburi that they had to offer. Instead, I got what was arguable on of the best bowls that I’ve ever had at the restaurant (although it was still pretty average-tasting when compared to negi-toro bowls I’ve had elsewhere).
I also felt like wasting extra money on something that I could get much cheaper at the freezer section of an Asian supermarket, so I ordered the takoyaki.
This dish was more in line with my expectations than my negi-toro bowl. The takoyaki tasted exactly like the pre-frozen, factory-made takoyaki that I expected it to taste like. Each individual ball of batter was soft and mushy on the outside AND soft and mushy on the inside. The tonkatsu-sauce like sweet brown sauce and Japanese mayo also tasted like they came straight out of a Japanese supermarket. Flavours of the food aside, I really appreciated the speed with which the restaurant heated up and served us the dish.
My kids didn’t need to be punished with unenjoyable food, and I tried to order something that I knew they would not complain about: the katsu curry.
The pork cutlet was over-fried, but not to an inedible texture. Even though the meat was rather stiff and devoid of any moisture, it was nonetheless chewable and ingestible. The dryness of the meat became a non-factor when the S&B curry was drizzled on top of the pork cutlet. Once the was enough curry to cover the entire surface area of the pork cutlet, the previous dryness and stiffness of the pork cutlet was replaced with a monotonous moisture that extended from the breading of the cutlet to the meat, and eventually to the neighboring rice. Neither my son nor my daughter complained about the dish, and both of them finished their entire portions. So I guess they can at least make the claim that their katsu curry was up to the discerning platates of 2 kids under ten years old.
I can’t even begin to tell you how disappointed I was with the meal my kids and I had at Donburiya. I went there looking for a reliably bad meal, and I walked out with an okay – if slightly below average – tasting meal. But I guess the disappointment for not receiving a bad meal made up for the non-disappointing food…I think my previous expectations of Donburiya were totally misguided. I should not have expected to receive consistently disappointing food on my every visit; I should have expected instead to receive a consistently disappointing experience.