The Dojo, Austin Izakaya Restaurant

I just went back tonight… a Saturday, during what should have been “peak” hours the food and experience wasn’t good at all. Service was okay, but man that food was terrible. 

Disclaimer: The following review was for the soft opening.


With all the new restaurant openings and food coming into Austin, the ONE thing that I wanted to see the most was a late night Izakaya place. (Picture above was taken at Kenka in New York.)

But why this in particular?

One of the things that I enjoy the most when visiting my friends in Cali, NY, or even Las Vegas for that matter, is going out late at night to an izakaya with a relatively large group of friends, drinking an obscene amount of beer and sake, playing drinking games, and eating a wide assortment of tasty “tapas” styled dishes which I can share with everyone on the table. It’s just fun.

I’m not an expert on Japanese food, I’ve just always wanted to be able to do the same thing in Austin… and now thanks to this place I can.

Even with the influx of new Japanese places here in Austin, The Dojo is unique since it closes at 3AM on weekends and 2AM on other days. That’s pretty awesome.

//Interior and Service:


First thing that stands out when you walk in is the size of the place. It’s really large and spacious, which is sort of different than the other izakayas that I’ve been to.

When I first found out they were going to have teppanyaki (Benhihana style with the chef that does all the knife tricks) I was VERY worried. It seems like they were trying to attempt way too many things at the same time. But the teppanyaki tables are hidden away from the main restaurant, which is nice since having that in the middle of the restaurant would have been an annoying distraction for any of the other tables not doing it.

They have a really inviting bar in the middle of the restaurant. I think it’s perfect for when you’re just going with 1 other person. I didn’t see bar hooks to put your bags (key detail in my opinion), but oddly enough… there are electric outlets at almost every other seat which means you can probably camp out here with your ipad or laptop for a quite a while.

Service was awesome. Our server was comfortable explaining the dishes and the whole concept of the restaurant. This didn’t feel like Michi where I felt like I had to actually explain what food I was ordering to our waitress…



SO is this just another place trying to jump on the ramen bandwagon? Lets see.

The noodles seemed inconsistent among everyone at my table. Mine were overcooked. I think they made a good choice with the noodles… just need to work on the timing.

Egg was undercooked and had mushy whites in the center.

I don’t think the eggs here will ever be as good as Tatsuya’s since they don’t have the chashu juice to cook theirs in, but at least they could be well cooked.

One could say that the broth lacks flavor in comparison to Tatsuya and even Daruma(which is considered to be light), but I think it was acceptable for a Miso broth, you have to keep in mind that Tatsuya’s miso ramen is actually a Tonkotsu broth with miso in it.

I like that Austin is finally reaching a point where we can have a choice for different styles of Ramen. If you don’t like the intense fattiness of Tatsuya’s tonkotsu broth, you can go to either The Dojo or Daruma  if you still want a noodle soup that has interesting toppings and playfulness.

The chashu pork was really good, very similar to Totto in NY.

I think the temperatures in the ramen need to be tweaked so that the toppings, cold egg, and hot ramen work together, as it stands right now… they’re totally off. I don’t know how this is done, but some other places(tatsuya and ramen shops in other cities) have figured it out so it’s possible. It’s also worth noting that I Daruma also lacks this subtle control of temperature.

I think the broth was a tad too hot at first, but after the broth cooled down a bit it was tasted quite amazing with the corn.

There are 2 ramen sizes which is convenient if you’re going to try more stuff. The small comes with 1 piece of chashu, and the large has 2. Just don’t be a pansy and get the large bowl on your first visit to see what it’s all about. I would recommend adding corn ontop.

Here’s the current ramen tier for Austin:

Tatsuya > Daruma == The Dojo > Musashino > Michi > Kome

It’s kind of weird that Kome’s ramen hasn’t gotten better… despite them owning Daruma as well. Hmm. Also I haven’t been to any of the places in Cedar Park yet.


I didn’t take a picture of the menu so I forgot some dish names…

The good:



I actually like The Dojo’s version of fried chicken… more than East Side Kings (blasphemy I know). 1 order has enough pieces so that 5 people can each have 1 piece.

-Yaki Tsukune – Juicy chicken meat balls with a quail egg, quite nice, but perhaps it can have more flavor and be easier to share with more people.

-Fried potato croquette – you get 2 of these for 3 bucks!

-Tuna Avocado Salad –


A bowl of avo and fresh tuna mixed up, quite an honest portion. Could be made better with some crispy rice.

-Assorted Tempura’d Vegetables(forgot name) – A variety of tempura’d veggies. I really like that they included shishito peppers into the mix.

-Cocktails – I actually enjoyed the cucumber drink and the yopuri lemon. I don’t know about the sugar rim on the yopuri cocktail, but the kick of ginger along with the lemon was very pleasant.

Not so great:
-Cucumber Salad (really bland and unmarinated, compare the flavor of this to cucumber kimchi at any of the Korean markets here)
-Kimchi Fried Rice – I actually thought this packed a lot of flavor due to the charred bits, but for the sake of trusting the Korean girl sitting at my table who knows more about such things, I’ll have to default to her opinion that it wasn’t good.
-Drunken Clams – Had an intense sake flavor, but I’m not sure about this dish being on the menu. Didn’t seem substantial enough, and might possibly be too much effort to produce for such little yield.


-Pitchers of beer: I love that the beer comes in a chilled glass, but ordering it by the bottle gets a little expensive and tedious in my opinion. The convivial spirit of the place would be improved if people got either larger mugs of beer or pitchers.

-Beer selection: While they have all the standard Japanese import beer, I think they should explore local options. Perhaps ABW Peacemaker, Live Oak Hefewizen, and 512 Wit, Ommegang (from NY) Hennepin, and even Rogness Yogi(for its gingery flavor) should be added to the list.

-Dishes that are easier to share amongst 4~ people – Perhaps a yakitori sampler?

-More daring dishes – I want to see heart, liver… that stuff Anthony Bourdain would want to come in and eat. Ya know? I really want to come in and find dishes such as collar bone or more types of yakitori on the menu. I think Austin is ready to actually have the good stuff.

-Ramen wait time – despite the restaurant being almost totally empty, our ramen took a long time to come out, and the quality was inconsistent among all of us. Sort of a warning sign.

//Crazy Ideas that could make this place THE SPOT.

-Beer tower: I know that it seems that I just want more beer… but yeah if they had that crazy glowing lamp beer tower that places such as Mad For Chicken has in NY. It could create quite the buzz.

-Karaage bucket: Yeah. I know this is really what all of us want. Make it happen.

-Cut the ramen entirely:. I know this sounds crazy, as they put a lot of work into the recipe. But if they just let go of this crazy time intensive dish and focused more on their other offerings, it would really help the restaurant.

Larger tables: I really want to see more 6-8 seaters… that sounds like a good time.


Initially I thought there was no way a restaurant could handle teppanyaki, ramen, izakaya, and binchotan all at once… but The Dojo might be able to do it. I fear that they will run into a ton of problems as more people come into the restaurant, but I’m hopeful they’ll figure it out and do well in the future.

This is a great place to go to with a party of about 4~ people (most tables are 4 seaters) and maybe even a great spot to go with just 1 friend in which case I recommend sitting at the bar.

As for price this place isn’t cheap, but I feel like it’s of good value. Portion sizes are humble and honest.

  • Apps – 3$~
  • Main dishes – $6-8
  • Ramen – small $6/ large $8, (toppings are needed)
  • Drinks – Beer and cocktails about $4

An average person would probably get 1-2 apps, 2 main dishes, and 2 drinks. Keep in mind that you should order in the spirit of sharing your dishes with the table.

Eating and drinking here with friends then going to Pinballz Arcade or karaoke which are really close by to the place would probably be an ideal night for me!

Score: 7/10

Here’s a link to their facebook page:


Yup, this is who we are. Check out my friends stuff at and


monthly ping


//(Warning) This post was intended for my tumblr which is usually a lot more raw/personal than I’m willing to let out into the public. If you find anything confusing, vulgar, or offensive just keep that in mind. 

Recently I’ve been thinking about blogging something.

Like, I’ve been getting this little notion of having to do a write up, but nothing has come to fruition.

Now, after reading a bunch of my friends’ blogs, which are all quite good I must say, I’m going to channel their energy to finally write an update. Thanks friends.

Life is really good. Like… really really good.

I ride my bicycle, see new things, run into interesting people, and eat yummy food everyday.

Proof? Below is a mix of pictures from Austin and SF taken in the last 2 weeks. They’re taken with a special camera… and it’s not micro 4/3.


on top

When people ask me “How are you doing?”

I tend to reply now.. “Good, really good actually.”

“Why? What’s new?”

“I have a bicycle.”

They tend to not understand this statement. But believe me… my bicycle has changed my life entirely.

It’s not like a religious thing or a scam. It’s a fucking bicycle for fucks sake. You buy one, probably off craigslist, and if you like it you can keep it, if you don’t you can sell it. What are the draw backs of getting addicted?

Hmm… exercise… less gas usage… any cons? Iono yo.

-New things

cal train

I recently took a trip to San Francisco. It was absolutely flipping amazing.

The weather for one… was a solid “Hmm maybe I should bring a jacket.” 70 average during the day, 55 average at night. Compare that to the 100 -> 70 weather we have here in Austin… jeeze. As a lover of public transport, I had a great time figuring out how to get around the city. The pic above is of the Cal Train which can take you from SF to San Jose, which I thought was the coolest thing ever.

omada health

To be honest I really had my heart set on moving to New York after graduation, and even though my brother told me that SF was “different than any other place on Earth and amazing for people in tech” I didn’t want to believe him. Well… it turns out he was right. There’s just something about the people in San Fran. There’s just this air of doing things just cause it’s an awesome idea, and designing tech oriented businesses to help people that you can’t find anywhere. People in Austin have warned me about the viciousness of the Valley when it comes to startups. It’s not viciousness… really… it’s just people who are hungry for change, and will be up for doing anything remotely awesome. They are not afraid of failure, which they actually look to as a badge of honor, and because of that the products just turn out better. In my honest opinion, cities such as New York, Boston, and Austin will never be able to catch up to Silicon Valley.


I’m just feeling this new fire for technology and software. And I have no idea where this is coming from. I hated this shit 2 months ago. Now it’s time to play catch up with the people who are already legit and have been in the game for years. The pic above is of a company called Omada Health, who are solving type 2 diabetes with a 16 week program designed with Ruby on Rails. I met a couple of the guys at Nerd Beer, which is one of the many many tech meetups in the SF area. Props to my brother to getting me an invite…

And yeah, I did do a spontaneous interview with Omada... I think I did okay? Actually I didn’t do that great. heh.

-Interesting people

mission workshop

I went to Mission Workshop, which is a bicycle bag manufacturer in San Francisco. Their store is really cool since they actually ship all their orders from this large table in the store front. It turns out I learned a ton about photo printing from this guy since they had a fantastic photo exhibit up in the store, what a weird turn of events.

biking betties

Back in Austin, I went over to Fast Folks, which is a fixed gear/single speed bicycle boutique, to buy a small lock. I couldn’t have chose a better time since they were shooting for their 2013 calendar which features a ridiculously hot girl + bike for each month of the year. I’m sold.


She has a Cinelli frame and a Mission Workshop backpack. I’m in love @_@


Apparently they produce a zine! I think it would be amazing to be in one of those.


Most legit cyclist I’ve met. The bike repairmen at Mellow Johnnies were asking this guy for tips… heh


Fellow Leica user in San Fran:).

-Yummy food


Katanaya, one of the most famous places to get ramen in SF. To be honest it was only okay. I ordered the Katanaya ramen, which was decent… but not the greatest. 3/5? My brother and I tried to go to Orenchi Ramen in Sunnyvale, but there were 25 parties ahead of us so we couldn’t eat there. Insane.

four barrell

As I was walking along in Mission, the most hipster part of SF, I came across this really huge ass cafe with a ton of bikes outside. Yeah… it was pretty cool inside. They don’t have wifi or power outlets! That shit is too mainstream.


Still wondering around Mission, a very familiar smell came to my nose. It was that of a legit bar. I actually passed this place twice, and on the 2nd time decided… why the fuck would I not go in?

I asked for a local IPA… and guess what, Racer 5 by Bear Republic is local in California, which has been one of my favorite beers for the past year. SO COOL.


I rented bikes with my friend Hoan, which we took from 1 neighbor hood the next and back. We had some extra time, so we decided to take a hill for fun, and circle around.. and when we did we saw Absinthe, which was a recommendation from my dear friend Eve. We popped in for a couple drinks and oysters. It was divine!

bacon chicken salad

yumz. Cenote is definitely my new favorite place cafe in Austin. Tasty espresso, beer, amazing sandwiches… and you KNOW a place is going to be good if you see 2+ Surly’s out in front. It takes a certain mentality to own a Surly(LOL).

Mediterranean panini @ hot mama's

This sandwich was surprisingly good. Imagine a muffaletta but daintier and more elegant.

hot mamas cafe

Outside there was a group of people doing hoola hooping. Old men, young women, and kids too. I ended up ordering a custom hoola hoop for my mom.

-My photography

paris texas

The thing is… I think my photography is finally starting to change.

I’m becoming more comfortable with who I am as a person, and it is really showing through my pictures. In the past I would be scared if someone noticed me taking a picture, but now I take it for what is and run with it.


When I notice I’m in an environment where people are hostile to me taking their picture, I leave, and never come back. Fuck them. But recently most people have been really open to me and my pictures.

mirrorball satelite

Again, I really want my images to become more raw… to reveal more and more about who I am on the inside. I went to Spider House to grab some food at love balls, which as a bit meh. There was an awesome punk rock band called Mikey and the Drags… I could only imagine what it would be like to listen to their music while biking. There were these 2 cute asian girls smoking outside… and it turns out one performed later in the night and I missed out. What a bummer!


So yeah… there you have it, my life in a nutshell.

The kicker is that I find myself alone at night and it kind of sucks.



And as a sort of take away from this post… life is absolutely flipping amazing. It’s beautiful, and the subtleties go on to no end. Don’t be comfortable where you are. Keep exploring and find new things. Escape the cycle.

In my moment of fame

Hi, for those who are coming from this link:

the proposal *unedited*

Here’s the story:

I was biking back with my designer friend Megan Vo from a new startup space in SE Austin, called The Chicon Collective, it’s just starting out, but I think it’s going to be huge.

We had a couple beers and food in us… so we were tired by the time we reach the capital building. We stopped for a quick break, when Megan spotted the couple. I tried to get as close as possible, since my camera actually doesn’t have a zoom setting (I shoot primes only). I think I got a pretty decent shot.

The irony of this whole situation is that while I stress how important Photoshop and processing RAW images is to photography, the image I uploaded to imgur is actually a low quality jpeg, since I was at work (yes I’m admitting it now) when I put it up on reddit.

I plan to post process the image, and put up a final version for the couple to have, entirely free (maybe 2 beers and a meal >_<??)

-Where can you meet me?

-Every other Thursday in Austin at Google +’s Drink and Click ATX


If you work for or Olympus, I need to speak to you about something.


That is all, I’m free for beer most nights in Austin! Cheers!


Opal Divine’s

opal divine

On my bike path from campus to downtown I stumbled upon a really nice pub! I had a great convo with the barkeep and a couple traveling from Minnesota about different yeast strains and home-brewing. They had a sample of Real Ale’s Strawberry Stout… which was interesting, but not my favorite, the tartness of the strawberries sort of killed the creamy sweetness that I want from a stout.

fat tire

South Austin Brewing Co. Opening

My friend Charles invited me to go to the opening of South Austin Brewing Co. which is located a little bit south of I35 and 71.

It’s a really exciting time to be a beer enthusiast in Austin. A lot of new pubs and breweries have been opening up, and it’s creating a very “rooted” foodie culture in which the hottest food trailers are partnering with these new establishments. Perhaps soon we’ll see well thought out food and beer pairings appear on trailer menus!

South Austin currently has a golden ale and saison. Their golden ale has a very smooth mouthfeel, that ends with a touch of sweetness. Their saison isn’t as funky as offerings from other breweries, but it still have a bit of kick from hops, as well as a nice orange peel aroma.

Getting acquainted with beer

Alcohol had always been glorified throughout high school and college. Plans for the weekend quickly default to the question, “Are you 21 yet?” or “Who’s party are you going to tonight?” Quickly you find yourself at someone’s house or at a bar… and you’re offered a beer for first time, either straight up or in the form of a game. Generally even if you have your reserves of trying it, you’ll get peer pressured into drinking it somehow.

Well here goes nothing… you take a sip… and you think to yourself, “Meh.” or “Bleh.” And that first impression usually sits with you for a very long time.

The thing is we quickly associate beer with less-than-glamorous frat parties and sleezy bars. Names such as Bud Light, Keystone, and Miller come to mind… and we drink these beers really quickly and in mass quantities as a inexpensive way of getting drunk.

What if beer was more than a cheap thrill?

So there I was in my dorm room during my Freshman year with 2 bottles of Shiner that I snagged from a house party earlier in the week. Shiner is quite a popular brewery in Texas, if you bring a 6 pack of Shiner bock to a party it’s sort of like bringing a pizza from a local pizzeria rather than the usual chain. In my quiet room and took a couple sips – unrushed, and not distracted by anything else. I thought to myself… hmm this actually isn’t that bad.

(Now I think Shiner bock is a bit on the watery side, but it does have it’s place.)

You can think of beer sort of like a contemporary art exhibit. You can either go up to one, take a quick glance and say “I don’t get it.” or you could linger for a while… view it from different angles, get up close to it and take in the detail, and then make your final decision of whether you like it or not.

Often times when we’re exposed to something new, such as a food, area, or activity, we won’t be totally blown away. We often look for small details that we can appreciate… So same goes to beer… I’m sure the first time you have a “better brew” you will not be blown away. Just take it slow, and be open to a second or third sip. If you don’t like it, then don’t force it… there’s no shame or harm.

Once you find that little thing you like in a stronger brew, feel free to revisit a Bud light or Miller… and notice how great the difference is.

So where should you start?

In my limited knowledge, I believe you should first start with a hefeweizen, or wheat beer. Fransiskaner or Hoegaarden have popular hefeweizens that you can find at your local grocery store. These beers are notably sweeter, and contain very familiar flavors and aromas such as orange or lemon. And perhaps to give you an idea of how wide the range of flavors can be, at the same time get a porter, stout, pale ale, or IPA. I can guarantee that you can at least taste a difference between the 2 drinks. Try to get beyond the bitterness to flavors such as fruit.

Brands to look out for:

  • Dogfish head
  • Ommegang
  • New Belgium
  • Sierra Nevada
  • Rogue
  • Paulaner
  • Anything local, ask your bartender!
  • Live Oak(Texas)
  • 512 (Texas)

Is there a proper way of drinking a beer?

Hum, I don’t know. But here’s how I go about it:

Get a proper glass. Pour it in at a 45 degree angle or else you’ll just end up with a lot of head.

First look at the beer, notice the color of it in the available light, and also the bubbles that form at the top of the glass. Tilt the glass a bit and notice how the head moves about, it varies a lot from beer to beer.

Take a normal sip of it, get your initial impressions. Do you like it? Yes, no, meh? That is all.

Then smell the beer for a second or two, put it right up to your nose, then take another sip. Did the taste change any after taking a whiff? Twirling the beer in your glass might help get the aroma out, similar to wine. Also the type of glass plays a roll in channelling the aroma to your nose. I really like drinking beer out of tulip shaped glasses =).

Then I’d take a third mouthful, swish it around to both taste it more and to evaluate the carbonation of the beer. Are the bubbles harsh, or is the beer more mild and frothy?

When you swallow there’s this moment where the back of your tongue touches the roof of your mouth. Typically with soda, you wouldn’t taste anything else at this point, but with beer… you could notice a different flavor. It could be anything from grapefruit to coffee depending on the beer.

Also take note of the after taste as well…  and just enjoy it from this point.

Checkout the yelp/wikipedia of beer!

If you have a computer or smart phone handy, go to beeradvocate and see what people think of your brew while you’re at the bar.

512 Wit

512 brewery wit

Another wheat beer.

It’s already November, and Austin is still reaching temperatures in the 90’s. Wheat beer seems to be always a reasonable choice here.

A very nice cloudy yellow. I tend to like wheat beers that have a bit of “haze” in them. This typically means that the beer is less filtered or unfiltered, which translates to a “fuller” mouth feel. Very thin head with little to no lacing.

Nice yeast/grain aroma, along with orange and lemon peel.

Classic wheat bear taste. Slightly sweet, with hints of orange. Carbonation is a little bit high initially, but if you keep it in your mouth it mellows out nicely. Finishes off dry with a pleasant sour/citrus aftertaste.

-Available at:

  • Draught House Pub
  • Green Muse Cafe on Oltorf

Live Oak Hefeweizen

live oak hefeweizen

Best part about living in Austin is that most places have Live Oak’s hefeweizen on tap.

5.2% ABV

Appearance: Really nice warm straw color with not a lot of lacing on the head.

Smell: Bubble gum and clove.

Taste: Light and slightly sweet with clove and banana to start off. Bubble gum comes through at the end which is very unique and amazing in my opinion.

Mouthfeel: Most other hefeweizen’s tend to be too carbonated for me, but I feel this beer is just right. Live Oak’s hefeweizen is thick and frothy with a nice dryness at the end.

Overall: A really nice and refreshing Summer beer. Quite sweet and easy to drink, and it goes really well with a lemon. Be on the look out for the bubblegum after taste, it’s a real treat.

I think wheat beer is a very easy thing to get into since it is slightly sweet instead of bitter which makes it easier to start digging into the different favors.

-Places with live oak hefeweizen on tap in Austin:

  • Draught house pub
  • Jo’s Coffee on 2nd St.
  • Black Star Coop