[UPDATE: Unfortunately, The Dojo has closed its doors as of August 26th, 2014.]
House-made sweet mochi (japanese rice cake), covered in tempura batter, deep fried, drizzled with rasberry syrup and agave, then topped with fresh fruit and powdered sugar. For a girl who loves her mochi, and certainly all things fried (we’ve clearly established this), this is a dream team combination. From one quick glance of the menu, I knew The Dojo was going to be my new favorite hang-out spot in town, and it certainly has not let me down. The Dojo is Austin’s first izakaya, a type of Japanese bar and restaurant built around small plates and great drinks, with an emphasis on social dining – customers are encouraged to linger and share their dishes with their table.
With over 20 vegan options on the menu, and more being added seemingly every week, The Dojo means business when it comes to their vegan customers. With so many options, there is something for everyone on the menu, with small starter plates of pickled vegetables and edamame, salad plates of tofu caprese and fried tofu salad, recognizable favorites like gyoza and tempura, fun dishes like tofu steak and tomato croquettes, and even vegan ramen and dessert to finish off your meal.
As with all new businesses (their grand opening was just 3 days ago), things have been changing quickly, so I’m sure their menu will make a few more changes before they’re really settled in. Since their soft opening a few weeks ago, they’ve really listened to their customers and have implemented a dedicated veg fryer, added new vegan sauces (including a previously unavailable tempura sauce), and started a vegan-friendly lunch service.
I love to head over to The Dojo early for happy hour, when you can buy drinks together with one dollar appetizer specials, such as the kinpira gobo (braised burdock root – a traditional Japanese side dish and a surprise favorite of ours), or when in need of a late night meal (open till 1:30 am or later with a full menu till close). This Friday would also be a great time to check out The Dojo, at a special edition of ATX Vegan Drinks. We’ll be hanging around the bar area, where you’ll be able to order drinks and some special menu items that The Dojo will be putting together for this event, including a vegan sake jello shot. No matter when you decide to check them out, the huge vegan-friendly menu and the relaxed, casual izakaya atmosphere are sure to make The Dojo a fast favorite of yours too.
Disclaimer: This Top 20 series, presented in no particular order, is formed from the personal opinions of Marie and Daniel, and does not necessarily reflect the views of all Red Hot Vegans bloggers. If you’re not a fan of oily, sugary, calorie-dense food, then this series is probably not for you. For everyone else, enjoy!