At first the rain seemed as though it was going to be a hindrance, walking from the light rail to the restaurant, all of us getting a bit wet, it just didn’t seem like the normal Denver weather. Yet as soon as we entered the parking lot of the Domo restaurant the entire experience seemed to be transformed, as if we have just made the leap to Japan and were entering another world.
Upon opening the door to the restaurant and stepping inside our senses were transformed and almost took a step to a past world. The restaurant wasn’t filled with contemporary lighting, TV’s showing sports games or even a small seating area for those waiting for tables. Instead it was cozy and smelled of delicious food being cooked and served in the room next to ours. The waiting area was large and situated with traditional Japanese table and chairs, which allowed for people to start conversation and not be crammed together waiting for a table.
Once seated the experience of the place was not just visual, but also very touch and taste oriented. From the log seats to the thickness and ruggedness of the slab table and also the seemingly handmade tea cups (all different from one another), made the restaurant stand out from any other restaurant I had ever been to. Our visual sense was full of trying to take in the whole restaurant, with all its embellishments and decorations, while our ears were able to concentrate on the conversation, but also hear the slight sound of rainfall outside.
As our food arrived the incredible experience just got better. Although eating with chopsticks was challenging at times, it felt authentic and needed. The main dishes were seasoned and spiced to perfection so that nothing was overpowering. The “country side dishes” allowed for your taste buds to delineate a bit from your main dish, but also provided a break and assortment of new things to try. The texture of the food was interesting and varied from dish to side dishes and the taste was delicious.
After finishing eating we decided to checkout the garden, when walking outside in the pouring rain it didn’t tarnish the experience of the garden whatsoever. The garden was quant and enjoyable and only made me wish that we could have eaten outside in the rain, under a small roof. It smelled of cleanliness and serenity, with its paths laid out intentionally so one could easily walk through and also see all the different components the garden had to offer. While heading back to campus the journey back was relaxed and calm, just as the restaurant had been and transformed our mood to follow.
We have all been to “themed” or region based restaurants, but Domo was different, it really made the guests feel as if they were transformed into Japan and took into account the entire sensory experience one is able to have. The smells, tastes, textures, sounds and sights truly rested on tradition and straying from the normal American restaurant.