Most sushi places in New York tend to fit into one of four tiers:
1. The top of the top, the kind of places that people make documentaries and write novels on Yelp about - the Sushi Nakazawas of the world. The space will be beautiful, and the courses will be plenty. The food may blow your mind, and so will the bill. Probably an anniversary/birthday/just IPO-ed kind of affair, reserved for maybe once a year, maybe once a lifetime visits.
2. Places that are still serving some pretty fancy/serious sushi, but cost a little less, and probably at least give you the option of ordering a la carte. Sushi Of Gari is a good example.
3. The quality neighborhood spots we can actually patronize regularly - bless you Takahachi.
4. Finally, places solely reserved for Seamless orders. Try not to look too closely when you pass them in real life.
Here's the thing about Domodomo, which took the place of beloved Tier 2 standby Ushiwakamaru on Houston Street: we're not sure which group it fits into. Why is this sushi place different from all other sushi places? First of all, Domodomo is a "handroll bar," which means instead of rolls or pieces of sushi, you're ordering handrolls. They're all freshly made, with crisp seaweed, quality rice, and good fish, even if we don't know how many of them to order.
Aesthetically, the place looks like it could be in Tier #1. It's probably the light wood, and the whole quiet, zen vibe of the place. They also serve you a tiny little tablet that expands into a towel when you drop it in some water that's enclosed in a polished rock. Don't worry about the details - point is, it feels fancy.
Pricewise, you can end up at either a Tier 2 or a 3. There's a $68 omakase option, and other $45 or $30 handroll sets. We've ordered a la carte, and still can't figure out how much to order. Four handrolls and some other dishes to share? We also probably could have eaten twelve, but you'd start getting close to Tier #1 prices pretty quickly.
We like Domodomo, but we're not quite sure when to use it. It's a little intense to be a neighborhood spot (though the food is more than good enough, and if you order smartly, the prices OK), but not quite special enough to be a special occasion destination. Maybe on a date where you don't want to eat too much? Not sure we're ready to add a fifth tier just yet.
A tasty little pot of egg custard with truffle. It comes included on the set menu, but we'd just order one a la carte to share.
All the handrolls come fresh with crispy seaweed and quality rice. This one also has buttery lobster inside, making it our favorite. Almost like a lobster roll handroll.
With some aioli and light sauteed onion, you want this roll as well.
Cold, soft fatty tuna makes for another very good handroll.
A little too simple - the better rolls are the more complex ones.
This one's different - the eel comes on a flat piece of seaweed that you roll up yourself. There's also a little drop of chocolate sauce on the eel. Very exciting.
Apparently a house favorite, squid ink noodles are topped with sea urchin and caviar, all sitting in a "cheddar dashi." The whole thing tastes a little like Kraft mac and cheese, with some fancy stuff thrown on top - not as amazing as it might sound when you're stoned.