Donburi, a hidden gem in Adams Morgan


By Huong Cao, Staff Writer

If any patriot has been thinking of exploring Washington D.C., Adams Morgan should be an interesting neighborhood that offers visitors a variety of international restaurants as well as an eclectic  mix of bars. Donburi, a hidden Japanese restaurant, is well-known for its authenticity among the many options to choose from in the neighborhood.

The name of the place says it all – Donburi – which is a Japanese rice dish consisting of fish, meat, vegetables, and other ingredients. These rice bowls make hearty meals that are satisfying any time of day. This Japanese restaurant’s menu includes 13 entrees, a few side dishes, and soft drinks.

In 2014, The Washington Post reports that Donburi was founded by Seungjoon Jang, 26, a Korean native who embraced cooking while working at Japanese restaurants in the U.S. and in his native country.

After walking through the door, guests will immediately be greeted by a cashier. Guests look over the menu and pay before taking a seat at a wooden bar, which is a little unexpected by a first-time visitor. Most of the dishes in Donburi range from $11 to $30, which means guests could leave this place stuffed without breaking their wallets.

With $11, one could enjoy ‘katsudon’, which comes with large, thick slices of pork cutlet or chicken. Below the thick slices of cutlets is cooking stock flavored with soy sauce and a warm bed of rice. It is the soul of a family-friendly Japanese dish in one bowl, decorated with pickled vegetables on the top.

You can also pair it with another topping such as shrimp without paying extra if you order ‘mix katsudon’, which allows you to choose two toppings.

From the first bite, guests can taste the crispy deep-fried pork cutlet and enjoy sweet dashi sauce on rice. Thinly sliced onion and a scrambled egg on top make the dish irresistible. After one bite, one can feel the perfect balance from the combination of these ingredients.

For those who love salmon, ‘sakedon’ is a must-try. This is a rice bowl with slices of freshly cut salmon placed on top of rice along with seaweed and pickled radish. With $13, ‘sakedon’ can satisfy any guest craving salmon.

Despite the authentic flavor, food is not the only thing that demands a visit. Donburi’s intimate ambiance helps  complete the experience. There are no waiters, only chefs. At the wooden bar, guests can talk to the chefs and see the food being prepared over open flames. Water and tea are self-serve. There is also a bottle of kewpie mayonnaise and chili seasoning, which perfectly compliment rice dishes, on the table.

While parking in Adams Morgan is often a nightmare and Donburi’s limited seating means guests are likely to experience long waits during peak times, the consistent and authentic Japanese flavor of these rice bowls is worth it.

Photo Courtesy of Huong Cao