Dose Izakaya Bar
Feeling Japanese? We try Dose, for unfamiliar drinks and intriguing snacks.
A journalist, an engineer and an accountant walk into a bar in Christchurch on a foggy Friday night in search of a drink or two and a bit of culinary adventure. Don't worry, it's the start of a good night out, rather than a bad joke.
The engineer was hesitant about trying Dose Izakaya Bar in the middle of the city, mumbling something about comfort zones and how this wasn't one.
To be fair, Tuam St did look a little eerie in the dark with the fog rolling in and little foot traffic. But, on the bright side, there was plenty of on-street parking and, once we were inside, we discovered a warm, relaxed, funky-without-being-pretentious bar with an eye-opening drinks list.
We were shown to a table straight away, having just caught the tail-end of the Friday night rush. We were seated in the upstairs section, which was just big enough for a handful of tables without being too crowded.
Dose is a café by day and a bar by night on Wednesdays to Saturdays from 4pm.
It took some time to study the drinks list and make our choices. Unfamiliar with most of the beverages listed, we took a leap and ordered warmed Kubota Senju sake ($14 for 100ml or $18 for 300ml), served in a traditional ceramic bottle with sake cups. It burned a fiery path all the way down, and the engineer started to relax.
We also sampled chilled Ozeki Hana Awaka, described on the drinks list as "light, sweet and fizzy", but you're left to discover the potent kick for yourself.
The Raindogs Apothecary Amber Ale ($13 for 500ml) was a more familiar choice from a list that offered a variety of beers, as well as bubbles, chardonnay, pinot gris and merlot.
At a nearby table, a boisterous group of 20-somethings were having a great time, while, in the opposite corner, a middle-aged couple were enjoying a quiet romantic drink.
We ordered starters of seaweed salad ($13), a flavourful combination of green and black seaweed with a sesame seed-based dressing, spring rolls and deep-fried tofu salad - chunky fried tofu tossed with crunchy vegetables, nuts, red onion and sesame sauce ($13), which was delicious.
Still peckish, we ventured further down the menu. The prawn and vegetable tempura ($18.50) and karaage fried chicken ($12.50) were good, but the group favourite was the yakitori chef's tasting platter - chicken, lamb, beef, pork and vegetable skewers for $14.
The portions were not hungry rugby player-sized, but they were satisfying, and healthy - a refreshing change from the greasy, salty snacks that usually accompany Friday night drinks.
The service was polite, friendly and fast. It's difficult to avoid the word "eclectic" when describing the decor. With a mix of paintings, wooden carvings and murals, that is what it was, and the wooden tables looked like each had its own history as a school desk or family dining table,
We were one of the last parties to leave just after 10.30pm.
If you've got the winter blues and you're ready to go a little beyond your comfort/green/red/white zone, Dose has tasty snacks and belly-warming sake to burn the blues away.
Where: 77 Tuam St.
Ambience: Relaxed and cosy.