First Look

Dallas Gets a New Korean-Japanese Izakaya with Solid Yakitori and Seafood

The small dining room at Damasita Izakaya, on Royal Lane in Dallas.
The small dining room at Damasita Izakaya, on Royal Lane in Dallas. Brian Reinhart
Damasita Izakaya opened in January on Royal Lane near Harry Hines Boulevard, in the heart of Dallas' Korean neighborhood. One month later, the izakaya is keeping a low profile, without a website, social media page or any publicity at all except for some photos on Google Maps.

But Damasita does have a kitchen, nestled into a cozy little space that used to be Nuriso, in the same shopping center as beloved favorites like Koryo Kalbi and Rice Chicken. The dining room, with its wooden accents and high booths, holds just a handful of tables and a counter along the sushi bar. K-Pop plays and the food arrives as it is ready, which, on our visit, meant an impromptu six-course tasting of yakitori, sushi, grilled seafood and tempura.

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Oyster tempura at Damasita.
Brian Reinhart
The result was a pretty darn good meal, nearly but not quite good enough to spare most Dallasites the drive out to Irving to visit reigning izakaya champion Mr Max. Yakitori options like pork belly ($6) and lamb chops ($5) come with pickled mushrooms and other grilled vegetable sides. The tempura oysters are truly outstanding, crisply breaded, topped with bonito flakes and cooked not too long, so the oysters inside remain as close to raw as possible ($7).

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Damasita's caveman roll ($12.50) has shrimp tempura, crab and avocado with an eel topping.
Brian Reinhart
If grilled mackerel with its ultra-crispy skin is a little too fishy-tasting ($7), the sushi rolls are fresh and generously loaded. Indeed, they sometimes sport such big hunks of fish, eel or crabmeat that they become hard to hold together with chopsticks. Excessive generosity is the best of faults, and the caterpillar roll ($11.50), with thick cuts of eel wrapped in rice and topped with equally thick cuts of avocado, suffers quite blissfully from it.

Damasita's extensive menu boasts much more, including fried savory pancakes with vegetables or seafood, ankimo (monkfish liver), okonomiyaki, abalone, rice bowls, bento boxes, ramen, udon, Korean short ribs and splurge meals like the "sushi bar full course for one" ($50) and whole live flounder ranging, based on the fish's size, from $50 to $200. Sake is available too.

This quiet new opening may have avoided the public relations spotlight, but its food has our attention. We'll be back for tempura oysters and to try that sushi bar full course.

Damasita Izakaya, 2564 Royal Lane. Open 4:30-10:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday
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Brian Reinhart has been the Dallas Observer's food critic since spring 2016. In addition, he writes baseball analysis for the Hardball Times and covers classical music for the Observer and MusicWeb International.
Contact: Brian Reinhart