Maybe even more so than its sister restaurant on Whyte Avenue, Dorinku Osaka is like walking into a Japanese amusement park. You are greeted by rows upon rows of lucky cats, paws waving, like you might be walking into a Jordan Peele movie. There are Japanese video games in the back corner. A bar filled with sake and Japanese whiskeys dominates the centre of the main dining room, and it’s covered in a beautiful pagoda-style roof. It’s like a pavilion within the restaurant. In the back, behind a row of vending machines dispensing Japanese sodas and other sweet drinks, is the ramen room, a steamy spot where you line up for the broth in a setting that feels like one of the street scenes from the original Blade Runner.
Dorinku Tokyo, located on Whyte Avenue, puts fun into the dining experience with Japanese arcade games, anime art and action figures throughout. Dorinku Osaka has a different menu (it focuses on — you guessed it — Osaka street food, which is different than what you’d find in Tokyo) but the vibe is like Dorinku Tokyo’s love of pop culture on steroids.
When we dine, I play my own sort of game, fishing out melt-in-your-mouth slices of Wagyu beef out of an addictively good sukiyaki sauce. The Sukiyaki Pot Gozen features tiny potatoes, noodles tied up in
bows and asparagus spears in the sauce that’s so salty and sweet good, I spoon it into my mouth after cleaning out all the bits of food.
My wife has the Pork Katsu Sando. The meat inside is tender, and the breading is delicate. Noodles in Japanese mayo make for a refreshing side dish.