Dragonfly Izakaya & Fish Market is inspired by Tsukiji, the world’s second largest seafood market in Tokyo and Japanese family-run taverns.
This izakaya is a modern-day interpretation, originally founded as a sushi spot in Gainesville by a pair of University of Florida graduates. The owners, Hirofumi P. Leung, a Japanese-Chinese immigrant and Song Y. Kim, a Korean-American met at the University of Florida and were working on their business plan by Lake Alice when they were swarmed by dragonflies and hit on the name.
This newest Doral location, their third, spotlights an artisanal fish market. The large rustic space with stone floors and a huge tuna head light fixture and and a bar where you can talk sushi with chef Masatomo Hamaya. Leung and Kim run it with Leung’s brother, Hideaki Ray, the culinary director. The brothers have created a space nostalgic for their childhoods in Okinawa with an old pachinko machine and memory boxes filled with an early Nintendo, comic books and ninja films.
Besides seafood on crushed ice, the market sells binchotan charcoal made from ubame oak that only grows in Wakayama Japan, small batch soy sauce from Kentucky aged in bourbon barrels and Pocky Japanese cookie sticks.
Start With These Dishes
If you go to the daily happy hour, try the $1 James River oysters from Virginia. They have a firm texture and briny taste. From the regular menu, start with bacon wrapped bundles of enoki mushrooms or grilled baby octopus sunomono with cucumber and cherry tomatoes in tosazu vinaigrette. It’s made with vinegar fermented with konbu kelp in cedar casks.
There’s also shrimp tempura with spicy togarashi salt and tentsuyu dipping sauce sauce, a blend of soy, mirin and dashi with grated daikon. Fish and chips are made with beer-battered corvina and served with lotus root chips and tartar sauce. Grilled shishito peppers with garlic ponzu vinaigrette are served with shaved bonito. And maitake mushroom fritters are dusted in truffle salt.
Share These Dishes
Most everything on the menu is meant for sharing, from the tonkotsu ramen with kurobuta pork belly to blue crab fried rice.
The octopus clay pot brings premium tamakimai rice for mixing with squid ink, bacon, asparagus and slices of tentacle, while miso roasted cauliflower is topped with golden raisins and pine nuts in sesame dressing.
Okonomiyaki are savory pancakes with shrimp, squid, octopus and cabbage, topped with powdered laver seaweed, mayo, barbecue-like okonomi sauce and shaved bonito. Chawanmushi are delicate steamed egg custards with snow crab and shitake mushroom, and shrimp gyoza come enclosed in wings of batter, smothered in bonito shreds.
From the sushi menu, try the omasake (or chef’s choice). The fish come brushed in aged soy sauce with the sushi rice made with aged vinegar. It often includes madai (sea bream), amberjack, gizzard shad (spotted sardine), Spanish mackerel, and a toro tuna that is cold-aged a month so enzymes break down the muscle cells and the umami becomes richer.
From the grill, try pig cheeks with sesame oil or hamachi (yellowtail) collar, which is naturally succulent and tender (fish don’t use their necks much).
Save Room for Dessert
Get the cherry blossom galette with black cherry confit, topped with vanilla ice cream and strawberry slices.
Hidden Gems highlights out-of-the-way restaurants in Miami-Dade County. It is not intended to be an anonymous, critical review. For more Hidden Gems visit Miami.com.
Dragonfly Izakaya & Fish Market
Address: 5241 NW 87th Avenue at Main Street, Downtown Doral
Contact: 305-222-7447, dragonflyrestaurants.com
Hours: Monday-Thursday 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m., Friday 11:30 a.m.-11:30 p.m., Saturday 5 p.m.-11:30 p.m., Sunday 12:30 p.m.-10 p.m., happy hour Monday-Friday 3p.m.-7 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 5 p.m.-7 p.m., fish market open 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
Prices: Starters $5-$18, sushi/sashimi$7-$18, robata $6-$28, desserts $8-$12
F.Y.I. Sunday brunch, private room available, free parking in the garage behind the restaurant