Carmen Paponetti has followed in Douglas Katz' footsteps by opening his new restaurant in Shaker Heights' Van Aken Market Hall. Inspired by Japanese yakitori bars, Domo Yakitori & Sushi is small but mighty, offering a menu that boasts traditional and creative sushi rolls along with yakitori — grilled skewers — and okonomiyaki — a layered dish comprised of cabbage pancakes and a number of add-ons. Paponetti brings with him more than 15 years of sushi making experience as the owner of the Cabin of Willowick and his previous work for Zack Bruell at Parallax on West 11th Street and the former Kafeteria on Public Square. “The idea behind Domo is to offer different Japanese food that either currently is or at one time has been Japanese street food,” says Paponetti. “The nice thing about Domo is that it really gave me an opportunity to open a place that was more in line with the food I’m passionate about making.” Here are three things to know about Paponetti’s latest restaurant.
Rice, Rice Baby
Don’t be fooled by the size of the menu: while there are only 10 sushi rolls and five vegetarian rolls, sushi takes center stage. Of course, there are traditional rolls with small twists, such as the Dragon roll ($13 per 8 pieces) filled with shrimp and kanpyo gourd and topped with avocado, crab salad and tobiko, or fish roe, but there are also inventive new takes. Try the Cleveland volcano roll ($11 per 8 pieces) filled with avocado, cucumber, kanpyo gourd and fried onion and topped with crab salad and tobiko. “My passion is a little more in the simplicity of it,” says Paponetti. “When you make sushi, you manipulate the rice, but the fish and the other ingredients you just present. There’s nothing to do to the tuna to make it taste better. So you cut it and present it."
Sticks and Stones
You can pick and choose from a variety of skewers ($10-$13), such as pork belly ($10), quail eggs ($12), shishito peppers ($10) or crispy chicken wings ($10), thighs ($10) and meatballs ($11). For something a bit heavier, dive into the okonomiyaki ($9), a dense cabbage pancake served over a layer of bacon and a soba noodle cake then topped with spicy mayo, okonomiyaki sauce, bonito flakes and scallions. You can even level up these pancakes with additional toppings such as diced and grilled octopus ($5), shrimp ($5) and smoked salmon ($4) or shiitake ($2), shishito peppers ($4) and leeks ($2). “Okonomiyaki is typically made in stalls on the street, almost like in the same style as hibachi where it’s made on a flattop,” says Paponetti. “I think it checks all of the boxes of what you would look for in something to eat.”
With only 600 square feet of space, Paponetti originally planned on setting up Domo as a yakitori bar with more than 22 seats and counter service. Although the setup has changed somewhat, with only six seats for dine-in service, everything on the menu is available for carryout, which visitors can also enjoy at one of the more than 75 seats at the Market Hall. He’s even got plans to eventually offer inventive cocktails, sake and Japanese beers. “If we ever get back to where social distancing isn’t the norm, I would love to be able to get back to its intended design and feel of a yakitori bar,” he says.
When You Go: 3401 Tuttle Road, Shaker Heights