By Cassandra Van Keuren Special to The Herald
A fantastic date night spot in a strip mall in Edmonds? Yes.
Bar Dojo is next to a minimart and an empty pho restaurant.
You would not believe that great seafood and fantastic cocktails exist here from the unassuming private entry.
When you walk in you are swept away from the busyness of the streets outside. The interior is woody, with a few tables, quiet with mood lighting and beautiful photos of Japanese gardens. The bar itself is tucked away toward the back.
A wonderful host seated my husband, David, and I, gave us the wine, beer and cocktail menu and told us about a few new items on the dinner menu.
For an appetizer, we decided to share the red curry clams, Penn Cove manila clams with coconut red curry and crisp rice cakes ($13). We choose a bottle of white Argentina Torrontes to go with our meal ($31).
David had a hard time choosing between the soft shell crab ramen and the salmon. But he decided finally on the wild salmon with pineapple and heirloom tomato salad with crisp shallots ($23).
I had no problem choosing. I went for the seared New Bedford scallops with Walla Walla sweet onions and a micro green salad with cherry tomatoes and olive oil ponzu dressing ($27).
Our clams and the wine came out quickly. The waitress did a wonderful job presenting our wine. I found it bright, fruity and nicely dry, a perfect pairing for our red curry clams.
Our clams were small but plentiful, swimming in a large bowl of coconut curry sauce.
I put a rice cracker on my plate and then put my clams on top of that so the cracker would soak up the curry while I ate my clams. The clams were perfectly tender, flavorful and fresh. The curry was spicy but not hot.
When we were done there was a lot of curry left. The waitress asked if I wanted to take the curry home just as I was contemplating picking up the bowl and drinking it like soup. I told her that would be lovely if we could take it home.
We had to wait a little for our food but it gave us some time to talk and enjoy our wine. When our meal came out I was struck on how small the plates were. I thought it would not be enough for dinner but that turned out not to be the case.
David’s salmon was wonderfully cooked medium and was lightly spiced. When I asked for a bite, he said he didn’t want to give it up but soon relented.
It tasted wonderful.
The salad was revelation. I would not think you could put strong flavors like pineapple and tomatoes together and have them work. The salad was dressed with sesame and it brought both fruits together. It was refreshing, sweet and a nice complement to the rich and spicy salmon.
I didn’t blame David for not wanting to share, because I didn’t want to share my scallops either. My scallops were nicely seared with Asian spices and served on a salad with baby greens and cherry tomatoes, grilled mango and the tangy ponzu dressing.
What can I say, the scallops were wonderfully fresh and rich and just cooked perfectly.
The salad was wonderful. If I could make salads like this at home, I would have salad every night.
The chef has a deft hand with tangy, sweet, fresh and rich flavors, intermingling them perfectly and giving us flavor combinations that we have never had.
After that, we had to order dessert: smoked tea chocolate mousse($8) and strawberry sorbet($5) with a French press of Middle Forks coffee($3).
The small French press was enough for each of us to have one cup. The flavor was rich and toasty, not bitter at all.
The chocolate mousse had just a hint of tea flavor. Our waitress said that the tea is there just to enhance the chocolate flavor. It was served with warmed candied orange peel and a triangle of sesame brittle.
The mousse was something truly special. There was a chocolate wafer on the bottom with a mound of chocolate mousse and then a coating of more creamy chocolate. I tasted it and was in love. I could eat this every day and never get tired of it.
The sorbet was wonderful also. It tasted just like fresh strawberries, because they use super ripe berries and a very small bit of sugar.
At the end of our meal I realized that even though portions seemed small, we were pleasantly full.
This is one of the best places I have been to for a date night out with my husband. The food was fantastic and the wait staff was attentive and, in general, awesome.
We ended the evening by driving the short distance to the beach in Edmonds to watch the sun go down. Such a great night.
8404 Bowdoin Way, Edmonds; 425-967-7267; bardojo.com.
Specialty: Upscale bistro.
Hours: 4 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 4 p.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday and 4 to 10 p.m. Sunday.
Vegetarian options: Not really.