"Dami delivers excellent service, authentic favorites
The thing about this restaurant,” our waitress, leaning close, her voice suddenly low and serious, said, “the desserts are not so good.” It was the kind of statement you might not want to hear from the mouth of a restaurant employee, the sort of startling admission that could easily rattle your faith in the evening’s chosen eatery. But after we’d been pampered, prodded to try new flavors, even schooled on some of the finer points of Korean cuisine by the devoted staff at Dami, not to mention fed like kings, we welcomed such information and trusted its source as gospel.
In truth, she was only half right. The batter on our fried ice cream was gooey and pale, a funnel cake gone awry at the county fair. Chocolate sauce was cloying and superfluous. But the black sesame seed ice cream itself was unlike any other we’d had — lightly sweet and with the nutty richness and deep aubergine hue of the sesame seeds. It was one of several new sensations afforded us by a Korean and Japanese eatery in Fishers that in a little over a year has come to be one of Indy’s most festive and attentive Asian eateries.
Of course, it was a chilly weeknight. Without a packed sushi bar or a karaoke sing-along party to distract them, the wait staff could dote on us, attending to the smallest of details. And dote they did, all the way from suggesting the best, most authentic items on the menu to preparing our meats for us on sizzling grill tops. As such, service, at least on certain nights, falls somewhere between the showmanship of a Japanese teppanyaki steakhouse and the homey charm of your own mother cutting up your meat — with scissors, a practical if unglamorous Korean touch — while she stands at the table. In short, you’ll be treated well.
Korean-owned, Dami impresses most with its barbecued meats and seafood soups. But like many Korean places, the restaurant ups its perceived chic factor by including a full menu of sushi rolls, sashimi and traditional Japanese dinners. Sushi is quite respectable here. Maki rolls have such over-the-top titles as “Sex and the City” and “Jurassic Park,” and run from $2.50 to $12.50. A somewhat subdued crunch roll had shrimp, crab and avocado with a dusting of toasted panko crumbs — definitely on par with similar rolls around town.
Most impressive was the tuna sashimi, even though we’d ordered the mackerel. But when we saw the shimmering pink filets of clearly fresh, tender tuna on the plate, we agreed not to mention the mistake. Octopus had just the right bite, with a very judicious treatment of wasabi. Among Korean appetizers, the giant seafood pancake — our waitress upsold us a bit, but rightly so — could have been crispier but was chockfull of scallops, shrimp and tasty green onions.
Diners in the somewhat stark room of barbecue tables must order at least two barbecue items, which limited our choices somewhat. But our waitress led us to the most-requested item, galbi ($17.99), marinated beef short ribs, as well as complimenting our choice of pork belly, a frequent choice among native Koreans. Tenderized in a delicate sauce of fruit juices, garlic and soy, the ribs cooked up to subtle but beefy perfection on the hot grill, fed by some real hunks of wood. Pork belly, essentially uncured bacon, came striated with luscious layers of fat that sizzled into delicious little morsels of porcine goodness. They were dipped in a sauce of salt and sesame oil, but tucked with a sliver of raw garlic and a bit of bean paste into crisp leaves of lettuce. They were a revelation of just how the simple flavors of Korean cuisine can add up.
A myriad of traditional sides, everything from a mild fish cake to hot kimchee pickles, was a little less extravagant than at some Korean eateries. Nonetheless, just about every tasty bite convinced us we were enjoying bona fide Korean eats. And the service, as much as anything, told us we’d be back the next weeknight when we needed to be spoiled.
10989 Allisonville Road, Fishers
11 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; 5-9:30 p.m.
11 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; 5-10:30 p.m.
Sunday: 5-9:30 p.m.
Food: Four stars
Atmosphere: Three and a half stars
Service: Four stars
Recommended dishes:Galbi marinated beef ribs, pork belly, tuna sashimi, Korean seafood pancake