From its humble beginnings, thousands of years ago, the marriage of rice and fresh seafood has evolved beyond a means of preserving fish for a quick, Japanese snack. For many of us born and raised in the Western Hemisphere, our exposure to sushi is limited to a short list of sliced raw seafood (sashimi), handcrafted rice topped with fresh fish (nigiri), rice rolls (maki and uramaki), and hand rolls (temaki), each with the expected soy sauce, wasabi and pickled ginger on the side. Much like our dependence on the Heinz Ketchup bottle when we order up a serving of fresh cut french fries, we have also become reliant on a side dish of soy sauce (and accompaniments) with our sushi. At a recent visit to Goro + Gun , for Chef Tomo Matsuna 's "Omakaze Sushi Experience", the select group of "foodies" in the room were truly enlightened as each participant was introduced to the true artistry of sushi ... one that didn't need the support of any sauce or side dish!
For Chef Tomo Matsuna, Amane Kanai (General Manager), and the team at Goro + Gun, creating a truly authentic, educational and intimate Japanese dining adventure was the goal of the Omakaze Sushi Experience (a meal consisting of dishes selected by the chef, who knows best what to serve the guests). Not only did Chef Tomo serve up the most amazing collection of nigiri sushi with the most incredible sake pairings, he set a completely new standard of expectation for how sushi should look, feel, taste and be appreciated by each and every one of us!
The Omakaze Sushi Experience @ Goro + Gun
This special evening with Goro + Gun was far beyond anything I could have imagined! Having frequented the Japanese Noodlebar many times in the past, the staff was just as friendly, attentive, and genuine as always but, instead of being seated in my usual booth by the kitchen, I was welcomed at the door with a flute of sparkling sake and escorted to the Chef's Table where nine other guests were already seated. Might I say ... "What a spectacular gathering of people!".
The beautiful mystery behind the love and passion for sake and sushi slowly unraveled as the evening progressed. Not only did we learn about rice, sake, and the immaculately selected ingredients used to highlight the taste, texture and experience of each morsel, we also got a chance to enter into Chef Tomo's world and get a personal glimpse of the man who grew up in Osaka ... and his journey towards Goro + Gun.
Every Omakaze Sushi Experience is unique as Chef Tomo carefully chooses to highlight seasonal fish and the freshest of ingredients. Catering to groups of 2 to 10 people, it includes a carefully selected trio of sake, twelve (12) pieces of nigiri sushi, and a traditional dessert. During this special evening, Chef Tomo, who worked for a Michelin starred restaurant in Osaka for seven years, showcased his skills by preparing memorable bites (the perfect "amuse-bouche" with every selection) using carefully prepared ingredients and constructing each piece before our very eyes. As he prepared the sushi, he shared the inspiration for each combination, why the ingredients work well together, and his intention for the overall "bite". In addition, instruction was given as to which sake would best match before and after each taste.
Over and above the symphony of tastes and textures, every creation was prepared like a piece of Japanese art. The combination of vibrant colours, the perfect proportions of ingredients, the uniform construction of every piece, and the meticulous presentation on our plates is now burned in my brain ... setting a high standard of expectation for every plate of sushi I will be served in the future.
"No Soy Sauce Required."
I couldn't have imagined a better way to evolve my appreciation for sushi and sake! I got to experience the mastery of sushi at the hands of Chef Tomo, each piece prepared as it was meant to be ... WITHOUT the need for soy sauce or wasabi masking its true flavour. Here are a few ponderings from this memorable tasting experience:
- I typically avoid mackerel because of its "fishy" smell and off-putting texture. Both mackerel offerings by Chef Tomo were delicate, slightly sweet and vinegary, and pleasant ... with NO fishy smell or aftertaste.
- Many of the sushi pieces were "buttery" and melted in my mouth (the perfect size, temperature, and pleasing texture).
- Each sip of sake was different with each unique piece of sushi (in addition to a change from before and after each bite).
- I was satisfied after twelve (12) pieces of sushi! I will NEVER go to an "All you can eat" sushi restaurant again!
- The marinades and house made accompaniments were incredibly flavourful ... including the jalapeño salsa, roasted tomato, Japanese mustard, yuzu pepper, soy marinated egg yolk, truffle oil, and monk fish liver pate.
" THANK YOU!! " to the team at Goro + Gun for including me in such a wonderful event! It's an experience I will never forget (and will want to participate in again)!
For more information, visit Goro + Gun to learn about the "Omakaze Sushi Experience" or contact [email protected] . I also invite you to check out the image gallery below to get a glimpse of the food that matches the captions provided:
- Image #1: This carefully selected sake flight sets the stage for the unique tasting menu ahead ... Kanpai!! The carefully selected sake flight for the evening ... Kaiun Honjozo, Yoshi No Gawa "Gokujo" Ginjo, and Gold Omachi Diagingo.
- Image #2: Simple decadence in a single bite ... the evening starts with this beautiful Hokkaido scallop (hotate) with yuzu juice, yuzu zest, and sea salt.
- Image #3: Chef Tomo Mitsuno prepares this baby hamachi (tubasu) with konbu, jalapeño salsa, and sea salt.
- Image #4: Sharing stories of of his upbringing in Osaka, Chef Tomo prepares boxed sushi cut into pieces (pickled mackerel with a soy sauce glaze; cooked shrimp with flavourful shiitake mushrooms). Simple. Surprising. Spectacular!
- Image #5: I’ve never experienced fatty tuna (toro) like this ... seared tuna belly, daikon radish, and a garlic chip. WOW!! Brilliant. Buttery. Blissful!
- Image #6: This Chinook salmon with roasted tomato and onion is absolutely gorgeous ... and tastes a thousand times better!! Fancy. Flavourful. Fantastic!
- Image #7: This Pacific saury (sanma), a shiny fish, marinated in vinegar with fresh ground ginger and green onion, is the ultimate amuse-bouche !
- Image #8: One of my (many) faves ... Japanese Seabream (madal), konbu (kelp), and monk fish liver pate. Decadent. Dreamy. Delicious!
- Image #9: "No soy sauce required". This is especially true for this delicate white tuna, marinated egg yolk, truffle oil and wonton chip. Absolutely HEAVENLY!!
- Image #10: Look at the rich colour of the bluefin tuna (maguro) with soy and a yuzu pepper “kick” ... PERFECTION!
- Image #11: As one of the last (and most impressive) sushi offerings to the group, this seared freshwater eel (unagi) with roasted tomato and Brie cheese simply blew my taste buds away!! A buttery, melt-in-your-mouth, symphony of flavours ... WOW!!!
- Image #12: The “piece de resistance” ... seared Wagyu beef with Japanese mustard, and green onion. A few simple ingredients, orchestrated to perfection ... INCREDIBLE!
- Image #13: The perfect conclusion to the Goro + Gun Omakaze Sushi Experience ... Japanese cheesecake with yuzu marmalade. HOLY MOLY!!! Good people. Amazing food. Unforgettable memories!
- Image #14: Finishing the evening with this beautiful and satisfying cup of Matsukaze tea. My belly is happy and my soul is full!!