March 13, 2023

Everything everywhere all in my tummy day 3: same Goh-san, new Goh

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Once I had planned out the tentative dates for our trip, the first thing I did was to get in touch with our friend Fukuyama Goh to book seats at his new restaurant Goh - which has only been open since around November last year. We had missed our chance to go to La Maison de la Nature Goh on our previous visits, and the restaurant was closed last October. It was ranked among Asia's 50 Best Restaurants from time to time over the last few years, and I would have liked to have tried it before its closure.

But the new Goh is now housed in the brand-spanking-new 010 Building, which is also home to the new permanent GohGan as well as a bar. The building sits on the bank of the Naka River (那珂川) just below the southern tip of Nakasu (中洲). The design is certainly dramatic, and the view at night is pretty impressive.

We took a slow walk from our hotel to dinner, and a smile appeared on my face as soon as I saw this parked next to the building...

We brought along some goodies from The Great One, as well as a little something of our own. When Goh-san saw that we brought him packs of mountain litsea (馬告) from Taiwan he chuckled... and told us that it's one of the ingredients for tonight's dinner. He was, though, amazed at how fragrant the ones we brought him were in comparison with his existing supply. So Foursheets and I were pretty happy about that.

The dining experience at Goh is a communal table seating 14, and tonight about half the group were non-Japanese Asians. Since the two of us arrived first, we chose to sit closest to the action.

Goh-san very kindly offered us a glass of Champagne to start:

Charles Heidsieck Blanc de Blancs, dégorgée en 2019 - pretty yeasty, reasonably fragrant and floral, perfumed. Very nice citrus notes with some toast after about 30 minutes.

Tomato, fromage frais, spicy cod roe - sablé made with tomatoes from Kumamoto (熊本), topped with a little bit of fromage frais from Kumamoto, semi-dried tomato, and a sprinkle of karashi mentaiko (辛子明太子) powder providing just a hint of spiciness. Love the creamy tomato soup made with the same tomato, served fairly hot, and came with good acidity along with some spicy kick.

Caviar, white asparagus, potato - ICE CREAM!!!! Sadly, this wasn't a cone that I could chomp into. At least there was some gold on top...

Hidden underneath the cream made with white asparagus from Sagano (嵯峨野) were some raw sea urchin, caviar, and cubes of new potatoes from Sagano. The combination of sea urchin, caviar, and potatoes was pretty familiar, and I loved the white asparagus cream.

Grouper, fennel, bergamot - the longtooth grouper (クエ) from Ikishima (壱岐島) north of Fukuoka was seasoned with herbs, salt and pepper for 10 days. Served with some wild wasabi (山わさび) on top, some shredded fennel, an oily green sauce made with wild herbs, an astringent orange sauce, and a bergamot sorbet that also came with a big anise kick. As suggested, mixing it all up was the way to go.

Wild boar, coliander, chili pepper - this was a gyoza (餃子)-like bun. Sauce was made with Manganji peppers (万願寺唐辛子), and we had a liberal sprinkle of coriander powder.

The meat sauce stuffing was made with wild boar (イノシシ) from Kagoshima (鹿児島) minced together with mustard seeds, tomatoes, and arame (アラメ). Goh-san was right that the boar wasn't gamey at all.

We see the chefs making a soup from dried leeks, ginger, blowfish (河豚) fins, and broth of the longtooth grouper.

Blow fish, soymilk, ginger - DAMN! I specifically told Goh-san that fish cum was off-limits for me, and here we have a tofu made with blowfish cum (河豚白子) and soymilk by Mihara Tofuten (三原豆腐店). Well... I decided to "suck it" by eating this as I didn't want to make a scene. The tofu was very gelatinous and fluffy, with a texture that was very different. The fish broth was very tasty and the ginger flavor was pretty strong. Finally, we also had some chrysanthemum petals and sansho pepper leaves (木の芽) on top.

Stromateidae, canola flower, butter - the silver pomfret (真名鰹) was poached in butter for about an hour. Served with rapeseed flowers (菜の花) and a rapeseed flower purée, along a sauce made with fish broth and cream as well as what tasted like hollandaise. Needed the acidity of the hollandaise and the richness of the cream to neutralize the bitterness of the rapeseed flower purée.

The bread was meant to help mop up the sauce.

The sommelier very kindly offered a glass of white Burgundy to go with the rapeseed flower in the dish.

2020 Dupont-Fahn Bourgogne "Chaumes des Perrières" - the nose was pretty fruity and mineral, like Japanese La France pears. Tons of oak, good ripeness on the palate but also got the acidity. Not bad at all.

Beef, wild vegetable, rutabaga - the kuroge wagyu (黒毛和牛) filet comes from Nakayama Cattle Farm (うしの中山) in Kagoshima, with a marbling between A4 and A5. The sauce was made with beef tendons and onions, and topped with spring mountain vegetables. On the side we have a piece of swede cooked in soy sauce, and topped with black truffle shavings.

Included in the range of vegetables were field horsetail (土筆), burdock, hosta (ウルイ), ostrich fern (こごみ)...

I really like that the beef came in a fairly thin slice, as it probably only required a short cooking time to achieve the optimum doneness in the center, and meant that the edges weren't overcooked.

Rice, firefly squid, spice - I have always, always loved the different versions of GohGan curries, and this time Goh-san used seasonal firefly squids (螢烏賊) in lieu of the usual Alaskan king crab. Looooved the acidity in the curry, not too spicy, and there were tiny tiny bits of diced ginger here. The little squids were, naturally, fantastically delicious. Unfortunately I am trying to watch my weight, so I didn't do what I normally would do when presented with a GohGan curry - which was to ask for XXL portion. In fact, I did't even refill my bowl...

Strawberry, white strawberry, vanilla - we had Awayuki (淡雪) white strawberries from Saga Prefecture (佐賀県) in the millefeuille, with a cream made with vanilla, miso, and mirin (味醂). The sorbet on the side was made with Amaou (あまおう) strawberries from Fukuoka. Looooved the big flavors coming from Amaou.

Tsuno Wine Makiuchi Vineyard Campbell Early Estate - nose showed a little burnt rubber? Or was it like thousands of strawberry achenes? The strawberry notes were definitely front-and-center.

Amazon cacao - a chocolate tart that was freshly made.

Loasted green tea - the makibi bancha (薪火晩茶) was roasted till there is no longer any caffeine left. Pretty nice.

I wanted to choose a wine to go with tonight's dinner, and was deciding between a famous Japanese pinot noir that I've been wanting to try and a known label I knew I would enjoy. In the end the sommelier suggested that I take the wine with some age as it would be drinking well now - and he was so right.

2011 Domaine Jamet Côte-Rôtie - after only 30 minutes this was drinking so well, the nose was soooo fragrant and floral, with violet and lavender notes. Leather and sweet fruits still going strong. Good acidity, too.

This was such an enjoyable meal for us, and we were so happy to see Goh-san again after all these years. We're glad we finally made it to his restaurant, and I look forward to seeing him again in 2 weeks' time in Singapore.

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