Gozu

Dinner – Wednesday, May 27, 2021

This dinner was a long time coming – a group of us had a reservation here in January 2020, which was aborted after a fire shut the restaurant down on New Year’s Day. The expected reopening never happened, because the whole world shut down. We did partake of their bento offering a few months ago, which really whet my appetite for the real deal. So, finally, 16 months after initially planned, I made it in.

Canapés
We opened with small bites: (1) a sliced maki of pickled vegetables and wagyu confit, daubed with a little sansho mayonnaise; (2) wagyu paté and duck liver torchon atop a sprouted wheat crisp; (3) a puffed cracker “pillow” enclosing wagyu tartare, with chives and fermented mushrooms. The last bite was a runaway winner.

Kaluga caviar
Toasted buckwheat-infused silken tofu, shiso, wasabi, wagyu kaeshi foam

The technique used in the kaeshi (typically a combination of soy sauce, mirin and sugar) intrigued me. Here, soy was replaced by beef as the protein source, and fermented in a similar fashion – imagine a beefy version of colatura/fish sauce. In honesty, the caviar was superfluous, given the saltiness of the kaeshi was sufficient as a pairing with the tofu.

Peas in various forms
Farmer’s cheese, salt-cured wagyu knuckle, mitsuba, shiso, hiramasa karasumi

5-day-aged hiramasa sashimi
Fava leaf purée, wagyu shoyu vinaigrette, spruce tips, wild onion flowers

Caught off the Nagasaki coast, the fish was given a light exposure to binchotan, which imparted a lovely smokiness. This thread was carried through in the purée, which was infused with smoked fish bones – and I think there was also a smoky olive oil component. The garnishes added some necessary brightness to balance the fish’s richness. A very sophisticated dish – my favourite of the evening.

Chawanmushi
Suppon, wagyu dashi, takenoko, shitake, green garlic

Hokkaido scallop
White asparagus, koji, braised wagyu short rib bacon, crispy tarragon

Aonori milk bread glazed with butter and tare
The milk bread was served with the scallop course above, ostensibly to sop up the asparagus sauce, but it was just fabulous by itself – a slight crusty exterior yielding to a pillowy interior. The heavy tare glaze soaked into the crumb, almost turning it into a mega-sized version of Saison’s liquid toast. Bravo.

Hokkaido snow beef shabu shabu

Grilled snow beef chuck roll, grilled eggplant
Wagyu confit yaki onigiri, kimchi, cucumber sunomono

The skewered wagyu was meltingly good, as expected, with a garnish of kinome to balance its fat. It was set beside a grilled eggplant brushed with wagyu fat and karashi mustard, emphasizing its meaty textures. The onigiri was filled with wagyu confit, topped with trout roe and then doused tableside with a roasted wagyu-foie sauce – decadent! Good thing the kitchen thought to provide pickles on the side.

Strawberries, fresh and roasted with wagyu tallow and vanilla
Strawberry mousse, white chocolate, feuilletine, sake kasu ice cream

Blueberry-lavender tarts, honey cakes, lime marshmallows

A fine meal indeed, with very nice wines paired (and a more hit-or-miss non-alcoholic pairing). The kitchen has its own voice, unique in San Francisco – I appreciate that! With a slight bit more refinement and editing, many of the dishes would be great. I’m looking forward to a return later in the year, as we all continue adjusting to the “new normal”.

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