Sunday, June 13, 2010
It's always hard to find a good place to try out because there are limited choices near Cupertino. Ms. Lin had found Gochi Japanese Tapas that she thought was interesting and wanted to show me. Be sure to make reservations because they tend to fill up and it is better to be safe than sorry. The inside is a lot nicer than the outside. I like the traditional rooms on the slide with the sliding doors. There were a lot of areas where you could dine and feel like you are part of the Japanese culture. We were there super early so the place was pretty empty. I wished they seated us somewhere nicer. Instead they seated us far away in the corner. =*(
At first I thought this was more like the izakayas that we have been to, but it was more like a modern Japanese twist. Most of the dishes are small plates with few choices of entrees. They are most well known for their Clay Pot Rice. This was our last dish and probably the best. It is kind of pricey for what it is. We ordered the "small" Unagi Clay Pot Rice that is $21.50 and $2.50 more to add a side of Dashi Broth. The small size is suppose to feed 2-3 people, but I can easily eat this by myself. O=9 They mix the unagi and rice table-side. In an instant it changes from a pretty bowl of rice topped with a good sized piece of unagi. This dish was pretty good but hefty for the price. The best parts are the crisped pieces of rice. I enjoyed the savory flavor of the dashi broth by itself. When you pour the soup into the rice, it changes the texture and flavor of everything. You loose the wonderful crispness of the rice and the flavors start to mix together. Call me a purist but I just love a simple unaju. I liked it when it was just unagi mixed with rice because the natural sweetness of the unagi comes out and you can clearly taste the sweet sauce with hints of seaweed. Yum!
Luckily we ordered a few small plates before this because I would probably need a Large to be satiated but I wouldn't want to pay $36.50 for just that. Ms. Lin and I agreed in unison to order the Yuzu Ceviche served with the Seafood of the day, Yuzu Salsa, and Homemade Potato Chips. Both Ms. Lin and I are huge fans of yuzu so every time we see that as an ingredient, we must have it. The flavors were light and fresh. Pairing the softer texture of fish with crisp chips was very interesting. This definitely had a more modern and fusion flare. The portion size was so-so, but that is probably why they add the chips in as fillers. Not sure if it was worth the $8.50 but it was fun to try.
There were a few specials not on the menu that looked interesting but a lot of them were pretty pricey for what it is. We came to agreement that we wanted to try the Kabocha Cheese Mochi. It's Kabocha Squash Mochi Patties made with Cheese in a Soy-Glaze, $7.50. The patties were fried and wrapped in seaweed. It looked deceivingly good. Ms. Lin and I love melted cheese and thought that with one bite we would have freshly melted cheese oozing out. Alas, my dreams were dashed. It was just a kabocha croquette/mochi and nothing more. =*( My main reason for wanting this dish was for the cheese so I was let down a bit.
Since we are such avid fans of fried food and melted cheese, we decided to order the Buta Kimchee Cheese Harumaki for $7.50. Rolled up and fried with Pork, Kimchee, and Cheese. How can you go wrong with those ingredients? The shell was nice and crispy. At least the cheese was nicely melted. There were also Fried Shisito Peppers on the side. This dish was actually very light in flavor. None of the ingredients really popped and made a lasting impression. Still, being fried and crispy gets bonus points.
Supposedly they are known for their homemade tofu as well so we debated a while about which one to order. The only kind of tofu I can really accept is fried tofu. Notice a theme yet? lol We settled on Agedashi Tofu. The tofu was nicely fried and topped with minced Red Daikon, Green Onions, and Bonito Flakes. I am not a big fan of ginger and the tofu was drenched with it. If you like ginger then you would like this dish.
All in all I was not too impressed and I thought most of the items on the menu were way over priced. Some of their menu items sounded very good, but they weren't necessarily the most unique ideas. I wouldn't say I didn't like this place because I think it would be really fun in a big group, especially in the private rooms. The service wasn't all that great and we were often left without water. They do tend to get busy as it gets closer to dinner time, so a reservation is a must. I guess I am just spoiled by other izakayas now. For Cupertino this is probably the closest they can get. Still I will give them credit for their seating design because of the strong Japanese culture.
Gochi Japanese Tapas
19980 Homestead Rd
Cupertino, CA 95014