Dinner @ Gou Sushi (Sydney, Australia)

December 28, 2020 in Japanese by thywhaleliciousfay

One could say my quest to find more Japanese restaurants offering omakase in Sydney doesn’t stop. Not when a few of my favourites (1, 2) have since closed down. Ultimate sadness.

Gou Sushi has been in operation for 5 years. But it’s interesting that they don’t have much online presence despite of that. I wasn’t able to find any information on their omakase course or of their reservation system for omakase. So I dropped them a message on Facebook even though the Instagram post, which I first read about Gou Sushi, mentioned slots for omakase were fully booked till (end) January 2021.

And I was really fortunate; The staff managing their Facebook account mentioned they were booked out but offered to check if they could fit me in (as a solo diner). So yeah! The rest is history I guess, because I secured a reservation for mid-December. :)

To shed some light on the omakase course offered at Gou Sushi… It’s only available on Saturdays. But not every Saturday though. Head chef Rio Lau Chun Man takes a break every 2 weekends. Uh huh. Say omakase is available on Weeks 1 and 2. It’s not available on Week 3 as the restaurant closes to rest. And then it’s back again on Weeks 4 and 5. But omakase aside, head chef Rio mentioned set menus are offered on weekdays, together with a-la carte menu.

I reached early at 5.50pm for my 6pm reservation. And if one’s booking is for the first seating, I recommend coming either punctually (at 6pm) or 1 minute later because they only unlock the main door at 6pm sharp.

And Gou Sushi being a conveyor-belt sushi restaurant, the space was designed with the conveyor-belt placed in the center of the space in a rectangular layout. So I stepped through the entrance to see head chef Rio standing in the middle of the ‘belt’ island. And upon seated, the staff passed me the omakase menu and drinks menu.

Interestingly (again), I thought everyone had to be present before our omakase course started. But heaf chef Rio started me off first. It was later through my conversation with him that I realised another group of 4 was meant to be present at 6pm too. But head chef Rio went on to say he’s flexible (with timing) because most of his customers for his omakase course were regulars. In fact, he shared his Saturday omakase came about because of requests from his regulars. And if one was curious… The group of 4 only arrived at 7.25pm.

So yes… My omakase menu, AUD85 comprised of:-

1) Dish #1 (above) – Abalone sashimi. With dashi jelly and ponzu sauce. I guess I must be too used to eating braised abalone because I was expecting this to be tender too. However, this was crunchy (as how abalone sashimi would be). It’s texture reminded me much of geoduck sashimi.

2) Dish #2 (above) – Crab chawanmushi.

  
  

3) Dish #3 to #6 (above) – Bass grouper kombu-jime, tuna daikon-maki, ark shell, and bonito.

4) Dish #7 (above) – Scallop and celeriac tempura.

  
  

5) Dish #8 to #11 (above) – John dory, sea eel kombu maki, ikura, and aburi paradise prawn. The prawn was topped with mayonnaise, firefly egg and some crisp bites which I reckon was garlic. Garlic chips.

6) Dish #12 (above) – Chilean tooth fish saikyo-miso grill.

  
  

7) Dish #13 to #16 (above) – Chimaki, cuttlefish, blue mackerel, tuna tartare. Chimaki meaning a steamed Japanese dumpling made of various ingredients, wrapped in leaf (bamboo or banana). And at Gou Sushi, sea eel (anago) was wrapped within the bamboo leaf. Although when first presented, head chef Rio teased and said “糯米鸡” (Lo mai gai – Chinese dish of steamed glutinous rice with chicken, wrapped in lotus leaf). And the tuna tartare was special; Instead of sushi rice, puff rice was used.


8) Dish #17 (above) – Cold green tea soba.

  
  

9) Dish #18 to #21 (above) – Tasmania handroll, egg plant, scampi, and aburi salmon belly. And for the open handroll, there was sea urchin, scallop and salmon. However, the problem with passing the handroll by putting it on the serving plate meant that the seaweed wasn’t as crisp as it got wet from the leftover sauce on the serving plate. Such a shame cause I really like this. And for the scampi, I was told was that the the head innards was marinated with miso and cooked before topping it on the scampi.

10) Dish #22 (above) – Red bean ice cream with chocolate brownie.

It was a nice heartwarming dinner; I came alone but left having made a new friend. Yes, with head chef Rio. Dining at Gou Sushi was like dining at a friend’s place. He was friendly, easy going, and a very engaging conversationalist too. Although my Chinese wasn’t as strong and had to mix in some English. Ha. And yes, head chef Rio was originally from Hong Kong. It’s also through my conversation with him that I learnt Gou Sushi has been opened for 5 years, and that head chef Rio was previously working at Masuya and had trained under Toshihiko Oe san (now head chef at Sushi Oe). What a small world (read my story of how I met Oe san to understand why so)!

Food wise, it was nice. But to manage one’s expectation… It wasn’t nice to the extent that it wow-ed. Rather, it was nice enough to satisfy. And head chef Rio’s sushi was more of fusion than traditional. And because my meal was in December, he shared his sushi rice was seasoned with red vinegar instead of white as a Christmas special.

Would I recommend Gou Sushi? Yes for one’s casual sushi craving. But no if one is after a more elaborated omakase experience. And if one is also looking for a venue for bigger groups, Gou Sushi is definitely a good venue because of it’s relaxed vibe! In fact, Gou Sushi was almost like a hidden gem. Although it’s a mere 3 minutes walk from Central station, there’s barely any human traffic to the restaurant; It’s located between the 2 exits. So people exiting from the left exit would head left and people exiting from the right exit would head right. Thus missing the restaurant. Pity. But that said, head chef Rio has established a pretty strong regular customer base to keep the business going. And it’s seems like he’s only going to get busier because word of his Saturday omakase has gotten out! :)

GOU SUSHI
2/30-34 Chalmers Street, Surry Hills, Sydney, NSW, Australia
+61 2 8387 1148, Website
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Mon – Fri : 11:30 – 15:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Mon – Fri : 17:30 – 20:30 (Dinner)
Value: 7
Service: 8
* Closed on Sat (every 2 weeks) & Sun
** Hours are post-COVID lockdown, and may change when normality resumes.