*It is with great regret that I announce that this restaurant has now closed.*
Set back from a narrow street in Shimokitazawa, lies one of the city’s unassuming gems.
Like so many restaurant jewels around the country, the home-like façade may have you wondering “Can I go in?” Rest assured that when you slide that door open and step inside, you’ll be welcomed as one of the family.
ごはんごはん(Gohan Gohan) brings the opulence of fine sushi dining without the hefty price tag. I was lucky enough to sit down with Shiwa Takeho san, sushi master and head chef of Gohan Gohan, to find out more about the art of this renowned Japanese cuisine.
“Every time I make sushi, I am always thinking about making original creations,” he began. Sushi-making is not just about food preparation, “it’s a passion, an art form.”
And the 69 year old clearly has the passion for it. When I asked him how long he had been making sushi he said, “I started making sushi when I was 21 so 48 years!”
“The secret of great sushi is minimal and delicate handling. Pockets of air should be trapped in the rice, never compacted. It should always be soft and light.”
Shiwa san allowed me into his kitchen to see the preparation of my lunch myself. I ordered the ‘nigiri sushi’, a plate of various sushi delights. Various types of fish and seafood are on display to customers behind refrigerated glass. Shiwa san took the raw fish he needed one by one, slicing it with precision. He worked with concentration and heart, arranging each piece delicately onto the plate as you would put down a sleeping newborn for a nap.
It was time to eat and, well, the taste speaks for itself. Fresh and delicately prepared fish slightly warmed from the heat of his hands atop light and fluffy rice served at room temperature, makes this not your average freezing cold set from the convenience store. With each piece made to order, you won’t find any pre-packaged meals here.
Without a doubt, the sushi is amazing and is a specialty of the restaurant that has been serving it up since it opened 16 years ago. However, there are also various other dishes on the menu to get you salivating. Shiwa san told me the ‘kamameshi’ is one of their most popular dishes, a ‘variety of things’ on rice, including vegetables, chicken and fish.
One also can’t look past the bubbling pot on the stove, a dish that takes eight hours of cooking time each day. Submerged in the dark liquid is either yellow tail or king salmon, today yellow tail he tells me. With the extensive cooking, the fish becomes so soft that the entire fish can be eaten, bones and all. The broth is a mixture of sake along with mirin (a sweet type of sake), sugar, salt and water. He scooped up some for me to try. The sweet liquid was delicious as is, already infused with the fish and other ingredients. This dish can be found on the menu as ‘nizakana’ and is only ¥900.
In fact, all the dishes are very reasonably priced ranging from ¥800 – ¥1100.
An artist in all forms, Shiwa san’s creativity can be seen not only from his dishes but in the handwritten calligraphy of his menu to the intricate stencil design on his business card.
If you’re ready for an authentic sushi experience and to meet the master behind it in person, head to Shimokitazawa on the Odakyu or Keio Inokashira lines. At the South Exit, facing the Taro Building, turn left (away from the archway). Walk down this narrow street lined with bill boards until you reach the end, at which point you are presented with two options, to either cross the railway tracks to the left or turn right under the archway. You want to be turning right here. Gohan Gohan is within a minute of the archway, next to the AU mobile phone store on the left-hand side and opposite the variety store.
Address: 〒155-0031, 2-9-2 Tsuji Bld 1F, Kitazawa, Setagaya, Tokyo, Japan.
Tel/Fax: +81-3-5453-4832 Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday: lunch from 11:30am – 2:30pm, and dinner from 5:00pm – 10:00pm. Monday: closed.