Go's Mart Sushi, Canoga Park - a little long
I'd tried Go's Mart a couple years back, but this was my second and recent visit. I got on the freeway and trudged on down all the way to the West Valley, and the number of sushi bars actually start to drop off once you get past Woodland Hills.
I got onto Sherman Way and pulled into the awkardly shaped though still cookied cutter, nondescript mini-mall taht houses Go's Mart. The large sign that lists the inhabitants of the mini-mall sadly didn't inlcude a even a mention of Go's.
But Go's Mart is a tiny storefront situated next to a tanning salon and nearby to a good old fashioned pizza joint we like to call Papa John's. The sign for Go's Mart is a neon item above the door simpling stating SUSHI and that's it. Once you walk inside, you notice a multidude of shelves holding what else but Japanese videos (or maybe not, I must apoligize that I didn't take the time to look closely enough). There were a couple of refrigerator cases on the right holding a few different sakes, some Japanese beers (the usual suspects), a Japanese soda, and cokes and diet cokes. Before you notice the actual sushi bar, you set your eyes upon a fish butcher's case with a scale on top. The bar seats maybe eight tops, along with a couple two-tops and a single four top.
I took a seat at the counter as one of the assistants asked if I wanted food to-go. I told him for here and took a seat at the counter. The sushi chef was serving a Japanese man and his wife and chatting them up, so I kind of felt out of place a little, sort of like crashing a private party. There was no one else in the joint at the time.
I ordered some ankimo (monkfish liver) sashimi to start, which arrived beautifully sliced and cold as it should be in my opinion (sad to say, but I'm not a fan of warmed up ankimo). The slices were pure butter and I'll once again reiterate the old cliche that ankimo is the foie gras of the sea. It was sauce with some sweet miso, and worked beautifully with the ankimo.
The man told me that this was truly the unsung gem of LA sushi. And I think I won't disagree with that.
I asked the chef about the kawagishi toro and understood it too be the toro that is scraped away from the bone, so it's pure toro, no sinews or fibers or whatever, just beatiful bliss as it were. I received one piece of this toro plus a piece of the chu-toro. The difference between the two was night and day. The chu was reminscent of maguro compared to the kawishigshi toro, but the caviar and gold leaf did help the whole endeavor.
The kawishigi was so good that I had to have another piece towards the end of the meal. It's very reminiscent of a great high-quality toro tartare and the kawigishi just melts in your mouth like pure butter.
I also had a piece of maguro and a piece of buri (which is a type of wild Japanese yellowtail, I had asked about hamachi but you cautioned me to try the buri) and both were swell, but the buri was a thing of beauty. Some of the best yellowtail I have ever had.
As I was eating the place started to fill up both at the bar and at the tables. A few teenagers took seats at a table and munched on what seemed like the rolls portion of the menu. I forgot to mention that Go's Mart also serves a wide variety of rolls of the spider, dynamite, spicy tuna, ganja, soft shell crab roll ilk. I'm sure they'd be somewhat better than what you'd get at Crazy Fish or Sushi Mac, et al.
I also tried a piece of a conch-like seafood which I have already forgot the name of, which was good, though very chewy but not as much as octopus or abalone.
I noticed the words "Holy Cow" on the chalkboard menu above the counter and asked about what that was. Foolishly, I had presumed it was some kind of new fangled roll. The chef replied that it was cow, MOO!. In fact, Kobe beef. But not from America, it was from Japan. So I had to order a piece. He took out a slab of it, and slice a thin piece and placed it on a metal container and then began to sear it with the handheld blowtorch. It was delicious, though not as exceptional as I believed Kobe beef to be and yet it had a lingering beefiness that hit you moments after you devoured the piece.
I saw the grilled toro steak listed on the chalkboard so followed up with that item to which the chef said "Good choice". In fact, he said that in response to many items I had ordered. After a few minutes, cooked pieces of toro arrived showered with gold leaf and a light ponzu. Here is the one slight let down. The cooked toro was good but not as great as the toro or kawigishi toro sushi.
Lastly, I finished off with a piece of tamago. It was good though it did not have the sponecake quality that the tamago has at places such as Urasawa.
I washed all this down with a beer and a couple cokes. A truly great unsung sushi joint, which come to think of it, I have never heard even mentioned once in the mainstream press.
re: Alimentary My Dear Watson
In addition to wanting to know about your total, I would also like to know how long this meal took. I have enjoyed Go's a number of times, but each time it was the commitment of an entire evening to have dinner there...perhaps more than two or about three hours. I guess that eases the check total when you consider the experience as both dinner and entertainment for the evening.
i have never had a meal at go's where i didn't want to sleep in the parking lot so i could be there when he opened the next day.
it's best to go early and get his undivided attention at the bar. i've been lucky enough to score a few one-on-one omakases there and have never enjoyed a sushi meal more.
This place is dynamite, still little known and excellent - it's like the Gorikee of sushi bars in the west valley. As noted, it is best to go early, and on a weekday. The space used to be Megu's Japanese Food Mart, owned by Megu, who is Go's brother. Megu now owns Sushi Agoura out in Agoura Hills.
I had a similar experience there a couple years ago, only it was dinner and not omakase. I just ordered a couple of the specials and items that Go recommended. The fish was really good, but the bill was close to $100 and I left still hungry. I remember thinking it was really overpriced for what I ordered.
Plus the way the sushi bar is set up is kind of claustrophobic. Unless they have changed the layout since, the sushi bar was way in the back corner and there was a wall right behind you as you sat at the bar. People trying to get out had to almost brush against you to get by. Kind of wierd.