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Go's Mart Sushi, Canoga Park - a little long

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  • kevin Dec 7, 2006 05:13 AM
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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.

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  1. Excellent review.

    May I ask what the bill came to?

    1 Reply
    1. 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.

    2. Address and phone #? approximate price?

      1. 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.

        1. 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.

          1. I did an omakase lunch there one day, and ended up with a (surprising) $100+ tab. It was excellent sushi, but honestly, I did not think it was worth $100 and I have not been back since.

            1 Reply
            1. re: WestsideLisa

              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.

            2. Try "Sushi Spot" at Ventura Blvd. and Corbin in Woodland Hills/Winetka. Very unique and the best sushi I've ever had!

              1 Reply
              1. re: dlmcdonell

                Years ago I enjoyed the sushi at Sushi Spot, but more recently the place itself began to feel too dingy for my comfort. It is rather dark inside and I felt as though the carpet was always a little musty and damp.

                Have they updated or revived their decor?

                Sushi is a total experience for me, and if the place feels dank, I can't enjoy the food.

              2. Just logged into Chowhound after years away. I went to Go's Mart based on the above review.

                I was very disappointed. Weird place, bizarre cramped layout, very disappointing sushi.

                I walked away shaking my head.

                Sometimes chowhound gives me amazing finds; other times it leads me down rabbit holes to overpriced places that are complete disappointments. "Go's Mart Sushi" is one of the latter. (If it's even still open in 2013.)

                10 Replies
                1. re: Alimentary My Dear Watson

                  What did you order? We've gone a couple times and enjoyed the food immensely. But we did omakase both times. It's not a crunch roll/spicy tuna kind of place. Yes, the decor is strange, but you go there for the quality sushi and sashimi.

                  1. re: boogiebaby

                    This raises an interesting question in general - the omakase versus ala carte issue. Years ago I ate at Shushi of Gari in New York with my wife and a friend. My friend and I had the omakase. My wife, after curtly telling me she could order for herself, thank you, ordered from the ala carte menu. I had my revenge. The omakase was sublime, while my wife's ala carte was utterly banal. It was like two different restaurants. I imagine this dichotomy must be common in top sushi restaurants.

                    1. re: MarkC

                      Omakase vs a la carte makes a huge difference.

                      So does sitting at the counter vs at a table.

                      Also, in LA, preference in traditional sushi vs Sasanune/Nozawa style sushi also makes a big difference.

                      1. re: Porthos

                        Portos, have you ever been to gos mart ? What are your thoughts ?

                        1. re: kevin

                          Have not been. Doesn't seem to be my style of sushi with the gold flakes, truffle oil, and all.

                          Yelp photos are very useful sometimes.

                      2. re: MarkC

                        Well, I brought it up because on our last visit, there was a couple wh chose to sit next to us at the bar, and kept asking Go San, "can you make a xxxx roll? Do you have a xxx roll?" the woman kept whispering, "this is just ok..." and then the guy was upset when the bill came "we could have eaten at xxx Sushi for half this price!" that couple was not the kind of customer that should go to Go's Mart, which is why I asked what the previous poster ordered. If the comments were made based on the quality and price of a rock n roll and a spicy yellowtail roll, then I would take the whole thing with a grain of salt.

                        1. re: boogiebaby

                          Yes, the poster from a couple days ago did not mention exactly what he or she had.

                          And it is true you can go here, and solely order a bunch of the new fangled cream cheesey rolls or you can go the traditional sushi route with some fusion fluorishes, which is the path i have always taken here and at most every other sushi bar, with the exception of if i'm being dragged to all you can eat sushi or something of that nature where i know that rolls are all that they serve.

                    2. re: Alimentary My Dear Watson

                      Never take 7 year old reviews without a heavy dose of salt. Thanks for the update

                      1. re: BrewNChow

                        I have not reviewd it in the past few months, but I still think it is as good as ever.

                        this is one of the places where if you don't like it, please stay away, more room for me.

                        anyhow, it is some of the greatest, interesting preparations of sushi in the city and is defnitely not traditional what with the fluorishes of gold leaf and truffle oil there.

                        Anyhow, last time I was there, it was still pretty fucking good, and i still would rank it in my top four. just my opinion. mabye i'm alone on this one though.

                        but interesting that you went based on my review from 7 years ago (???) how time flies.

                        1. re: kevin

                          It does indeed.

                          Have you tried Sushi Tsune in Tarzana? I think it's excellent, but it's been all but deserted the last couple of times I've gone.

                    3. Just thought I'd bump the shit out of this:

                      Anyone been recently ?

                      Thanks.

                      1. Today I had my fourth food epiphany moment when I had lunch at Go Mart. I had been moaning the loss of Tama Sushi a few years ago, and with it the lack of good Sushi in the Valley. Until today. Unequivocally this is the best sushi I have ever eaten. The person who took me has eaten at Urasawa's several times, and told me that it was a tossup between the two. We ordered omikaze, and only towards the end did my tongue tell me that this was enough. True it's a hole in the wall, but who cares. The bill, with tax and a beer came to $220, and IMO it was worth it.

                        9 Replies
                        1. re: pizzafreak

                          $220/person or total between you and and the person who took you? And by "took", did that mean s/he treated, and if so, can I be his/her friend?

                          1. re: PeterCC

                            Total for the 2 of us, and it was a bday treat.

                            1. re: pizzafreak

                              That's a pretty good price! Approximately how many dishes/pieces did you have?

                              And Happy Birthday!

                            2. re: PeterCC

                              You should hit it up Pete.

                              But caveat emptor: it is nothing like Shunji. It would be like comparing apples to oranges as the old prover goes.

                              1. re: kevin

                                In your experience kevin doesn't that lunch seem on the inexpensive side for Go Mart, especially considering the "omakase" approach?

                                1. re: Servorg

                                  Not exactly. These days it can definitely range about 125 even before tax and tip.

                                2. re: kevin

                                  It, Asanebo, and n/naka are basically at the top of my to-try list, realistically speaking. Obviously Urasawa is at the top or my list but I can't really justify spending that money (nor do I have it).

                                  1. re: PeterCC

                                    Peter, do you have any urge to hit up Yamakase as well (or did you go already)?

                                    1. re: Servorg

                                      Yamakase is also on my to-try list (have not been yet), but its minimum price of $200 puts it on the other side of my "red line" along with Urasawa (not to be confused with Obama's "red line").

                                      I should clarify that this is my sushi/kaiseki to-try list, which is pretty much my top list in the meta-list of lists in my mind. :-)

                            3. FYI - Go's Mart will be closed from 9/20 to 9/25. Not sure of the reason. Doesn't seem long enough for a renovation or trip back to Japan. Maybe just a mini-vacation for Go-san and family.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: PeterCC

                                Maybe a mini-vacation.

                                Thanks for the heads up.

                                It was also closed for an extended period of time over the Thanksgiving weekend last year.

                                1. re: PeterCC

                                  Where you thinking of hitting it up ??????

                                  1. re: kevin

                                    Yes, possibly next month...

                                    1. re: PeterCC

                                      Ok. Dope.

                                      I hope you enjoy it.