Goro and Gun’s lamb ramen hits the spot during the lunch hour.
West’s saving grace was always its rooftop patio, but when I first heard that the resto-bar (whatever you want to call it) was shutting its doors, I didn’t lament the closure of its massive sun-soaked patio (which is set to open up as a new National location later this summer). Rather, I was excited for the concept that was going to go into its main level space: ramen!
The feel inside the newly transformed space is somewhere between pop art-y and modern. White walls with giant red graphics adorn the place, whether they be a map of Japan, a big fish or the restaurant’s name, embossed and wrapped around a back corner of the restaurant. The room is also surprisingly bright and warm, which is impressive since there’s no natural light whatsoever.
The menu at Goro offers up the usual suspects of Japanese dining, like tempura mushrooms (or yams, etc.) and gyoza, but gets a little more exciting with a lobster sunomono salad. Glass noodles are nestled into a bowl and topped with poached lobster, lemon, cucumber, tomatoes and shaved daikon radish, making for a freshing starter to ensure you have room the main course of ramen that will follow.
Then, of course there’s sashimi, sushi rolls and robata (short for robatayaki, meaning charcoal-grilled, typically skewered dishes) on the menu here, but who are we kidding? 2014 is the year of ramen in Calgary, so that’s what should be a priority for your table, or at least for your first visit to Goro anyway.
There are a few choices here, but make a point of ordering the spicy lamb ramen. It’s aromatic with a smooth, salty broth that starts out the traditional way (a stock made from pork bones) and is finished with tahini for a little creaminess. It comes loaded with noodles, minced lamb, bamboo shoots and kikrage mushrooms. Heat seekers won’t necessarily be blown away by its spice level, but chili oil is just an arm’s reach away if you want to kick things up a notch.
For vegetarians, Goro offers up a mushroom ramen, filled with seasonal mushrooms and shitakes in a seaweed broth, as well as a chilled ramen with cucumbers, tomatoes, seaweed and its soon-to-be signature 48-hour smoked egg. The egg is cooked, then slow-smoked for a complex, lingering flavour. For $3, you can add the smoked goodness to any other bowl as well.
Of course any good restaurant these days is not complete without a quality cocktail program. Put together by one of Calgary’s go-to cocktail men, Stephen Phipps, the list is layered with Asian accents, like the Soy Sour (which is listed as a “savoury” cocktail, but I’d say still sits on the sweet side of things) or the Chu Fizz made with shochu, orange flower water, blood orange liquer and prosecco. More than half of the cocktails weigh in at three ounces here, so unless it’s a Friday, just be aware of how many you’re sipping at noon on a work day.
If this is just the beginning of the ramen craze in Calgary, then I think we’re off to a pretty damn good start.
Goro + Gun is open 6 days a week (closed Sundays) for lunch and dinner.