Sunday, February 2, 2014

Don't Pass Up "Go's Mart"

You’d never guess it from its exterior or its name, but Go’s Mart of Canoga Park is actually where one dies and goes to Sushi Heaven. Although it’s quite literally a hole in the wall—tucked in a strip mall on Sherman Way between a pizza joint and a massage parlor—it’s where Chef Go executes sushi wizardry with finesse; you start to feel as though you’re on another planet as Go serves the freshest and most unusual fish (flown in weekly from the renowned Tsukiji fish market), topping them off with premium seasonings—from sea salt to truffle oil and caviar, even decorative flakes of gold.

“No soy sauce,” he commands contemptuously as he serves his artistically, beautifully rendered Omakase (Chef’s choice) creations. “Already very salty.” For those who dare to defy him, a small jug of soy sauce does sit in front of you on the sushi bar.

The journey via Chef’s Choice may begin with a platter of various whitefish (he instructs that the order in which to enjoy the nigiri is from right to left; you’ll notice that there is an ascending order from lightest to boldest flavors). My plate of whitefish featured Kimme Tai, Triggerfish topped with Triggerfish liver, Kelp Halibut and John Dory.

Reminiscent of the style in which Chef Mori of Mori Sushi serves various tuna, Chef Go may then present a plate of Bluefin, Kawagishi Toro, and Regular Toro, although Go's style is to add many a flavorful flourish on top.

The most unusual item I encountered was Shirako, or as Go explains it, "Fish Organs." (I later learned that Shirako is also known as fish sperm!) What appeared as curly pasta in whipped cream formation was actually a seared, yuzu-seasoned concoction that tasted nutty and fishy at the same time. It was delightfully...different, and decidedly pertinent for a pricey sushi odyssey. 

Frequently, the items written on the dry erase board menu change, ranging from Live Tako to Holy Cow (he explains this is Wagyu Beef sushi). Or, when in season, Hair Crab may be listed. There is even Sucker, which is simply Octopus Tentacle.

The items scrawled on the dry erase board serves as the only menu in this joint, sans prices. (Expect to pay about $80 to $200 or more per person for Omakase, depending on when you call it quits; or opt for the a-la-carte option, where you pick only the items you want.) To be blown away by the freshest and the best selections, some of which are not even on the menu, I recommend the Omakase. Or live not so dangerously and choose the Blue Crab Roll or Salmon Skin Roll, which are also written on the board in a strange juxtaposition with the more exotic-sounding Kawagishi Toro and Shima Aji.

To admire more of the seafood before it goes under the chef’s ostensibly wieldy knife, perhaps you can ogle what’s in the giant refrigerated glass display box that faces you when you first enter this small orange-painted space (Go’s Mart used to be a Japanese grocery store about a decade ago, which perhaps also explains the name).

The sushi bar at Go’s Mart seats about 10 people only, and the restaurant does not take reservations. Tell your friends all about it, and advise them not to balk at its unconventional appearance, for this place is sushi divinity.

Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 12pm-3pm, and 5:30pm-9pm; Sundays 12pm-7:30pm

Go’s Mart
22330 Sherman Way, Canoga Park

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