There are three things that set Gou Sushi apart from other sushi omakase menus. The first is the fishes, which are always fresh and interesting, with owner/chef Rio Chun Man Lau practically living at Sydney Fish Market. During my most recent omakase menu ($118/person) visit, his daily selection included chewy boar fish dressed with shio kombu and fatty trevally complemented by Azuma Restaurant’s yuzu kosho (spicy citrus paste). From a short list of well-priced fruit wines, Japanese beers and sakes, the Yuki no Bousha ($95) yamahai junmai ginjo travelled well across out whole dining adventure.
The second thing that Gou Sushi has nailed is pacing. By spacing sushi courses with small hot dishes emanating from the kitchen, diners are never kept waiting very long for food. While you tuck into kobachi (a trio of side dishes including marinated swordfish crackers, mushrooms and spinach entangled with sesame and bonito flakes, and mentaiko-topped crab omelette) the chef has the next round of nigiri underway. For us this was tender ark shell marinated in yuzu ponzu then flounder that had been aged between two pieces of kelp (kombujime) to amp its flavour. As we unwrapped a steamed leaf parcel containing sea eel and sticky rice, Lau had his blowtorch at the ready to make his signature yuzu miso marinated eggplant nigiri.
This leads me into the final thing about Gou Sushi that consistently draws me back: this chef has a unique perspective on Japanese cuisine you won’t find elsewhere. A mentorship under Toshihiko Oe (Masuya) has honed Lau’s Japanese technique, but it’s his Chinese cultural heritage that sees him slip fried leek into his tsuke scallop with kani miso. The tantalising flavour cuts through the richness of crab paste in the beautifully presented raw scallop ship. Menu stalwarts (regulars would riot if Lau took them off) are the fabulous garlic-butter topped aburi Paradise prawn and the crisp lollipop of sticky rice topped with spicy tuna tartare. A great menu newcomer saw sea eel (anago) and marbled kombu (tororo) wrapped around a quail egg served in a dashi kombu soup with chilli radish paste. Gou Sushi provides an excellent omakase adventure for a reasonable price and we’ve never left hungry.