Change Is Constant at Goro & Gun, Like It or Not

The folks at Goro & Gun might want to slow down their ever-changing menu and instead focus on their core dish.

Maybe it's my bad for thinking soft-shell crab would survive the eight-minute drive from the ramen hot spot on Main to my office all the way down Milam. I'm a sucker for crab in any form, and the second I saw it on the menu, I had to have it, risky maneuver that it was. When I sat back down at my desk and began to poke around at the sandwich, I discovered the tempura batter on the soft-shell crab to be cold and mushy. The baguette-type bread was stiff and chewy and already a little soggy from the chowchow sauce. To be fair, I did eat the entire sandwich, but it was the pickled chowchow (and my hunger) that kept me going, not the limp tempura or the tough bread.

The summer soba noodle salad fared better during the drive and proved to be a cool, refreshing lunch on a hot summer day. The buckwheat noodles were firm but not, to borrow from the Italians, al dente, and I could have eaten an entire bowl of the ponzu pickled mushrooms that had been soaking in a "traditional chasoba sauce." (A quick Internet search of "chasoba sauce" revealed that "cha soba" is actually two words. The menu, it seems, doesn't always get the spelling of foreign words right.) Cha soba sauce ingredients vary from recipe to recipe, but this one was definitely heavy on the horse­radish, which I enjoyed. A tiny quail egg and sesame seeds topped off the dish and added elements of light protein and crunchiness, respectively. I really wished I had tackled the salad before the soft-shell crab. And I wondered if the much-talked-about ramen would have traveled better. That would have to wait for another trip.

Experiences like mine seem to have plagued Goro & Gun since its opening last March. The much-anticipated fusion joint with a focus on ramen has been raked over the coals by Yelpers and critics alike for what they consider to be inconsistent service and inauthentic ramen. Still other critics and diners tout the unusual menu and a few standout dishes while giving the restaurant a bit of a break because it's still somewhat new.

Goro & Gun's ramen packs a lot in one bowl, but it also leaves a lot to be desired.
Troy Fields
Goro & Gun's ramen packs a lot in one bowl, but it also leaves a lot to be desired.

Location Info


Goro & Gun

306 Main St.
Houston, TX 77002

Category: Restaurant > Asian Fusion

Region: Downtown/ Midtown


Hours: Monday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; Monday to Thursday, 5 p.m. to 12 a.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Brussels sprouts: $9
Unagi corn pudding: $12
Summer soba salad: $10
Tempura soft-shell crab sandwich: $9
Lobster ramen: $16
Miso ramen: $11
Pork ramen: $12
Phat Ass ham hock: $14
Eatsie Boys' Vietnamese coffee ice cream: $5

View More:

Slideshow: A Closer Look At Goro & Gun
Blog: I Want To Know What (Ramen) Love Is

In the months since it opened, Goro & Gun has created a number of stellar recipes. Unfortunately, it has been so busy coming up with experimental new dishes on a weekly basis that the menu is constantly in flux. The result: Sometimes innovative dishes that maybe haven't quite made it past beta testing replace older dishes that people might hope to see on a return visit.

The soft-shell crab? Not on any menus posted online anymore, though I believe it's still a lunch offering. Swordfish poke wasn't on the menu I saw in the restaurant, but after seeing it on a menu on Goro & Gun's Twitter, I got a serious hankering for it. Consistency is something people look for from a restaurant, but it's missing from the menu at Goro & Gun.

When Joshua Martinez closed the Modular food truck to make way for Goro & Gun's brick-and-mortar restaurant, diners lamented the loss of ­cutting-edge Asian fusion cuisine. The truck churned out dishes like kimchi Gulf shrimp and grits or Copper River salmon collars glazed with soy and mirin. It was perhaps best known for its caveman-style bone marrow and lobster risotto, which make appearances on Goro & Gun's menu from time to time but aren't regular offerings. Martinez honed his craft as the general manager of Kata Robata before going the food-truck route with chef Lyle Bento (formerly of Feast) and finally settling in the historic Market Square district with Goro & Gun, which he co-owns with Brad Moore and Ryan Rouse.

The shotgun-style space on Main Street reflects Martinez's taste for the fun and funky; like his food, the crimson-walled spot is a fusion of ideas. There's some Asian-inspired art on the walls along with mounted horns and knickknacks and sconces rescued from the Houston Club. The bar is built up rather than out, and shelves of liquor bottles reach toward the ceiling like rows of shiny ­library books. A library ladder is actually built into the shelving, and bartenders often have to climb a few rungs to reach a bottle on an upper level. What appears to be a taxidermied African wildcat or bobcat lounges on a bar shelf while a lion watches over the space from a landing in the back.

The whole place feels like the den of someone's wacky uncle who spends his summers traveling the world and collecting "treasures" that generally confuse his family but make for eclectic interior decorating. I love it, and I feel it reflects the amalgamation of influences apparent in the cuisine, but I've heard other people ask about the curly gazelle horns and gold-framed artwork with a mix of distaste and bewilderment.

Martinez himself is often seated at the end of the bar by the kitchen, munching on something special he's whipped up or taste-testing a new dish. He's constantly interacting with customers on Twitter, and it's reassuring for someone who's both a critic and a patron to see an owner taking such an active role in his business. The best thing about Martinez, though, is that he seems unfazed by the conflicting reviews of Goro & Gun.

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del.martinis topcommenter

Right on with this review Kaitlin!    We've made better Ramen at home for a fraction of the cost, after shopping at 99 Ranch and Super H Mart. It's not that hard to get it right, even though a true master, the likes found in the movie Tampopo are rare in our country.


It's like if you lived in Tokyo, and a "Texas BBQ" restaurant opened there, gets great press (pre-opening) as the first Texas BBQ shop in the city, and you (being proficient in Texas BBQ) go to the restaurant with high expectations, only to find that they're serving grilled beef.  Even if that grilled beef is tasty, you'll be pissed that you're not getting Texas BBQ.  In fact, you'll probably be insulted that they'd have the balls to call grilled beef BBQ.  That's how those of us who have eaten real ramen feel about it.  We're not saying that the ramen is necessarily bad, we're just saying that it's grilled beef masquerading as Texas BBQ.

And for those of you who think that you can just ignore the ramen, you should look up where the name "Goro & Gun" came from.  Hint: google "Tampopo".


When this place first opened, my sister and I were there for the preview dinner.  And the absolute truth is that nearly every media outlet praised this place before the doors were opened.  Glowing reviews.  We all know what happened.  Josh Martinez must have a lot of friends in the food writing world in Houston and they were doing their share to boost his new venture.  I can understand where they were coming from.  They wanted to help a friend.  There were even a few articles written about the timeline for their construction plans.  The problem is that serious, die-hard and hardcore fans of authentic ramen stood in line and believed the hype of the first real ramen spot in Houston.  So everyone had their expectations really, really high.  But, the expectations were definitely not met.  

I, among many others, posted my opinions on the HP blog, Yelp and B4UEat.  And the response that spawned from local opinions (from the friends of G&G) were on the sour side.  Now, I feel confident to say that we were right.  It's a great place.  When I was in downtown one night, I enjoyed the bar and the crazy look of the place.  But I'm sorry - you don't go to G&G for the ramen.  You go for great conversation among friends and a great drink at a fun spot with off-the-wall decor.   In my opinion they should forget about the ramen side.  I'll definitely go there the next time I travel through Houston for the atmosphere and the great drinks.  Because that is what will keep me coming back.


This coming from the person who wrote an article on edible underwear. Not impressed so far..


As a place that was supposed to be this great ramen shop, I cannot understand why their ramen just isn't that good.  And the lobster ramen isn't ramen, so don't bring that noise in defending their mediocre soup.  I think Robb Walsh said it best "it will remain a pleasant downtown bar with good snack food."


Why would you consider swordfish? Seriously. One of the most overfished species in the sea. One other thing; order soft shell crab to go any distance and it's bound to be cold and mushy. As thin as they are how could you expect the crab to hold heat? 


@DominicWalsh I've been dropping by after work; haven't tried the ramen yet because it's just not the weather for a hot, steamy bowl of noodles.  Everything else I've tried has been from fine to amazing--and I think the cocktail menu is worth mentioning.  Not by the reviewer, though; is she teetotal? 

She also mentioned that she might be judging another dish unfairly because she took it "to go" & it didn't last well.  Really, it's not the place I'd use for "to go" food. 

Your background in the place's "social media" history is interesting--but I wish the reviewer had skipped that bit. Also what other people thought about the decor.  What does SHE think?

Food critics have left some very big shoes at the Public News.  Let's hope the new writers gain more confidence. 


@DominicWalsh "...serious, die-hard and hardcore fans of authentic ramen..."

Wow. Are you like part of a serious ramen collective? Do you collect ramen and keep ramen noodles in their original packages? Do you dress up as ramen and go to ramen conventions, hoping to meet ramen and hang on it's every word?


@Smedley @DominicWalsh Yes.  That's it.  I dress up in ramen.  Yes, I attend ramen conventions.  You're a prime example of why most people don't post their comments on these blogs.  Snide and immature comments are just waiting to be posted by people who merely sit and wait for the chance to post something of zero value.


@DominicWalsh@Smedley Oh... Ouch. Yeah... I was just waiting around for some "die-hard and hardcore fans of authentic ramen" to post...

 Lighten up.