Bar Beat

Gangsta Rap Wings and Surfers on Acid at Goro & Gun

Everyone's been talking about ramen lately -- especially the ramen at Goro & Gun. What I want to talk about are its wings.

"We're gonna drive Buffalo Wild Wings out of business," chef David Coffman joked as a bowl of ODB wings hit the bar, the chicken glazed with local honey and topped with a few scattered cilantro leaves.

"You'll have to start showing sports on TV first," I reminded him. Goro & Gun couldn't decide on whether or not to install a TV before opening. Its owners were split on the issue, and eventually came down on the side of a distraction-less restaurant where the focus is on the food and drinks.

But if it came down to just wings, Goro & Gun could give plenty of places a run for their money.

The ODB -- short for Ol' Dirty Bastard, now deceased, who was an original member of the Wu-Tang Clan -- wings I tried this past Friday evening were nice, with a scatter of spice from some sambal mixed into the honey. But it's the two other gangsta rap-inspired wing sauces that keep me coming back to Goro & Gun (along with, of course, the ramen).

The Biggie Smalls wings named after New York rapper The Notorious B.I.G. have a distinctly Korean twist to them, with a glaze based on gojuchang -- spicy, fermented red pepper paste -- and topped with a scatter of cilantro and sesame seeds. They run a close second to my favorite, the Thai-Vietnamese hybrid Tupac wings.

Named for California rapper and Biggie rival Tupac Shakur, the Tupac wings boast a caramelized fish sauce glaze that's reminiscent of the wings at Pearland's destination-worthy Vietnamese restaurant, Thanh Phuong. On top of the wings, you'll find pickled Thai chilis and a few tart squeezes of lime juice to brighten the whole dish up.

A bowl of wings and a cocktail were exactly what I needed on Friday evening after a long week of work and a long walk home. Between Goro & Gun and its upstairs neighbor, Bad News Bar, it's amazing to see how this little nook of Main Street has been transformed in only a few short weeks since they opened.

Behind the bar at Goro, you'll find some of the city's best bartenders -- assembled from the city's best bars -- including Alex Gregg from Anvil, Ornella Ashcraft from Anvil, Haven and The Flying Saucer, Cedomil Slokar from Grand Prize Bar. It was Ashcraft who convinced me to try a Surfer on Acid this past Friday night, despite my lifelong revulsion toward Jaegermeister or anything licorice-flavored.

"You won't taste it," Ashcraft promised. And she was right. I watched as she shook the cocktail into oblivion, pulverizing the Jaegermeister into the coconut-flavored rum and pineapple juice and pouring forth a drink that nearly had the consistency of an egg-based flip. It tasted like a pineapple made of velvet, with the slight hint of coconut at its edges.

Upstairs at Bad News Bar, you'll find Ashcraft's fellow Anvil and Haven alums Justin Burrow and Aaron Lara, as well as Sebastian Nahapetian, who's fresh out of The Pass & Provisions. The one-two punch of cocktail bars manned by this talented group is quickly becoming a downtown destination for happy hour drinks, with Goro providing perfect happy hour-sized snacks.

In keeping with its custom of naming wings after dead but still beloved gangsta rappers, look for Goro & Gun to roll out a dish of Pimp C wings soon. Lemon-flavored drank was Houston rapper Pimp C's favorite (and, unfortunately, his eventual downfall). Owner Joshua Martinez says the wings will feature a lemon glaze in his honor.

But don't worry, ramen fans. Goro & Gun is working on a treat for you, too: The kitchen should be rolling out a tonkotsu-like pork bone broth this week, to add into the rotation alongside its miso and vegetable ramens.

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Katharine Shilcutt