Goro & Gun's Summer Menu Goes Far Beyond Ramen

It had been almost a year since my last meal at Goro & Gun when I received an invite to taste items from their new summer menu. Given my enthusiasm for their cocktails (delicious) and chicken wings (properly crispy), I was curious to look beyond the ramen dishes for which G&G is known and explore some of the other items on the menu.

Naturally, professionalism dictated a thorough exploration of the cocktail menu, as well.

For me, spring means lots and lots of dill. I truly crave fresh, creamy dill dressing on a daily basis, so it was impossible to resist my favorite herb when featured in a cocktail--specifically, the X.L.R.8 ($11), a bubbly cocktail that combines dill and Prosecco with gin, lemon, lime, elderflower, and G&G's in-house Lemongrass Syrup. My problem with "light summer cocktails" is that the phrase is often code for "flavor-free" but the X.L.R.8 ("accelerate," if you haven't figured it out already) packs plenty of punch--and yes, you can taste the dill. All that flavor without the trouble of eating a salad!

Since I wanted to taste at least a couple of dishes from the M.C. (main course) menu, I only chose one item from the izakaya (small plates/starters) selection. Sugar snap peas ($7) are Goro & Gun's answer to the edamame appetizer. Fresh sweet peas are glazed with a sweet chili sauce and tossed with a crumble of hazelnuts. As my friend told me before my first bite, "You're never going to care about edamame again." The peas are quick-blanched, and retain a fresh juiciness--and crunch--against the sweet chili sauce. It's the perfect balance of freshness and indulgence--plus, no pile of edamame shells at the end.

We tasted two of the nine dishes featured on the M.C. menu: House-Made Elk Sausage ($16) and Braised Pork Vindaloo ($16). Chef JD Woodward stopped by the table to chat about the elk sausage, but first we had to talk about the creamed Brussels-kraut that sat in the middle of the plate. Pickled and fermented like kimchi, the sprouts are then tossed in a cream sauce, and served with generous chunks of pork belly--just in case it wasn't rich enough for you. The elk sausage is also pitch-perfect, with 30 percent pork cutting through 70 percent elk, resulting in a rich, spicy sausage that balances the gaminess of elk with pork fat and generous amounts of Five Spice. You can create endless flavor combinations with the toast points, caramelized onions, and sake mustard served on the side.

Was I nervous about the heat the Braised Pork Vindaloo would deliver? Yes. Were my fears unfounded? The answer to that is also yes. The dish has enough heat to balance the richness of the pork and gravy, but it's not five-alarm, and cilantro brightens up the dish. It has potatoes and rice, so it's hearty--perfect for sharing, especially if you want to try more than one thing on the menu.

With no room for dessert, I settled on one final cocktail--the Runaround Sue ($12), also known as "the drink that converted me to bourbon-ism." A dedicated Scotch drinker, I generally find bourbon drinks too sweet, but Sue is a well-rounded gal whose sweetness is countered by the addition of Lavender Bitters, Ancho Reyes, Byrrh Quinquina, and Crème de Violette. (I'm a sucker for anything with Crème de Violette.) It's a Manhattan for those of us who don't really love Manhattans, and the sweet-tart "Guerilla Canning" Pickled Grape garnish is even better than a cherry on top.

You can try all of this and more on Goro & Gun's new summer menu right now--and don't forget their eight-hour happy hour that extends from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.

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Christina Uticone