For many Petalumans, Gohan is a go-to restaurant for great sushi and creative sashimi.
The best way to experience this restaurant is to snag a seat at the sushi bar, where you can watch the chefs create innovative and tasty masterpieces of sushi, and excellent fresh “new style” sashimi, many with a creative flair not seen in other restaurants. We usually sit at the bar so we can ask the sushi chef about the tasty dishes as they make their way to the dining area.
Our most recent visit was just after they reopened after a month of doing some renovations, giving the restaurant a fresh coat of paint and generally making it even nicer.
One of the changes was the place where the guests sit at the sushi bar. The bar surface was upgraded to a live-edge piece of walnut that actually climbs up the front of the sushi bar itself. We both thought it made the sushi bar feel more warm, cozy and inviting.
The test of a good Japanese restaurant is how well they make the simplest dish. For us, that dish is edamame, or soy beans. They are a kind of Japanese beer nuts – something to munch on while you wait for your food, and to go with a beer or other beverage. The edamame at Gohan never disappoints. They are always perfectly cooked, served warm, and have a nice coating of what appears to be kosher salt.
We always order J-Pop Nachos, our favorite dish on the menu. The base is set of four large shiso leaves dipped in tempura batter and fried to a crisp. The leaves are each topped with spicy tuna, slivers of green apple, avocado and red tobiko. It is a feast for your eyes, and a party in your mouth.
The hirame carpaccio is halibut with julienne of shiso, an herb that tastes like a cross between mint and basil, and then finished with lemon zest, olive oil and ponzu. It is so fresh, healthy and delicious.
Another dish worth mentioning is the salmon skin roll sushi. They do something very different to the crispy salmon skin, which makes it ultra crunchy and easy to eat, as well as being delicious.
The Rolling Stone Roll is another fun specialty sushi that we tried recently. This was a large roll filled with spicy fresh salmon, cucumber and yellowtail. It is topped with avocado, unagi sauce, spicy mayo and crunchy rice balls — gone from the plate in a flash.
In case you are worried that there might only be sushi and sashimi at Gohan, rest assured that there is an extensive menu of traditional cooked Japanese foods. One lunch we tried was the Bento Box meal, which was a large amount of food for a very reasonable price of around $13. Items such as chicken, salmon or New York steak teriyaki, or crispy chicken Katsu may all be ordered at lunch and come with miso soup, steamed rice, mixed tempura (which was outstanding) and three pieces of California roll. This is a very good value.
Gohan has a beer and wine license, and offers a modest selection of items that work well with their food. They even have a non-alcoholic Kirin called Free which is great to enjoy at lunch, or when you are the designated driver.