Gohan offers fresh and flavorful taste of Japan

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Though Tam died of a brain hemorrhage on Aug. 3, 2008 at the age of 38, just 18 months after opening the Japanese eatery, his legacy lives on in the hands of owner Lee Tran, head chef Tetsuya Kodama and its dedicated employees, who continue to offer fresh, tasty food in a simple, modern setting.

The word "Gohan" means "cooked rice" or "mealtime" in Japanese. Since rice is the basis for all good sakes, as well as the foundation for sushi, Tam felt it was an appropriate name for his restaurant.

Located in the Redwood Gateway Shopping Center, Gohan perhaps is best known for its sushi bar, but it also contains 18 tables and offers a variety of other Japanese staples, including tempura, teriyaki and udon.

It is open for lunch and dinner, and offers bento boxes as well as plate entrees.

The Lunch Bunch found that the restaurant has a pleasant atmosphere — clean and modern-looking, but still cozy and comfortable. The waitstaff was friendly and service was prompt.

One lunch entree, Tonkatsu Don ($10), is served with miso soup and sunomono (cucumber) salad and consists of sliced pork chops breaded in panko over rice containing egg and onion. It was particularly fresh, typical of the restaurant's entrees, and very filling.

The very tasty Chicken Teriyaki ($9), is also served with miso soup, sunomono salad and steamed rice.

Head sushi chef Takeshige Yahiro is a native of Tokyo and has more than 30 years of training in sushi-making. Most recently, he owned Yahiro's in San Anselmo. His experience and passion shows in his work and attention to detail. The sushi is fresh and presentations are beautiful.

Gohan's sushi menu offers a variety of traditional and trendy items. One particular sushi roll is a nod to a popular film. The Napoleon Dynamite Roll ($13) is a tempura roll of unagi (eel), cream cheese and snow crab salad, topped with finely chopped green onions and drizzled with unagi sauce. It's presented beautifully, with Tater Tots. The roll was flavorful and fresh tasting — not to mention filling. The tempura was crispy on the outside, but not at all greasy. The crispness of the outside complemented the tender unagi filling perfectly.

One lunch bunch member decided to try the Philistine Roll ($14), which was "very tasty." The roll contains cream cheese, avocado, shrimp, snow crab salad and a sauce that was just spicy enough without being too spicy. It's beautifully topped with red and yellow tobiko (fish roe).

"Probably some of the best sushi I have had!" commented a Lunch Bunch member. "The whole display on the plate was very colorful and made the food look appetizing."

(Contact the Lunch Bunch at argus@arguscourier.com)

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