We finally got around to checking out Gozen Bistro in London, Ontario. Still no liquor licence though! Bummer. Love my Sapporo and sushi! We had to settle for green tea, which is okay, I guess. Small beef – we would have liked to have our own pot instead of having to constantly ask for refills – hint, hint. But service was brisk and friendly. We started out with the assorted tempura appetizer. I gotta say, the tempura was incredible. Perfectly cooked and delicious. Having sampled tons of tempura all over North America, this was one of the best tempura dishes we’ve ever tasted. Light and crispy on the outside with no greasiness and the shrimp and veggies were cooked perfectly. Good start to the meal.
As usual when dining Japanese, we ordered a variety of nigiri sushi and maki rolls for our main course. All were fresh and tasty. We would have liked more options for signature specialty rolls though. We really miss going to Taika on Wonderland Road back in the day – Thames River Maki, Madame Butterfly, Sir Papillion, the list goes on. Sigh. We miss you!
Overall, we enjoyed Gozen – but we weren’t blown away. I think they have a steady crowd so they stick to the basics. From a branding standpoint, we would have liked to see more traditional Japanese decor and little things like Japanese pottery for dining instead of the Mexican motif plates we were given. Our bill only came to $64 (because of the lack of cocktails available) – which we felt was pretty reasonable taking into consideration the quality of the food. And really, when it comes to sushi, it’s all about the freshness. We will likely return, but we are still searching for a replacement for Taika – one of our all-time favourite restaurants and London’s own sushi gem that unceremoniously closed its doors this past year. Gone, but always in our hearts!
From a marketing standpoint, I find most sushi restaurants in London tend to stick with low cost vehicles to advertise, like ads in free newspapers. And for the most part, this makes sense. Why invest a lot in advertising when good restaurants can pretty much rely on positive word of mouth and online reviews. Although London has its share of sushi/Japanese restaurants, I think most are of the lower tier level when it comes to quality and originality. I would love a higher-end, more gourmet level of sushi restaurant to open in London to off-set the number of all-you-can-eat joints we currently have to choose from. We would certainly be regulars visitors. For now, back to the cage.