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goji japanese restaurant


mrbigjas
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ok things have been a little slow recently, and there are a couple of new places i've been. so why not post about them?

last friday lunch we headed over to goji japanese restaurant, on hamilton at 20th, kind of across from the wawa (and from mr. chicken). this place purports to be tokyo cuisine. now, i've never been to tokyo, but i know tasty stuff when i have it.

the menu at lunch mainly consists of a few entrees, several noodle dishes, a few salads, and sushi of several kinds. not inexpensive, but not outrageous either.

we had salmon rolls, spicy tuna, eel (for the one among us who can't eat raw fish at the moment). all rolls were inside-out style, and were about $6 or so, for eight pieces. they're smaller than regular maki for lunch. the rolls were... a little sloppily made, but they tasted great. i wonder if they wouldn't present better being rolled regular style.

one in our party ordered the 'funny fun-gai' salad (many of the dishes have silly names), and was brought a salad rife with mushrooms of several varieties--shiitake, oyster, enoki--and a tangy dressing. great stuff, the warm mushrooms and the cool greens contrasting well.

'steamin soba' was presented with a large tempura shrimp on top, the bits of tempura batter spooned into the bowl by the waitress where they crackled. 'chillin soba' was similar; the main difference is that it was loaded up with so much onion that i could taste it the next day. the waitress pointed out that if i liked less onion i could move it aside--well, obviously, but boy was there a lot of it. otsuyu sauce served in a small pitcher on the side. these dishes were damn good, but really for 10 bucks shouldn't you get more than one tempura shrimp, even though it's a nice big one? come on now, soba noodles don't cost anything...

chicken fried rice was presented in a nice bowl shape and was raved about by the person who ordered it, and the ubiquitous (well, not here in philadelphia, but other places) white miso-glazed black cod was devoured by the person who ordered it--he nicely offered to let us all taste it before it came, and then grew strangely silent as he ate, and next thing we knew it was gone, and none of us had a bite.

service was good, with the exception that the dishes were brought as they were made, which made for a moment of awkwardness as i sat around waiting for my lunch after everything else was delivered. it's one thing to do that at a chinese restaurant where everything is assumed to be served family style, but these are individual dishes, so they should be brought out together. i assume they'll work things like this out.

no liquor license yet, but they welcome BYOB. i notice that their dinner menu is pricier.

conclusion: this city has a dearth of japanese restaurants, and there is plenty of room for several more. goji is a damn good addition, and i'll be back soon to do a much more extensive exploration of the menu (read: dinner).

the one sad part about this is how our very enjoyable lunch merely reinforced what a loss it is for dining in philadelphia that paul couldn't make it work out with his place.

Edited by mrbigjas (log)
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'steamin soba' was presented with a large tempura shrimp on top, the bits of tempura batter spooned into the bowl by the waitress where they crackled.  'chillin soba' was similar; the main difference is that it was loaded up with so much onion that i could taste it the next day.  the waitress pointed out that if i liked less onion i could move it aside--well, obviously, but boy was there a lot of it.  otsuyu sauce served in a small pitcher on the side.  these dishes were damn good, but really for 10 bucks shouldn't you get more than one tempura shrimp, even though it's a nice big one?  come on now, soba noodles don't cost anything...

conclusion: this city has a dearth of japanese restaurants, and there is plenty of room for several more.  goji is a damn good addition, and i'll be back soon to do a much more extensive exploration of the menu (read: dinner). 

the one sad part about this is how our very enjoyable lunch merely reinforced what a loss it is for dining in philadelphia that paul couldn't make it work out with his place.

Do they make their own soba? That might make Goji going to right there, but that would cost a decent bit, in labor and time.

But tempura shrimp with soba noodles does need to come with more than one shrimp, even if you have to raise the price.

Herb aka "herbacidal"

Tom is not my friend.

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  • 5 months later...

Pardon me for blowing the dust off this old topic...

I stopped by Goji on my way home from work yesterday for a solo dinner (Cherie's out of town for work). We've been there a number of times, and the food has always been wonderful, and last night was no exception.

I started out with some "rice balls" (I don't recall the exact name for them, and I don't see them on the online menu), but these are sort of like cakes of sushi rice, with a bit of fried onion embedded in the center, and nori wrapped around the outside. With just a touch of soy, these could be summed up by the phrase "elegance through simplicity". Very simple, very delicious!

Next was a spicy cruncy salmon roll. This is one of their "simple rolls". I was by myself, and only in the mood for relatively simple fare, so this was perfect. We have had some of their specialty rolls, though, and those have been delicious as well... albeit a bit on the small side, especially after you've experienced the special roll extravaganza that's put on at Raw.

For an entree, it was the traditional Kasane Soba Tempura. I'm going to cheat and copy this description from their menu: "3 tiers of Japanese imported buckwheat noodles (served cold) with a time honored recipe soup, called Otsuyu, accompanied with shrimp and vegetable tempura."

Very good. The tempura is light and crunchy. This is one of our favorites, and it seems that either my wife or myself will always get this when we go.

Accompanied with a carafe of sake, and it was a perfect meal for my gullet.

If you haven't been yet, do yourself a favor and check it out. I think this is a very unique place in Philadelphia... run by a family with a long cooking tradition in Japan. I get the feeling that they may be flying under most people's radar, and struggling for business a bit. It seems in Philly, Japanese is only popular if it's some sort of Japanese-Chinese-French-Inuit fusion. Gogi is something special, and I hope we don't lose it...

__Jason

Edited by guzzirider (log)
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over on phillyblog someone mentioned a $20 or $25 tasting menu thing they're doing.

Yeah... I read that, but haven't seen any of the flyers myself. Apparently you have to call ahead and book it. I'm not sure how they're getting the word out, but I hope it draws in some business for them.

__Jason

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I started out with some "rice balls" (I don't recall the exact name for them, and I don't see them on the online menu), but these are sort of like cakes of sushi rice, with a bit of fried onion embedded in the center, and nori wrapped around the outside. With just a touch of soy, these could be summed up by the phrase "elegance through simplicity". Very simple, very delicious!

I think those are called onigiri, and if they have them, I *must* get over to this place soon. I've been longing to find a place in this city that serves them! :wub:

sockii

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I started out with some "rice balls" (I don't recall the exact name for them, and I don't see them on the online menu), but these are sort of like cakes of sushi rice, with a bit of fried onion embedded in the center, and nori wrapped around the outside. With just a touch of soy, these could be summed up by the phrase "elegance through simplicity". Very simple, very delicious!

I think those are called onigiri, and if they have them, I *must* get over to this place soon. I've been longing to find a place in this city that serves them! :wub:

Yes... I believe you're right! I have a coworker that said the same thing... he hasn't found them anyplace else around here. The first time I tried them was after my conversation with him, and wow... they are good!

__Jason

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over on phillyblog someone mentioned a $20 or $25 tasting menu thing they're doing.

Yeah I did it. I give it a solid okay rating. I don't have time to write a full review, but I wasn't overly impressed or miffed. I was there on a Friday night. There was barely anyone in the restaurant though they still sat us next to the only other occupied table in an otherwise empty restaurant. They even closed early. The tasting menu is likely a last ditch effort IMO to find some customers in a city oversaturated with mid to high dollar Japanese joints. I wanted to give a try of some cuisine I can't normally afford, and my girlfriend just got some very promising standardized test scores back.

The menu is 6 small courses for $25/person. It's kind of funny because many of the courses come out on huge plates (must be their regular portion sizes... I hope!). Just call and mention the deal when you make the reservation. They made a few mistakes with our orders, and they ran out of a number of things, so we tried a few more things than I would have liked. That being said, stick with the fish/seafood options. The sashimi and salmon entree options were excellent. The kurobota to me was nothing but a kind of bland stir fry. They do have a liquor license now. I normally like saki, but the house saki smelled a lot like rubbing alcohol to me. I still drank it :laugh:

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  • 2 months later...

Goji, as we knew it, appears to be dead. Word is that Japanese-owned Japanese restaurant (a rarity in Philly) has changed hands. You can still find the old menu on their website (http://gojirestaurant.com), but the new menu, which was put in place on the first of the year, is a mere shadow of it's former self. All of "traditional Edo" dishes have been ripped out, except for the soba noodles. No more onigiri, no more agedashi tofu, no more tonkatsu... minimized sushi menu... and not a single Japanese treat on the dessert menu either (but they do have key lime cheesecake, and an ice cream bomba... ugh).

And the sake selection (which was never that great... my biggest complaint previously) was whittled down to a single "jug" selection last night. Weak.

The new menu is very americanized. Seared tuna w/ wasabi mashed potatoes, anybody?

This makes me very sad... and a little angry, as I have been a big cheerleader of theirs, and have turned on a number of friends to the place who may not have found it otherwise. It seems they may have been cursed by location, and perhaps american distaste for any Japanese that's not "fusion". :angry:

Oh, well... as they say, it's better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all... I'll miss you Goji...

__Jason

Edited by guzzirider (log)
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And here's a quote from a discussion about this on Phillyblog:

Confirmed:

I called them.

The menu has been shortened

In February they will be changing to "a Japanese fusion French high end dining experience"

WTF?

I weep for Philly's loss.

Welcome to more dumbed down Asian cr@p.

Welcome to the deep fried burrito as big as your head, instead of Mexican

Welcome to MSG laden, flour thickened, overcooked stir fry instead of Chinese.

Welcome to the fryking Croissandwich instead of French

Welcome to all the fryking restaurants who make their food mediocre and Americanized to fit a pallet trained on cheese steaks and doughy pretzels.

More importantly I lament the end of my favorite restaurant in Philly.

Glad I'm not the only one emotionally scarred by this.

__Jason

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And here's a quote from a discussion about this on Phillyblog:
Confirmed:

I called them.

The menu has been shortened

In February they will be changing to "a Japanese fusion French high end dining experience"

WTF?

I weep for Philly's loss.

Welcome to more dumbed down Asian cr@p.

Welcome to the deep fried burrito as big as your head, instead of Mexican

Welcome to MSG laden, flour thickened, overcooked stir fry instead of Chinese.

Welcome to the fryking Croissandwich instead of French

Welcome to all the fryking restaurants who make their food mediocre and Americanized to fit a pallet trained on cheese steaks and doughy pretzels.

More importantly I lament the end of my favorite restaurant in Philly.

Glad I'm not the only one emotionally scarred by this.

__Jason

And the question I would now have is whether they would be willing to turn back the clock and do the original menu as a special-event, by-appointment-only sort of thing. An omakase or kaiseki?

Maybe as a DDC dinner, or as a smaller eG party?

Edited by Capaneus (log)
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And the question I would now have is whether they would be willing to turn back the clock and do the original menu as a special-event, by-appointment-only sort of thing. An omakase or kaiseki?

Maybe as a DDC dinner, or as a smaller eG party?

Who knows... the restaurant has new ownership now, and I'm assuming the kitchen has changed as well.

At this point, I'm going to wait and see what the place turns into this Feb. As far as I'm concerned, the old Goji is gone, and whatever turns up in Feb is going to be a completely different place, to be judged on it's own merits, rather than be compared to "what was".

__Jason

Edited by guzzirider (log)
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