A Melbourne based writer who is a travel junkie, dedicated foodie and emerging photographer.
Published January 30th 2020
Ramen becomes an art form at Gogyo
Gogyo - a restaurant brand name in Japan synonymous with a unique style of ramen dishes - has recently opened in Brunswick Street, Fitzroy. With other Gogyo stores operating in Tokyo, Kyoto, Nagoya, and Surry Hills (NSW), Gogyo comes with some solid credentials.
Gogyo's logo signifies the five elements
What distinguishes Gogyo from other ramen kitchens is its signature 'Kogashi' or charred style of ramen. The base for the dish is made with charred miso or shoyu (Japanese soy sauce), giving a rich, smoky flavour.
But there is much more to Gogyo as I discovered on a recent visit.
The first thing you may notice as you approach the venue is a large mural on the outside wall. This artwork, by Sydney-based artist Kentaro Yoshida, characterises the five elements of wood, fire, earth, metal and water. The name 'Gogyo' signifies these five elements.
Mural by Kentaro Yoshida outside Gogyo
Walking into Gogyo, the 'five element' theme continues. Note the noren curtains, which divide the entry from the main dining area - these too bear the symbols of the five elements. The five 'pillars' of the Gogyo logo also signify the five elements.
Inside, Gogyo's decor displays modern Japanese elegance, featuring an open plan design with clean lines and pastel colours. The large space seats around 80 diners. Insider tip - if you are interested in watching the creation of the amazing ramen dishes (including the occasional flaming pan), take one of the stools next to the kitchen. It was great theatre!
Inside Gogyo Restaurant
The first of the dishes tried was the tofu salad (fried tofu, brown pear, blue cheese, red cabbage, coriander, sesame dressing) ($11). If you think a tofu salad will be boring - think again! The inclusion of the blue cheese gives it interest and zest, and the beautifully crisp tofu provides great texture.
Next up was the Wagyu tataki, with Japanese pear, yuzu ponzu and shiso (a plant in the mint family, sometimes called the 'beefsteak' plant) ($25). My mouth is watering as I recall this dish. The Wagyu had been very gently seared, providing the flavour of subtle caramelisation, while retaining the melt-in-the-mouth softness of the Wagyu. It was delicate, subtle, and beautifully balanced.
From there, it was time to 'dive in' to a ramen. I'm sorry to say I didn't select one of the signature 'Kogashi' ramens (that gives me a reason to return!), instead selecting Tonkotsu Modern (silky pork broth, half umami egg, bamboo shoots, pork belly chashu (braised), spicy miso paste and garlic oil). This was a wonderful, filling, homely dish, but it was the broth that had us exclaiming. It was so richly flavourful and complex.
Tonkotsu Modern ramen
There are just two items on the dessert menu, but when I saw one of them come out, I knew I had to try it! It was the Matcha Kuzuneri (matcha mocha jelly, black sugar syrup, served with sobacha ice-cream) ($13). The ice-cream was a great balance to the slightly earthy flavour of the perfectly textured matcha jelly. It was the perfect way to round out the meal.
Gogyo also has a drinks list that embraces a range of Australian wines by the glass and bottle, beers, cocktails, and of course, sake. For a more Japanese oriented experience, I can recommend the Hakata no Mori sake, served cold ($19 for 180ml). This was a clean, crisp sake that worked well with our dishes.
To summarise, we had a great experience at Gogyo, and thought the high-quality food we had was very good value for money. We also found the staff friendly and attentive.
I know we'll be back, and would happily recommend Gogyo for anyone with a hankering for delicious Japanese food.
Gogyo is located at 413 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, and is open seven days: Monday to Saturday from 12 noon to 2.30pm for lunch and from 5.30pm - 10pm for dinner, Sunday from 12 noon to 2.30pm and from 5.30pm - 9pm.
To reserve a table, click here, or call the restaurant on (03) 9417 7474.
The images in this article were taken by the writer.