Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Gochi Fusion Tapas, Cupertino

Located in a strip mall in Cupertino, Gochi is billed as a Japanese fusion tapas restaurant. What that means... I have no idea, but my interest was piqued. We showed up around noon today and the place was PACKED. My lunch companions and I managed to get three of the few remaining counter seats.

(Note: The counter seats basically face a wall lined with pretty sake and shochu bottles. For most of the seating, which is on an elevated platform, you're required to take off your shoes. )

The one-page lunch menu offered a good selection, but I didn't notice any tapas-like dishes. Maybe that's more of a dinner thing? No matter -- since it was yet another cold and rainy spring day, I opted for a donburi and udon combination: una don and tanuki udon (about $11).

The presentation for my order was simple, yet lovely. Two bowls -- the donburi portion was larger than the udon -- were served on a small platter, along with a tiny bowl of garnishes. I started with the udon, which was delicious. While the broth had a nice flavor to it, I added some togarashi to spice things up a bit. The texture of the seaweed, crunchy tempura flakes, and slivers of green onion were a good contrast to the chewy wheat noodles. (I was reminded of one of the best, and cheapest, meals that I enjoyed when I was in Tokyo.)

The una don -- a good-sized bowl of rice topped with a generous serving of grilled eel -- was so very good! The barbecue sauce on the eel was just right, not too sweet or too thick.

My co-workers approved of their dishes as well. One ordered a chicken teriyaki and tonkatsu combination (the chicken portion was a bit skimpy); the other went with a salmon sashimi and tempura combination. But if you're more of an adventurous eater, go for the beef tongue cutlet.

The service was friendly and efficient, with hot tea poured throughout our meal. The only downside to our meal was that the food took a while to arrive. Since we were seated just after a couple of large groups, our server had warned us about the wait. Luckily, this problem can be solved by simply arriving earlier on future visits (i.e., 11:30am -- when the doors open).

"Gochi" is Japanese slang for "good food," and this restaurant definitely lives up to its name.

(Note: Credit cards are not accepted, so be sure to hit the ATM before dining here.)

Gochi Fusion Tapas
19980 Homestead Road
Cupertino, CA
(408) 725-0542