There’s no such thing as sharing at new Japanese dive bar Goro’s. The izakaya-style spot on Mary St dishes up traditional Japanese street food as small, ready-to-eat plates with no cutting required. This is the stuff you chow down – quickly.
However, these bites of brilliance aren’t the main attraction; they’re almost an added bonus. Cocktails are the name of the game here, with traditional rice-wine sake taking centre stage behind the bar and concoctions including ume-shu (plum wine) and sho-chu (distilled liquor).
The ‘kakuteru’ cocktail includes sake-tini, a mix of Belvedere vodka, Tengumai sake, elderflower liqueur, cucumber and unusual negroni –Four Pillars gin, Campari, ume-shu and aromatic bitters. If you’re a sake student, opt for the ‘journey’, a selection of three different rice wines that will get you up to speed. If your status is more savant than student, take your pick from eight varieties, coming from all over Japan.
Once your drink has been ordered, feel free to settle in for the night. There are seats aplenty – a rare occurrence in the city’s small bars – with the large space separated into smaller ones by curtains or panels. Decorated with a collection of Japanese paraphernalia such as kimonos, paper lanterns and the ubiquitous lucky cat, natural timbers dominate the interior design, with long communal tables and shelving all appearing in the same pale wooden shade.
When your stomach starts to rumble, turn to the food menu for some snacks. Start with edamame or yaki onigiri, before moving onto tataki salmon with chilli vinegar and Goro’s fried chicken with wasabi mayo. Sample a stick of two – options include chilli pork belly, wagyu beef with scallions, teriyaki lamb and Asian mushroom. If the clock has already struck midnight, don’t stress – a late night menu has you covered, with a bowl of 2-minute instant ramen or pork gyoza on offer.
Aiming to produce the equivalent of the best bar in Golden Gai or Shibuya, hospitality group Solotel wanted to create a place where you feel comfortable at any time of the day and where a bartender could serve you a drink like you’re his old friend. They wanted to bring that mystery and authenticity to Sydney through sake, salt n’ pepper tofu and sake-tinis. Has it worked? There’s only one way to find out…