Opened in Dec 2016 is this stylish and slick restaurant in the heart of George Town. The head chef, Aldrien, called it a modern Japanese fusion style cuisine using the freshest ingredients and produces to masterly craft an exciting menu that has never been seen here in Penang at any of the Japanese restaurants.
The table menu of one page is small and selective but yet extensive and interesting for a small Japanese restaurant. The pricing is fair and you pay for what you get on the quality and freshness of the food. It may be beyond the reach of the many locals because of how GOMO has priced its menu targeting the discerning types whose preference is for a casual fine dining cuisine over the popular Penang street foods or the mushrooming number of cafes dotted across George Town.
We chose one dish from the Kyoyu Cold Platter - a soft shell crab with ikura, black pepper vinaigrette, one dish from Kushiyaki - leek and soy caramalised chicken thigh and a third dish from Shushi Yugo - rare waghu with grilled cucumber and caramalised onions and finished with a matcha cream brûlée and raspberry sorbet.
There is no wine list but there is a wine cellar separated from the main dining room with a floor to ceiling see through glass wall and black lacquered shelves stocked with selective wines and sake chosen by their in-house Head Sommelier, Tor. A softly spoken young man who has many years of experience working as a sommelier at other restaurants and hotels. He could not be much happier to explain the various types of wine on the shelves and help us choose one for our table. We had chosen a beautiful and delicate French wine, Chateau Le Gravelle 2014 Bordeaux Blanc Sec, which was perfect for our meal.
The restaurant has warm light fittings but not too dull or moody, furnished with black tables and chairs with a long bench on one side of the wall with some colourful throw pillows, offset by a light whitewashed wall and a long wall painting of a Japanese theme of a samurai and a sultry looking Geisha. The back section of the restaurant has a wall framed with some of the world most renowned chefs - probably fans of the restaurant's head chef who was trained at several well known restaurants, including a stint at one of the Australian's celebrity chef, George Colombaris's restaurant - The Press Club.
The restaurant wasn't full on a Monday night. There was a few other tables, all a table of two. Our food arrived first with the soft shell crab salad. The plate looked beautifully on the table in front of us. I knew it was going to be good just by looking at it - the salad looked fresh and the soft shell crab had been lightly battered and not dripping with oil. One bite on the soft shell crab was packed full of flavour - soft and moist on the inside with a nice crunched on the outside. It went well with the freshness of the green salad and small cherry tomatoes matched well with a delicate salad dressing of vinaigrette. And perfect with our French white wine.
Next came our grilled chicken thigh caramelised with leek and dark soy on skewers. The meat was nicely grilled and browned. Beautiful flavoured. Meat was moist, not dry. It was tender and packed with flavour. Not overly salty or sweet. Just perfect. And it doesn't need any sauce. A wonderful dish.
Lastly is our rare waghu sushi roll that was sliced into 8 pieces plated on a black slate which was visually stunning on the black table top. The waghu sushi was like any other sushi once dipped into a soy wasabi sauce, I could hardly taste the main ingredient of the sushi. For such an expensive ingredient and an expensive dish, I had to try a couple of the sushi without the wasabi sauce and that was when I could really appreciate the waghu beef in the sushi because it was a delicate piece of meat that should not be competing with the wasabi soy sauce.
I left some room in my stomach so I can try the dessert that I have been eyeing since I saw in the menu - the matcha cream brûlée. A perfect way to end a perfect meal with a perfect service from the dynamic trio of GOMO - Mandee, Tor and Aldrien.
GOMO brings a culinary food scene that has never been seen n Penang. It is right on top of the best new restaurant in Penang. It has exceeded my expectation as this is something new and exciting for Penang.
If you are ever in Penang and looking for a casual fine dining restaurant (after you had enough of Penang street food) and love Japanese food with a modern twist, you have to go to GOMO.
I understand from Aldrien that GOMO also served breakfast. We only had the chance to try the dinner menu. We will definitely be back to try the other dishes and for breakfast and lunch - something different to try in Penang other than the hawker food.
Insight Penang blogs about travel and food, sharing with anyone who enjoys traveling to other destinations, taking photographs, meeting people, experiencing new cultures and traditions, enjoying cooking and trying other cuisines.