Restaurant Review: Bibimbap or Bust at GoSu
Well-priced, straightforward Korean comfort fare is what to expect at this relative newcomer in Irvington.
Ika yaki, or broiled, marinated squid with teriyaki glaze, is one of many small plates at Irvington’s GoSu.
Photos by Ken Gabrielsen
How or why restaurateurs choose the names of their establishments is frequently puzzling, often obvious to only themselves. The Korean-to-English translation of the word gogi is “meat,” and gook su is “noodle.” Ergo, GoSu is the name of a sleek, slightly out-of-the-way Korean-fusion spot in Irvington. Combinations of meat, noodles, rice, and vegetables pretty much sum up the basis of its menu.
Owner Tony Kim
The two-year-old eatery’s cuisine is described by its owner as “family-friendly, tasty, healthy, Asian comfort food.” It aspires to be your “every-day restaurant, moderately priced and family-oriented.” It does a decent job of fulfilling its culinary mission.
Bibimbap is the ultimate Korean comfort food. Every restaurant and household has its own proprietary version. For those who have never had the experience, it is essentially steamed rice topped with whatever concoction the cook comes up with. Raw, cooked, or pickled vegetables and meat are topped with a raw yolk, fried, or softly boiled egg. The diner then seasons it with spicy gochujang chili paste, soy sauce, and fermented doenjang (soybean paste) to taste and mixes the whole hot melange together. It is kind of like personal fried rice in a bowl. The restaurant offers a serviceable rendition, with a choice of beef, spicy pork, chicken, or tofu.
The menu also lists a number of preparations called “sizzle bop,” which, though similar-sounding, are very different. Beef, pork, chicken, and the lone finned menu representative, salmon, are marinated, cooked, and served with a large dome of steamed rice, bright-green broccoli florets, and oblique-cut carrots. Galbi, tender, rich, marinated short rib, was the group’s favorite option. With a moniker like “sizzle,” you might expect the protein to arrive sizzling, which it does not. Although the tofu steak is listed as a “Large Plate,” it is similar in preparation and an excellent choice.
Bulgogi, another classic preparation in Korean cooking, literally means “fire meat.” GoSu’s is thinly shaved rib-eye marinated with a number of familiar Asian ingredients, including purée of pear, which helps tenderize the meat. It is then grilled or wok-charred until caramelized and tender. It turns up often on GoSu’s menu as an ingredient or garnish in the GoSu bulgogi taco, sizzle bop, ramen, udon, soba, and bibimbap. GoSu’s version serves more as a supporting foil than an assertive star.
The interior of GoSu is basic but bright
All three of the Japanese-inspired fried chicken dishes that we tasted were excellently prepared, crisp, and greaseless. Bite-size morsels of tatsutage with a mild dipping sauce, tempura fingers, and katsu cutlet with barbecue-style tonkatsu and stripes of chipotle mayo, were all extremely tender and tasty. Make sure to sample them all.
The noodle dishes we tried were mostly well prepared, with fresh ingredients. The broth of the generously portioned “spicy” miso ramen was not overly fiery. The stir-fried yaki udon was nicely seasoned, silky, and satisfying. The only letdown was a gluten-free version of spicy soba, which was reportedly served on a “bed of mixed veggies.” Chopped romaine, cucumbers, and a scattering of scallions were the only green candidates on the ballot.
Marinated sliced rib-eye is in the bulgogi tacos
The large selection of small plates we sampled were all well executed. They include very fresh soft tofu topped with spicy vinaigrette; asparagus-, scallion-, and beef-wrapped negamaki; broiled, sliced, tender teriyaki squid; and shrimp or pork shumai. The aforementioned fusion-inspired bulgogi taco is extremely popular and rightly so.
The lunch specials are worthwhile deals. They are essentially the same size portions as their regular counterparts, at a reduced price. The kid’s meal menu is an excellent option, economically catering to families with young diners, and a happy-hour menu offers more bargains for early diners.
Tatsutage or bite-sized deep-fried chicken
The bar at GoSu offers both soju, Korea’s national drink, and its cloudier cousin, nigori sake. Both are excellent and pack a punch. There is a choice of domestic and imported beers, including Cass from Korea’s most popular brewery.
Surprisingly, GoSu does not offer a dessert menu. Takeout is popular with commuters returning to town at the nearby Metro-North station.
If you are looking for a rendition of Korean and fusion-inspired comfort food, GoSu is a dependable choice.
P. J. Correale is a seasoned veteran with more than four decades in the restaurant industry as an owner and chef.