Thursday, July 30, 2015

Go To Goto - Bar Goto, That Is

Ahhh, July. Summer vacation. I always looked forward to July with great joy; it meant school was coming to a close (I kinda didn't like school), and that the next two months would be all about enjoying summer vacation with my friends. Of course, now that I'm older and allegedly wiser, there are many months I like much more than July and August - you know, it's not the heat, it's the humidity. Whatever. All I know is that I haven't posted in over a month - I guess I was reliving those great old summer vacation days. And then, all of a sudden, it hit me - I'd been to a half-dozen or so new places, or at least places we hadn't been before, and hadn't muttered a word. Time to get back to school. work. okay - blogging.

Let's start with drinking. A few nights ago, Significant Eater and I, along with a couple of friends, were some of the first (post f&f) customers at Kenta Goto's brand new Bar Goto, in the Eldridge Street heights (okay, upper Eldridge - you know, the block between Houston and Stanton streets). Kenta and his hired hands have transformed a space that was formerly a restaurant, into a serene, lovely drinking spot. With some tasty bar food as well. Have a look at the interior, in a shot provided by Bar Goto...
Bar Goto (provided by Bar Goto)
I originally met Kenta when he working at NYC's Pegu Club (he was the first bartender to ever make me a Jasmine), where his zen-like approach to bartending, and his perfect rapport with customers, assured him of always having an audience. Now, like many others who mastered their trade behind Pegu's stick, he's an owner himself.

I don't want to say that we drank a lot. But, we drank a lot. Why? Well, because there was so much to try...
Bar Goto's Cocktail Menu
One of the things I like about Kenta's drinks are that they are not as "spiritous" as many cocktails can be. Of course, there are those who think the only reason to drink a cocktail is for the ethanol, and that's what makes the world go 'round. But take the Sakura Martini, which is a sake-based Martini, enhanced slightly by the funk of Maraschino liqueur. A great drink, smooth as silk, garnished with a dried Japanese cherry blossom...
Sakura Martini
You can have more than one of these - and still be walking. As I mentioned, there's food; Japanese snacky stuff, to help soak up some of the booze. We tried the excellent house-cured pickles with yuzu pepper paste, and 2 of the 5 varieties of okonomi yaki on offer; I particularly liked the Fisherman's, filled with rock shrimp, squid, and octopus, while Significant Eater and friends enjoyed the Herbivore even more. I'm far from an expert on Japanese food, and even less of an okonomi yaki one, but these seemed to be a great match for the cocktails on offer.

As the night's final drink, I figured I'd try something totally out of my wheelhouse - the Improved Shochu Cocktail, a blend of barley shochu, aged gin, and hop liqueur; in other words, it's a shochu cocktail that's been improved! Quite tasty, if I recall correctly...
Improved Shochu Cocktail
What if you're not a fan of these mostly clear-spirited drinks? What if you like bourbon? Rye? Scotch? Well, have no fear - the bartenders here will mix you anything you desire, and mix it well. Or you can have a Kanpai! - a shot and a beer. Because as Kenta and other great bartenders learned a long time ago, the customer gets what the customer wants. I'm already planning our return trip; there are more cocktails to try, more food to sample. And the graciousness of one on New York City's newest hosts to make sure your evening is a great one.

Bar Goto - 245 Eldridge Street, NYC
(212) 475-4411

P.S. - I have a feeling we were comped a drink or two, but who the hell remembers?