Goen Yakiniku is a small Japanese restaurant that specializes in traditional yakiniku. Eschewing the current norm of quick AYCE, this spot aims to reintroduce the concept of classic, slower grilling as found in Japan.
It's a comfortable and well-lit space, with many overhanging exhaust fans to take the smoke smell away from your clothing.
One of the more impressive dishes here is the Beef Mixed with Fresh Egg ($9), essentially a seasoned beef tartare. It's an extremely flavourful tartare, with the egg adding a dollop of richness to the dish that I can't get enough of.
Speaking of things that I can't get enough, the Pickles Platter ($6) is surprisingly crave-worthy. Featuring radish, carrots, and cucumber among others, it's a sweeter version of the traditional kimchi dish you'd normally find at Korean places.
The Baked Oyster (seasonal price) is also a great option. Large oysters are baked with cheese, Japanese mayonnaise, and a variety of herbs. It's flavourful and doesn't have the fishy smell you often find in oysters and clams.
Goen takes the quality of its grilled meats very seriously, and before the meal the servers inform you to slather the grill with some lard before turning it on. Many of the dishes even come with a little wooden sign that tell you how long each side needs to be grilled, like the seasoned thick cut Beef Tongue ($14).
The Deluxe Wagyu Beef ($24) is a must-try, nicely cut into little squares, ready for grilling. Make sure to only sprinkle salt and pepper on it, before eating each piece slowly sans dipping sauce. Taking it up a notch are the Deluxe Kobe Beef selections here, which are all seasonally priced. For starters, the Kobe Beef Sashimi, exquisitely presented in a glass cube surrounded by smoke from dry ice, is absolutely divine. Just dip it with a bit of soy sauce to get the delicate yet rich flavours out.
And my absolute favourite here is the Kobe Beef BBQ, which needs to be grilled and also only seasoned with salt and pepper. The perfect combination of marbling and meat is terrific, with no cut being overly fatty or learn. Simply perfect.
For those who prefer a bigger cut of meat, the Ribeye Steak ($14) is an excellent option. Grill it lightly, and then cut them up using the scissors provided, then dip them in some house-made sweet sauce for maximum effect.
The Pork Belly ($8) is a generous seasoned platter served with lettuce leaves that remind me a bit of Korean ssam. Make sure to mix it with some of the house-made yuzu citrus dipping sauce, or the bean paste also provided, to bring the flavours out.
If you feel like a little mixing between meats, try the Hokka Fish ($16) which is imported straight from Japan. The pure flavour of the grilled fish with a squeeze of lime is fantastic, just be careful of the little bones.
The Skirt Steak ($12) is another great option. These pre-seasoned cuts are extremely tender and delicious. I personally prefer to sprinkle a bit of spicy togarashi powder on it, to give it a little kick.
To drink, the SweetGinger Sour ($7) is a nice beverage featuring sushi ginger, vodka, and soda that cools you down while doubling up as a palate cleanser (much like how the ginger in sushi restaurants work). It may not be for everyone, but it's definitely worth a try.