Gokudo, a two-in-one Japanese restaurant and bar is slated to open downtown on Cathcart Street next month. It comes from Yann Levy, the principal behind other nearby venues like Biiru and most recently, poke spot Koa Lua.
Levy explains that the space at 630 Cathcart (a former jewelry store) will be split in two — the front will resemble a traditional Kyoto machiya house with lattices, and a woody feel. It’ll serve food (it’s billed as a “fish shack and chirashi counter”), including chirashi rice bowls (an area of expertise, given Levy’s experience with similar Hawaiian style poke at Koa Lua). Levy names camembert cheesecake with miso as one other offering on the otherwise to-be-announced menu.
The front section is set to get a different name, but go to the back of the space, and tucked behind a curtain, is the bar, Gokudo.
Japanese-style cocktails are the primary offering, which Levy points out are more toned down than the standard at other cocktail bars.
“We have more stirred cocktails than shaken, a pretty well balanced menu — it’s super different to something like tiki...there’s not billions of ingredients in them, it’s the execution that makes it balanced and refined. We’re far from the super sweet drinks.”
There’ll be more dark liquors, especially on the stirred side of the menu — think Old Fashioned-adjacent mixes, and whisky. Prices will run from around $12 to $16.
Levy says to expect a markedly different vibe between the yet-to-be-named front section and Gokudo — it’ll also be a big change from Levy’s nearby izakaya, Biiru.
“Biiru is more naive and cartoonish, this is more serious - there’s not going to be any Hello Kitty.”
The back is inspired by retro, 50s and 60s imagery of the Japanese underworld, particularly the Yakuza. The formal but den-like atmosphere will be rounded out by bartenders in bowties and white jackets.
Expect Gokudo to open up in the coming weeks — Levy suggests the week after Grand Prix (June 12 onwards).