Good provenance is in high demand. Everybody wants the backstory of what's on their plate and in their glass. Mass-produced supermarket honey now sports a batch number and a squiggly blue mess on its label that is supposedly the autograph of the 'master blender' behind it. Gourmet honey it is not, but on a bowl of oats and banana in the morning, it does the job. Similarly, the website for Goros contains a lengthy backstory of the 'owner's' life.— a ten-minute long read.
The problem with good provenance is that you can't fake it. With an owner that hails from Tokyo's Golden Gai, Goros promises a kitsch Japanese dive bar replete with yakitori, sake and vintage vinyl. As a concept, it's great. In reality, the space is a work in progress that, if you look twice, has some unflattering, visible roots. We walk in looking for Goro, wondering if he's the guy underneath the shaggy white hair leaning over vinyl on the decks. He looks up and it turns out he's caucasian.
Goro isn't at the bar either (if you haven't cottoned on yet, he doesn't exist), but the staff that are there are more than obliging and will helpfully guide you through the sake menu (each sake is described and numbered so you don't have to try and get your tongue around 'Dewazakura Dewa Sansan') as well as guide you through the best of the menu — which is pretty much anything with chicken in it.
Naturally, this includes Goros karaage. The thick, gnarly, deep bronze skin with its secret coating of spicy sprinklings is an excellent contrast to the juicy bird inside. The wasabi mayo it's served with is welcome but shies in flavour by comparison. The chicken skewers in the daily special of yakitori buns are the perfect combo of fatty meat with lacy blackened edges. They're meant to be stuffed into the buns with an accompanying slaw but we eat them on their own as unfortunately, the buns are fresh-from-the-fridge-cold.
The non-chicken dishes we try prove the point. Pork ribs with chilli and mandarin are soft and sticky but fail to deliver on both citrus and heat. Crab sandwiches with wakame and tobiko (flying fish roe) sound great on paper but are a little handicapped by the excessive weight of a fried sweet bun.
As we leave, we notice that most of the crowd are office workers who've come in after an unfairly late Friday finish. No doubt they roll in here for the same reason we like that faux boutique honey — when you need some good chicken and a drink, Goros does the job.