“Now let’s go for sushi!” These are the words I heard leaving a friend’s party at an inexpensive diner, where the buffet table groaned over with calorie-centric, deli-style delights that few of the svelte Manhattan-ites at the party would dare eat.
Sushi is big right now in virtually every city in America. Why sushi? It’s light, fun to eat, usually low in calories, and good for you. One of the newest Sushi restaurants in the Napa Valley is Go Fish, a creation of Cindy Pawlcyn of Napa’s Mustard’s Grill that opened in 1983. If you’ve been to Mustard’s Grill, you know Pawlcyn is all about ultra-fresh ingredients and exploring global cuisine.
At Go Fish, Pawlcyn has turned over her toque to Executive Chef, Victor Scargle, and Sushi Chef, Ken Tominaga. Scargle had cooked for Michael Mina at Agua, and was named one of the San Francisco Chronicle’s rising young chefs. Tominga is a sushi master, recognized as one of the best sushi chefs in Northern California.
Go Fish has a gorgeous interior with big picture windows that look out over Highway 29 and the vineyards beyond. The bright white walls and very modern looking sushi bar give the place an airy, relaxed feel. You feel good stepping inside.
Though sushi is a high priority here, the menu also offers a raw bar, sandwiches, entrees (in addition to fish, you can find pasta, chicken, and New York steak), and plenty of unique fish dishes.
For starters, a friend and I shared The Louie – a shrimp and crab salad with iceberg lettuce, cucumber, olives, caper berries, avocado, and hard-boiled eggs. This is a traditional salad, served here with ultra-fresh seafood ($29).
I enjoyed my order of Whole Black Bass, served with wild rice and caramelized onion sherry jus ($29), but I couldn’t take my eyes — or my fork — off my friend’s plate of Black Cod with Alaska miso marinade in a shitake broth ($26). It was impossibly delicious and highly addictive.
When questioned about what fish dish is best, the waiter did say this was a personal favorite. Though I believed him, I was thinking the dish would be like the nearly caramelized and very sweet miso-marinated cod they serve at Nobu in Manhattan. Happily, this was not the case. The dish was only subtly infused with the sweet miso marinade and so good I can still remember it weeks later. We also enjoyed the Whole Leaf Lettuce salad with avocado and pistachios in a cranberry vinaigrette ($8).
I didn’t sample the sushi, but from what I saw on tables near us, it looked quite fresh and was served in a very attractive manner. Sashimi runs from $10-30 and the sushi runs from $5-20. The wine list features beer and various kinds of sake, including a sparkling sake that looked interesting. Kudos to whoever created the wine list – you will find many, many half-bottles so you can explore different varietals and wineries.
Overall, what is most impressive about this restaurant is the freshness of the raw bar, sushi, and fish, the creativity of the way the dishes are plated, and the fact that this restaurant is opened continuously from lunch to dinner. In Napa, this is a good thing since you never know when you want to break for lunch while wine tasting. We arrived promptly at five and found the restaurant already half full with diners. Many of the guests looked like locals catching up with a friend over drinks and sushi. If the locals like it, you will too.
641 Main Street
St. Helena, California