Restaurant review: Tokyo GoGo

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From the January 3, 2013 edition

Here’s an area dining trend that was begging to happen and I hope never ends: good food trucks hooking-up with good-timing taverns. One of the newest examples of this smart, symbiotic coupling is an eating and drinking marriage made in a veritable local-sourcing heaven — the stylish Brothers Drake Meadery & Bar wed to the terrific Tokyo GoGo.

Similar to other successful relationships, the two take breaks from each other. But if you’re around High and Fifth Wednesdays through Saturdays (after 5 p.m.), you can enjoy their harmonizing verve and hospitality.

If it’s snarl-producing weather out, all the better. See, you can bypass struggling through the cold in favor of placing your food order inside of Drake’s handsome, live music stage-equipped, polished wood-flaunting and tasteful tunes-playing artsy garage space. While you suck back one of Drake’s potent and uncommon cocktails ($5-$12) — or a brewed-in-Ohio beer ($4-$6) — your uncommonly delicious, scratch-made GoGo goodies will be promptly brought to you.

What can you expect from GoGo’s little, Tokyo bar bites-style menu? How about cheap prices for a flavor-and-texture-fest of these crispy and irresistible fried things, excellent soups, seaweed salads and other nifty snacks?

Korokke ($4): Addictive little crunchy, panko-crusted croquettes packing gooey-tastic loads of mashed potato and molten cheese; exterior striations of mayo and a tangy, ketchup-y sauce gild the lilies.

Karaage ($6): Craggily battered nuggets (kinda nutty, a bit oily) of meaty, dense and juicy chicken thigh with a neat aromatic edge and two mead-spiked sauces — I especially enjoyed dipping the wonderful clumps into GoGo/Drake’s gojuchang-like condiment.

Agedashi Tofu ($5): A gingery and delightful mushroom broth/gravy/sauce forms the base for two hulking blocks of creamy tofu given a lightly fried crust enlivened with scallion bits. The result is nothing less than (oxymoron alert!) “comforting bean curd.”

Tempura Vegetables ($6): A smattering of puffily battered vegetables like broccoli, onion and tubers served with grated daikon and a sweet and salty soy dipping sauce.

Gyoza Dumplings ($5): Light and transcendent, crisped-up Japanese mezzaluna ravioli with crackly and frilly edges and toothsome pockets filled with either super-juicy pork meatballs or creamy and diced veggies punctuated by aggressive bites of ginger (hint: you can get them “half and half”).

Miso Soup ($3): Far better and more dynamic than the usual afterthought (even though it wasn’t served piping hot), this “country style” version had a spicy little kick plus extra body and interest from chopped vegetables, primarily cabbage.

Japanese Noodle Soup ($8): A huge mass of nori, scallion curls and grilled scallions plus tempura flakes graced the top of a large and attractive bowl of noodles (wispy soba or big and thick udon) afloat in a light and lively, veggie-ful broth.

Green Seaweed Salad ($4): The usual chilled, mucilaginous tendrils tossed in sesame oil, but with a hint of spice.

Hijiki Salad ($4): A sweet and veggie-laced cold preparation starring inky black seaweed with a mackerel-like fishy kick to it.

Inari ($2): Dense and plump mini-pillows of sweet soy-sauced tofu skin wrapped around vinegary bundles of sushi rice, these can effectively function as sweet/tart palate cleansers.