Finding GOGA might prove challenging for some, and once diners have sampled the fare at the new Saratoga restaurant, they may feel as though they’ve been transported to Shanghai.
GOGA recently opened at the former location of Indo Café, in back of the UPS Store, which is next to Saratoga Eyes, at the east end of the Village.
Chef/owner Brad Turley first opened GOGA in Shanghai, where he was living with wife Helen Li after stints in Hawaii, New York City and Vietnam. Like the current incarnation, GOGA (short for Golden Gate) in Shanghai was tiny, intimate and quickly became the “it” place that attracted fellow chefs, as well as American expats and locals.
The couple were back in California for what they thought was a temporary stay when the pandemic hit. Three years later, they have re-created much of the menu and vibe that attracted their original loyal following back in China.
The couple now lives in Los Gatos, and Turley’s nephew, Tristan, works with him in the open kitchen. Another nephew, Luke, also helps out when not at college. Li says that finding really good help in Shanghai was far easier than finding any help at all here. “This is why we are a family business,” she adds.
The restaurant is open for brunch on weekends, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., with a menu that covers the usual suspects like loco moco, cinnamon French toast and perfectly plump eggs Benedict (get it with crab cakes, if available), avocado sourdough toast, breakfast taco, plus a wagyu burger.
Specials frequently change: We enjoyed lobster roll with cilantro and sriracha and crispy Dungeness crab cakes with chile sesame butter. The tuna sashimi and wasabi potato salad was a huge hit, with crunchy cabbage and perfect touch of wasabi.
Dinner, served Thursday through Sunday, 5:30-8:30 p.m., offers a choice of a chef-driven tasting menu, with wine pairings available, or you can order from the counter/bar menu. The tasting menu might feature crab-crusted salmon with chipotle cream corn or kobe steak with green peppercorn Dijon sauce served with duck fat truffle croquette and parm fries.
The counter menu currently offers stone fruit salad with goat cheese, Hawaiian-style ahi poke, crab and shrimp Louie salad, and seared Hokkaido scallops on charred tomatillo yuzu salsa verde with corn crisps and cilantro. There’s a fish of the day, plus the American wagyu steak with seasonal greens as well as the wagyu burger.
While Turley happens to share a last name with a famous female California winemaker, he’s not a relation. Nevertheless, the restaurant serves a respectable selection of wine in Turley glasses. No Turley wines, but the list does include Taittinger Brut Champagne and Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs.
GOGA, 14443 Big Basin Way Unit C, Saratoga. 408-656-8315.