To me, the word “tapas” used to invoke an image of overpriced stuffed olives to be doused in a glass of sangria.
The traditional Spanish small plates come in many variants: stuffed mussels, fried potatoes and battered squid (which was likely the most highly enjoyed in Holland after last year’s World Cup).
But my notion changed on Tuesday, with a dinnertime visit to in Cupertino, where tapas and tofu blend together.
Food at Gochi, at 19980 Homestead Rd., remains on small plates but differs from traditional “tapas.” Highlights include a spring mix with garlic soy dressing, seared albacore drizzled with garlic oil, and cold tofu dotted with ginger and scallions. There is also squid, but it is fermented or boiled in “ponzu” sauce, comprised of citrus, wine-vinegar and seaweed.
Japanese food, while not my first thought, lends itself to tapas. Like its Spanish variant, it includes a lot of seafood, usually comes in small portions, and uses fresh ingredients, especially here in California.
The tapas at Gochi ranged from items you would find at any local Japanese restaurant, such as yellowtail sashimi, to true fushion fare—a thin-crust “Miso pizza” with a tofu topping. I tried the latter, which was large enough to be a meal on its own and had a strong yet not overpowering flavor.
My next dish was the tasty Yaki Udon, stir-fried noodles and vegetables, where shitaki mushroom shreds are wrapped around the noodles. The prices were a nice touch as well, with most dishes under $10 for a hearty portion.
For those short on time, be warned that the wait to eat at Gochi Fushion Tapas easily exceeds an hour, even on weekdays. It was a surprise for a place tucked into a quaint corner of de Anza Avenue, in the generic-looking Oakmont Square.
I arrived at the restaurant with a friend around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, and we were told there was a table available for us—by 8 p.m. that is. While waiting, we observed a full-house of customers sprawled out on floor cushions, eagerly digging into their food with chopsticks. The food—assuming they shared the same sentiments as my friend and I had—must have tasted even better after the wait.
Moral of the story: superb, untraditional food, but not for the reservation-less or impatient.