Osome serves his sushi at home: savvy chef John Gocong and his team benefit from their experience on the road – Food
The Osome Crew: Chef John Gocong (center) with Willie Tan-Ung and Samantha Schofield (Photo by John Anderson)
A fish doesn’t need a bike, of course, but especially not when the Osome crew provide expertly chilled transport in a Subaru Legacy.
The fish we’re talking about – the carefully selected saku blocks of various kinds, accompanied by traditional embellishments and drinks – is what is served by the sushi masters of Osome, an increasingly popular Austin business run by John Gocong, Willie Tan-Ung and Samantha Schofield.
“A lot of times when someone tells you to ‘do something right’ you manipulate them until it’s nice. With sushi, you remove these standards: you touch them less, you cut them less. ” – Chef John Gocong
It’s no secret that eating fresh sushi on the spot in public places has been one of the most missed pleasures of Our Pandemic Times, and having a talented team prepare and serve it for you on your own. house is a way around that. problem. But the concept alone is not entirely responsible for Osome’s ascendancy. It is also this word which circulates. It’s also that the big boss and itamae Gocong have the local experience and know-how to make sure that every event runs (and slices, organizes and pays) successfully.
“I’ve been making sushi for 17 years,” says Gocong. “I am originally from California and have made sushi all over the state. I was one of the lucky people to meet Katsu Hanamure, who was my mentor. He made me realize what a more realistic Japanese setting – to enter this level of food as a career – he introduced me to this at a young age. “
[Note: The eminent Hanamure’s LinkedIn profile begins, “Never Ever settle for compromise.”]
So, an apprenticeship. Kind of like, what’s the current jargon, a Jedi master and his padawan?
Gocong smiles. “I’m not from the type of household where we go to good places to eat,” he said, “and Katsu-san took me through my first two steps, like, ‘We can go to a good restaurant and you can compare all of these sushi chefs to what you’re doing right now, or you can appreciate it for what they do, and you can also watch the food rise from restaurant to restaurant. He’s taken me through all the ups and downs that people would otherwise go through for years, or that you would just spend eating. And a lot of cooks lack that, in general – because a lot of cooks have the kind of money you would need to dine in all these beautiful places. “
In Austin, one of the nicest places to eat sushi – the internationally renowned one – is Tyson Cole’s Uchi. And that’s where Gocong started his local journey.
“Katsu-san told me I needed to go to a new place,” said the 30-something chef. “He told me there was an opportunity at Uchi and Uchiko, and he recommended me for the job. They were sourcing out of state, and they staged me and then me. made an offer. “
Chef Gocong prepares sushi (Photo by John Anderson)
Gocong worked at Uchi and Uchiko for seven years, chef, manager, further honing his skills. After that, “I broke up and started doing other things in the city”. One of those other things was the still-lamented She’s Not Here stronghold of Downtown Island-inspired eclecticism. Another, as COVID began its assault on our daily lives, was its work with Austin Shift Meal. “We had the family meal with Rock & Rolls Sushi at Cedar Park,” notes Gocong. “We delayed meal donations early in the pandemic, making about 7,200 meals in two months.”
Then, taking advantage of the commissary space they had secured at the Hana Global Market, Gocong and his former partner Michael Carranza launched a Hawaiian-inspired restaurant, Salty Cargo, within this Asian grocery store. That concept has now been scrapped – temporarily, insists Chief Willie Tan-Ung – because Osome’s business took off like, well, maybe like a particularly skillful flying fish. Their on-site sushi experiences have appeared in Driftwood and Civil Goat coffee roasters in West Austin; your current reporter enjoyed the Osome fare at the November Fork Cancer fundraiser at the Fair Market; the team recently took over Antone’s floor for three consecutive nights. And of course, there are all those private house bookings. (This in-home sushi experience can be booked online at osomeatx.com.) “Yes,” Gocong says, “we can always use more business, but we’re doing pretty well.”
And this success can be attributed to two things. Fish – “We have people buying for us in Japan, who ship through suppliers like Minimoto or IMP,” Gocong explains. “We also use a handful of other places around the world, like our Big Glory Bay salmon straight from New Zealand, and we get product from Australia.” – and philosophy.
“The sushi chef’s job, traditionally, is to take beautiful things from the ocean and maintain integrity until you can put them on a plate,” says Gocong. “It’s less about changing the product to have something different at the end of it, and it takes time to get good at it. Often times when someone tells you to ‘do something right’ you handle it until it’s nice. With sushi you take away those standards: you touch it less, you cut it less. You move it less. You hang it in a certain direction, then gravity draws the blood down, away from clean flesh. All of these things you have to learn, because that doesn’t have to be common sense. And, when that’s what you bring into someone’s house, that What has to match that premium? What have you got to perfect as well? Recognizing that you are there to deliver the experience – and it shows through hospitality. This effort has to be felt, but not overdone . “
We suspect that with Osome this is pretty much a given.