Meet the small but mighty Gohan.
While most speakeasies across Dubai are well-kept secrets, a new one in town feels too good to be kept under wraps. Meet Gohan, a Japanese speakeasy by the team at La Cantine du Faubourg. Offering an intimate dining experience that neighbours the original venue, the concept welcomes guests from Boulevard at Jumeirah Emirates Towers during the day, but come nighttime? Gohan is accessible only through an unassuming door between the wine fridges in La Cantine.
Small in size but impressive in character, the chic speakeasy is a celebration of authentic and conventional Japanese dining rooms. What this translates to is the use of traditional materials and joinery, thereby creating a palette of warm, rich textures and tones throughout the interior. And because lighting in key is setting the tone at any speakeasy, it shifts from day to night in order to reflect the clientele’s change of energy and attitude. Like the venue itself, the name ‘Gohan’ has humble and affectionate connotations; it translates to “meal of any sort” and is often used colloquially to refer to any cooked rice dish. Gohan is personal, traditional, intimate. Bonus: it’s open late – we’re talking 2am on weekends.
Here, the food concept is a take on elegant street food, so you can expect to dine on a deliberately refined menu of skewers, sushi and gyoza, all of which are rooted in the highest quality ingredients and unexpected elements like caviar and foie gras. Central to the brand image and narrative is the set of bespoke artworks that adorn the menus, a recreation of Sugoroku picture-based playing cards. For the uninitiated, Sugoroku is a centuries-old board games that often depicted Kabuki theatre actors playing the roles of famous samurai legends and other folklore heroes, and these ancient compositions were adopted and updated with the Gohan palette of colours and patterns to add a sense of place alongside minimal, modern-day Japanese graphic design and typography. Can you keep this secret?