3105 Oak Valley Dr.
Ann Arbor, MI 48103
Hours: Mon-Thu: 11:30am–10pm; Fri: 11:30am–11pm; Saturday: Noon–11pm; Sunday: Noon–10pm
“They have eel! Mackerel! Salmon!” my son, 11, exclaimed. He was reading the sushi menu at Godaiko, a Japanese restaurant located just south of the intersection of I-94 and Ann Arbor-Saline Road.
While Godaiko has been open for years, I have never eaten there. Simply put, I do not know much about sushi. My son, daughter, 7, and I were relying on my husband to guide us. He frequents Godaiko during lunch and assured us that the sleek-looking restaurant was amenable to families.
Upscale with a family feel
Indeed, on the Wednesday night we visited, there were many families seated around us. Godaiko boasts a bar, tables and booths, and a sushi bar, all in blonde wood with clean lines. The upscale ambiance is tempered by cheery pop music.
As we glanced at the menu, we received warm towels to clean our hands. “I could put this in my boot,” my son suggested, but thankfully refrained. There were numerous sushi choices as well as other Japanese dishes from which to choose. We started with the Calamari Tatsuta ($11) after ensuring that the spicy dressing was on the side. My son was drawn to the Kobe cheeseburger, a half-pound of Kobe beef, with Sumo fries ($10). It was part of the “Comfort Food” section of the menu, which offered non-Japanese items like jumbo wings. There is no kids’ menu at Godaiko, so we hesitated when ordering for our seven-year-old. She likes noodles, so we settled on Udon with shrimp tempura ($9).
I let my husband choose our sushi rolls. He picked the Spider ($11) with crunchy soft shell crab, avocado and crab sauce; the California ($6.95) with crab, avocado and cucumber; and the Godaiko ($15.75), which was crab and avocado wrapped with tuna, salmon and whitefish.
Pleasant memories and new flavors
The pace at Godaiko is relaxed: from the towels, to ordering to drinks, to ordering dinner, there was no emphasis on rushing. This is something to keep in mind if you are in a hurry or have squirming children.
Our appetizer, the Calamari Tatsuta, was delicious. The squid was lightly breaded and fried, served on a heaping bed of romaine. The spicy dressing was tangy versus hot. We would regret eating so much of it later when we ran out of room for our entrees.
The Udon was a gigantic bowl of thick wheat noodles swimming in broth with fresh carrots, mushrooms, and tofu. The bowl was bigger than my daughter’s head, plus she got a plate of shrimp tempura. She liked the chewy, soft noodles, especially once we got her a fork. We took over half her portion home. I saw a mother and son next to us split the Udon. I’ll remember that for next time.
The Kobe cheeseburger arrived with a surprise: bacon. This made my son happy to no end. He polished off half of the sizeable burger before surrendering.
“I would actually eat this stuff if it was cooked,” he observed of our sushi rolls. “Don’t put that in there,” he motioned to my notebook where I scribbled.
My husband and I lingered over our sushi. I preferred the Godaiko with its delicate fish flavors. The Spider tasted terrific and looked artful with long spider legs of crunchy crab spreading from each piece. The California was flavorful and somewhat creamy. Like our kids, we could finish only half.
Thus, it was a large bag of leftovers we carted home from Godaiko, along with pleasant memories of a new experience and flavors.
THE SHORT COURSE
To avoid wait: Try earlier than 7 on Fridays & Saturdays or go during the week
Noise level: Moderate to high, depending on the crowd
Bathroom amenities: Changing table in the Women’s restroom, but not the Men’s
High chairs? Yes
Got milk? No. Lemonade and pop
Kids’ menu? No
Anything healthy for kids? Yes. There are many vegetable dishes offered. Also, pick sushi rolls without fried ingredients or mayo-based sauces.
Food allergy concerns? Seafood is plentiful. They do not cook with peanut oil, instead using sesame and vegetable oil. As always, talk with your server or call ahead with concerns.