Spam replaces shawarma at new Park Bar restaurant

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

Is Detroit ready for Spam?

I don’t mean dubious email proposals from Nigerian princes, I’m talking about the canned, processed meat product from Hormel. It’s the star of the menu at GoGo’s, a new Hawaiian-inspired restaurant that opened for a just few hours over the weekend inside Detroit’s Park Bar at 2040 Park.

You may remember the furor four months ago when word spread that Park Bar owner Jerry Belanger would not renew the lease of Bucharest Grill. The popular restaurant, known for its garlic-heavy chicken shawarma sandwiches, had rented the Park Bar’s kitchen since 2006.

According to Belanger, the crowds Bucharest was drawing weren’t helping bar sales, which is surprising, but everyone who wants a falafel sandwich doesn’t necessarily want to have a cocktail with it.

Bucharest packed up and opened a new location on Jefferson in Rivertown just weeks later. This spot joins their other two restaurants in Corktown and another in Milwaukee Junction.

In its place is GoGo’s, serving “local Hawaiian” food. In Hawaii, folks dig Spam, but it is very rare to see it on menus around here. GoGo’s serves the fatty treat as musubi, a piece of fried Spam and egg that is prepared sushi style like the Japanese omelet, tamagoyaki, on top of a block of rice. It’s held together with a piece of seaweed wrap (nori).

Spam is also in one of two types of chili offered on the Holo Dog, which comes with your choice of soy dog, Hebrew dog, Asian brat or pork sausage. Besides the Spam chili, other toppers include a shiitake miso chili, sweet sesame mustard, spicy mayo, pineapple jalapeno and pickle. The holo dog comes in an inclosed onion and poppy seed bun.

Another Hawaiian favorite at GoGo’s is called plate lunch. It’s a usually chicken or beef served with two scoops of white rice and macaroni salad. The carb-heavy meal is as common in Hawaii as ordering a coney dog is here in Detroit, and along with Spam, it’s something that’s not commonplace in Metro Detroit.

Fortunately for those on carb-watch, GoGo’s offers a green salad with a creamy tofu miso dressing in place of the macaroni. Plate lunches offered include shoyu chicken, garlic butter shrimp, Loco Moco (a burger with brown gravy and a fried egg), beef teriyaki and a veggie plate with steamed broccoli with peanut sauce and scallions.

The restaurant is run by Park Bar owner Belanger. He’s enlisted head chef Adam Verville, a former sous chef at Gold Cash Gold and ex-head chef at St. CeCe’s Food and Spirits.

GoGo’s food can be ordered at the counter to-go, or order at the Park Bar and eat there. The restaurant was open Friday and Sunday as a test. An official opening date hasn’t been announced yet, so hours may be sporadic. Keep an eye on for updates.

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