Recently in my Belly...

● ...Recently in my Belly... ●

Contact Me

For inquiries, suggestions, comments, or anything else:

Saturday, September 3, 2011

[Toronto] Guu Izakaya

Location Review:
398 Church Street
Toronto, Ontario
(Major Intersection: Church St. and Gerrard St. E)

Guu originated from our friends on the West coast of Canada, in British Columbia. With their bountiful fresh fish and lively atmosphere, they were able to create an izakaya so popular, that there are now two locations in Toronto. The name of the restaurant is supposed to resemble the sounds of a rumbling stomach, which is definitely how I recommend you should feel going into Guu. I've actually been here a couple times now, but never actually got around to posting up a review. After multiple visits, I've come to gather a lot of pictures, so hopefully you can bear through this visually long long post!

After probably a one our line-up (this place doesn't take reservations), you will enter the small, dimly lit Guu restaurant, and be greeted by the entire house of servers yelling at you. Really. It's not a shocking terrifying yell, but a rather warm friendly one. Presumably they are saying "welcome" in Japanese. Likewise, when you leave, or order a birthday dessert (which is actually what we did for our birthday boy), the entire wait-staff and kitchen crew will not hesitate to serenade you with their cheers and song. It gets pretty rowdy in this small restaurant, but it makes the meal so much more fun and enjoyable!

"Hotate Carpaccio" ($6.80)–hokkaido scallop sashimi with wasabi dressing 

"Guu Carpaccio" ($6.50)–seared beef sashimi with ponzu wasabi, mayo & garlic chips

Right: "Maguro Tataki" ($6.80)–seared bc tuna sashimi with ponzu & garlic chips
Left: "Salmon Tataki" ($6.80)–seared BC salmon sashimi with ponzu wasabi mayo & garlic chips
 Both the Carpaccio and Tataki dishes are definite recommendations from me if you are a fan of eating raw sashimi. They're both served in thin and small slices, which helps take in more flavour from the garlic, wasabi and ponzu sauce. A really delicate and delicious dish!

 "Gindara" ($9.80)–grilled black cod with saikyo miso & white wine sauce
The black cod here is nothing short of amazing. It is cooked very well, with the meat having the perfect balance of raw and cooked textures. Not over cooked so that its flakey, but not too raw that its slimey. On one rare occasion that I came, the meat was overcooked and not well thawed. But in general, really good.

"Buta Kimchi Bibibap" ($8.80) –rice, ground pork, kimchi, seasonsed vegetables, and egg in sizzling stone bowl

"Brie Cheese" ($6.80)–deep fried brie cheese with mango & strawberry sauce
I love brie cheese. So seeing this on the menu, I just had to order it. In concept, it seemed like something that should be served at the CNE along side deep fried butter, and deep fried Oreos. In reality, I find it is a much superior item. First off, it isn't too heavily battered like the CNE foods. Somehow Guu is able to use a light batter and fry it nice and crispy. Secondly, the cheese isn't completely melted inside. This gives you a nice combination of melty and solid cheese.

"Unagi Doria" ($9.30)–bbq water eel on mixed mushrooms, rice with cheese on top
I've had eel rice on many occasions, but cheese on top? That changes everything. As yummy as this was, be forewarned: this is a really savory dish. The eel is heavily (but deliciously) marinated, and in conjunction to the melted cheese it was almost borderline to be "too much" for me.

"Takoyaki" ($5.00)–deep fried octopus balls with tonkatsu sauce & karashi mayo
Takoyaki being a more prevalent Japanese snack in Toronto, I didn't find this dish too outstanding. For one, it didn't have the novelty factor to it. On top of that, I found it wasn't deep fried crispy enough. However, the octopus piece on the inside was a sizable portion, and I guess that makes up for something.

"Takowasabi" ($3.80)–marinated octopus w/ wasabi stem
Don't be tricked by the picture in terms of size, because it literally comes in a portion smaller than two Oreo cookies. However, it in no way means its short on taste. The wasabi stem marinate is pretty intense, and will definitely get the nasal passages going. Along with the chewy octopus and crispy seaweed wrap, this is easily one of my favourites at Guu.

 Shrimp Sashimi (17)
This item isn't actually on the regular menu, but instead another daily specials one. I've always loved eating shrimp sashimi, but at Guu it's unique in that the shrimp head is deep fried and served almost like another dish. Surprisingly the shrimp's head had a lot of flavour and was delicious with the dipping sauce. This dish is rather expensive, but I find its worth a try at least once if you're a fan of shrimp sashimi.

"Salmon Natto Yukke" ($8.80) –chopped salmon sashimi with seven friends (natto, shibazuke, takuan, wonton chips, garlic chips, scallion & raw egg yolk)

When the server brings you the dish, it looks like how it's shown in the picture -all ingredients separated. When you actually eat it, everything is mixed together and you eat it with seaweed. I know a lot of people are turned off by this dish from the slimy raw egg yolk, but I actually quite enjoyed this. Taste-wise, it is quite clean without too much marinate. Because of that, you can really taste the ingredients like the freshness of the cucumber, and the fattiness of the salmon. I love seaweed wrap that they give you, so crunchy and tasty!

"Kinoko bibimbap" ($8.80)–rice, mushrooms & cheese with sizzling stone bowl

"Karaage" ($6.80)–deep fried soy sauce marinated chicken served with garlic mayo
Usually fried chicken doesen't appeal to me that much, but this one was absolutely delicious! Probably some of the best fried chicken I've had. The meat inside is super juicy, and deep fried light and crispy.

"Kakimato" ($7.20)–baked BC oyster wi mushroom, spinach & garlic mayo topped with cheese
I love eating oysters, but was definitely not a big fan of this one served here. The seemingly big oyster shell was stuffed with mostly mushrooms, cheese, and very salty sauce. Thought I'm sure its there, I don't think I actually got a piece of oyster.

"Tempura Ice Cream" ($4.80)
No meal is complete without dessert, and tempura ice cream is the best way to do it. I really wonder how they deepfry the ice cream without it melting on the inside? We ordered this with green tea ice cream, but they also have it in sesame and coconut flavours.

Sake Bomb : Sapporo beer + Sake 

This one last picture I wanted to post is in a way to show that people also come to Guu for the drinks as much as they do for food. They have a very extensive menu of cocktails (mostly with sake) and of course Japanese Beers. The Sake Bomb isn't exactly something you can order from the menu, but I wanted to include this because it was pretty interesting. Essentially you place a cup full of sake over 2 chopsticks, and repeatedly bang on the table. The chopsticks will move apart, and once it falls you have to chug it, or else the beer will overflow. Because its hard to tell when it will fall, it has a big element of surprise to it, and when you have enough people doing it together, it's almost like a game. Pretty fun!

Guu Izakaya on Urbanspoon