Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Guu Izakaya Church: Jessica checks another one off

Saturday was an awesome day indeed, I went to the Toronto production of Billy Elliot, and it was just as heart felt and amazing as the New York production I saw in 2008. After the show, it was like 10:45PM, and we were hunnngry and since we were in the downtown area, and driving down Church Street, I was like…. Omg let's check out Guu! Guu Izakaya is one of a few brand named Izakaya (japanese tapa's) places in Vancouver, and one of the things I miss the most in Toronto.  There's such a concentrated population of Japanese people in Van so it trickles to the van culture,  like sushi on every block, and japadogs, and kumon… 

When we got in, we were informed that the kitchen was doing last call at 11:30 which meant we only had half an hour to order, which doesn’t sound difficult, but I like to order as I go along, so I had to make a decision. And QUICK!  I just started naming all the usuals to the waitress and she was like, WOW you know the whole menu… I was like. Heehee, im from Vancouver, so told me they had just opened up a new Guu @ Bloor and Bathurst… Damn it! Just when I thought I got to check all Guu's off my list, but another Guu to add to my experience!

As I understood, Izakaya's/Tapas are bar type foods to be enjoyed with alcohol (like a super epic glamourous pretzels and nuts) there's a lot of fried dishes, cause I guess  fried goes well with alcohol, and they're generally sharing dishes. To me I love Japanese Izakayas cause of the orginaity, flavour, and presentation packed into a small little dish. There are so many different dishes, and specials, that I'll never be bored, or afraid to try new things.

Each Guu has something unique to offer, both in experience and in the menu.

Guu Original – probably what I imagined being in Japan would be like, its a shoebox of a restaurant,  small open kitchen to the right and a bar all around it, few seats in the front and 2 larger tables with benches in the back next to the washroom. Its small, cramped, dark, and loud, but its a great experience. 
Guu with Garlic – I don’t know what you call it, but you can take off your shoes and sit into the floor like traditional japanese style eating, there's a small patio area on the side for the summer, its a little more brighter at this one, delicious!
Guu Aberdeen – its in richmond. Its in a mall? I dunno what it has to offer. Haha. Its a bit larger than the first 2 Guus, people seem to think the quality goes down when things hit Richmond, I thought it was decent!  
Guu with Otokomae – I have no idea what Otokomae is, even after googling it, so I just call this one Guu Gastown, to me, this is one and richmond would be one of the more spacious Guus, it's located in historic Gastown in Vancouver, with fireplaces, and to me, always seems like the more trendier Guu maybe cause of the clientele.
Guu Garden – is a little more "sophisticated" than the other guus, the ladies washroom feature decals on the wall and chandelier type lighting, there is an open patio in the front, it really is like eating in a garden, its open and fresh, 

And now we finally get to the first Guu in Toronto, Guu Church.
Guu Church – this was by far the loudest Guu I have ever been to, probably cause it's just one giant open space, when you go in, you've entered some sort of cafeteria, picnic style, family style eating area where the majority of the seating area are long tables with benches/seats.  I think there could a few more intimate tables on the side, and a long ass bar along open kitchen.  It's decently lighted, which is why I could take pics with no flash, I always love being greeted by the staff, love the service. It was a GUUD TIME.

Although the food wasn’t up to the standard of the Vancouver counterparts that I've become accustomed to… Hey take what I can get… 

eating view

Pumpkin Croquette AKA
"KABOCHA KOROKKE" Deep fried kabocha pumpkin croquette with a boiled egg inside
So this is a staple that I always get in Vancouver, @ Guu Original they usually have stacks of fried balls (heh) ready cause it's a pretty popular little dish.  
This was the first dish that came, and it looked the part, I was taken aback… However.. Something in the mix went a big wrong. 
Where was the pumpkin?? I'm not sure if I just had a deformed ball and they ran out of pumpkin and just decided to roll it around in flour until it formed a decent sized ball… It was more like batter and egg ball. Total disappointment :( especially when I knew what it could be! 

RAMUNE- Japanese Soda
 super yummy!  $.50 of each bottle purchased  goes towards a donation to support Japan.  

Beef Tataki AKA
GYU CARPACCIO" Loghtly seared marbled beef sashimi with wasabi mayo
This dish changes people.  When Chris and I were working in Vancouver, I told him I would take him out for dinner for always helping me/driving me home, as a thank you (chinese people thank via food), he was totally skeptical at first, as he'd always only had italian or "caker" canadian food as he calls it, but was open.  I think I wanted more to shock him by ordering the RAW beef, like, take that white guy! And after one bite, he was sold.  I think while we were in Van, he consumed 4-5 plates of these. I think he still dreams of it… But no longer! I can report that this beef tataki is just as good, maybe even better than the vancouver counterpart, if not better (from my Feb visit to Guu Gastown, the beef tataki was a bit… Meh)

Tuna Tataki AKA
"MAGURO TATAKI" Loghtly seared B.C. albacore tuna sashimi with ponzu sauce and garlic chips
How can you go wrong with BC albacore tuna with ponzu sauce and garlic chips… Mmmm melt in your mouth delicious! Always better when it comes from BC! haha

Beef Short Ribs AKA
"KARUBI" Salt&papper grilled beef short ribs with green onion sauce
Tender, they are what they are. Salt and peppered grilled short ribs. Cant really go wrong, though was not my favourite, as dish after dish was packed with interesting flavour, S&P just doesn’t do that much in this situation.

Ebimayo AKA
"EBIMAYO" Deep fried prawn in crispy batter with spicy mayo
Hmm again another disappointment from what I am used to in Vancouver. From the soggy shrimp, the overly heavy breading, in my opinion, soggy fried breading which cant even make sense but that’s what it was, the mayo wasn’t spicy enough… MEH

Special: Vancouver Uni
Ah uni.  The first time I had uni, I was in my late teens, and was not at an age where I appreciated the fine delicate texture and crescendoing flavour that uni brings to your tastebuds.  I didn't get it.  But then, last year, my food cousin brought me to this authentic japanese restaurant in Stevesten, and I had fresh uni, and it was sooooo amazing.  I can see what little sea otters risk being squewered to get at the delicious mustard yellow center. Sea Otters are foodies too!  I had the choice between Vancouver and Boston sea urchin, obviously everything is better from Vancouver, so I went with the Vancouver uni. Haha. Yet again, the BC grown dish did not disappoint. Haha.

"IKAPIRI" Deep fried calamari with spicy ketchup and wasabi mayo
This was  a first dish for me, usually we go for a grilled calamari with a spicy mayo, which is great, this wasn’t too bad.  The spicy ketchup was great, it was tangy and sweet, with a kick.  Calamari is such a filling food to eat, and the tangyness made me want to keep eating it.  Loved the fried wonton type bowl it was in. 

"KAKI FURAI" Deep fried oyster with 3 kinds sauce
Hmm. This is a new dish I decided to try as I panicked to pick enough food to order… Its.. A lil below MEH. Im an oyster fan, oyster gratin, oyster motoyaki, raw oysters.. These oysters, probably since you couldn’t just grab them out of the sea, like in vancouver, were a bit "fishy", it was nothing to write home about, except that one of their pink tartar like sauces featured boiled eggs… Weird! Yummy!

Grilled Black Cod AKA
"GINDARA" Grilled black cod with SAIKYO miso and white wine sauce
Love black cod, or butter fish, or yummy delicious flaky fatty fish! The flavours were amazing, I coulda licked the plate, this is a staple I get all the time.  My only complaint, which is a big one, is that, I could tell the fish was frozen. It didn't flake off the way I was used to, the texture was a bit mush, there were hints of unfresh "sea" like taste… I mean, what can you do, Toronto is the middle of land and a dirty lake… Sigh. 

Yakiudon AKA
"YAKIUDON" Pan fried udon NOODLE with beef and vegetables
This is always delicious, and to me, the filler starch portion of the meal, to make sure you don’t stop for a burger on your way home.  Delicious with tender (and minimal) slices of seasoned beef, with delicious chewy noodles. 

Ah. And the total. For 2. It's not the cheapest meal, not the most expensive either, prices range from $4-$10 dollars maybe, it can be cheap if you eat 1 or 2 dishes.  It's worth what it is. But im a greedy little pig who loves to stuff her face in deliciousness, so it was alllll worth it :)