Guu – Tasty and Fun!!!

So it’s 10:30 at night on a Wednesday night.  I spent the evening playing with my new phone and watching the Bruins trounce the Canucks.  My inner Flames fan is satisfied but my stomach feels otherwise.  My sister flew in from a business trip to the Peg and we were trying to decide where to grab a quick bite to eat.  We finally landed on Guu, a Japanese Izakaya place that is always lined up outside the door.  I guess the trick it to go at 10:30 at night since there was no line at this time.

As we enter the staff starts yelling at us in Japanese.  Everyone in the restaurant turns around smiling gauging our reaction which I’m sure is the same as everyone’s when they enter, surprised, speechless and smiling.  “This is going to be a fun experience” was the thought running through my mind.  We put in an order and then my big mug of Sapporo came to the table.  I love places that serve beer in the big schooners.  I like to think that I’m getting a bit of exercise lifting the giant mug.  The first dish to arrive was the Maguro Tataki, lightly seared B.C. albacore tuna sashimi with ponzu sauce and garlic chips.

The fish was fresh, the sauce was light and tasty.  The garlic chips added a nice crunch to each bite.  Not the best tuna tataki I’ve had but enjoyable and tasty (the best would have to be Alpha sushi in Vancouver).  Next to arrive was the Kurage, marinated jellyfish and vermicelli with Guud Otsumami.

Again, nothing spectacular but tasty.  It had a nice sweetness too it while being very cool and refreshing.  Jellyfish can have a bit of an almost slimy texture which is why some people don’t like it but I quite enjoyed this.  The Salmon natto yukke was next (chopped salmon sashimi with seven friends: natto, shibazuke, takuan, wonton chips, garlic chips, green onion and raw egg yolk).  The server quickly mixed the ingredients and we were left to wrap the concoction in nori seaweed to our liking.

At first there is a bit of a shock. There is a lot going on in this dish.  The more and more I ate though, the more and more I liked it.  All the ingredients were fresh and held together nicely with the raw egg yolk.  The nori added a bit of saltiness to the otherwise sweet dish.  The textures also made this dish interesting.  You get the softness of the fish with a bit of crunch from the wonton and garlic chips.  This was my favorite fish dish of the night.  Next, the Karubi, salt and pepper grilled beef short ribs with green onion sauce.

This was just ok.  The hot grilled beef was a nice change from the cold dishes served so far.  The beef was pretty tender and marinated well.  Nothing to write home about but a nice addition to the mix of dishes.  Next was the Enoki hotate bacon, Enoki mushroom and scallop wrapped in bacon with soysauce and mustard mayo.

First off, the mushrooms and scallops alone were perfectly cooked and delicious.  Wrapping them in bacon put this whole dish over the top.  Easily my favorite dish of the night.  The mustard mayo also added a nice sweetness to the otherwise salty bacon and soysauce.  The Takoyaki, deep fried puffed octopus balls served with tonkatsu sauce and mustard mayo, came out next.

The bonito flakes on top make this dish look living since they wave around when the dish is served.  The balls are fresh out of the fryer and wicked hot (my burnt tongue can attest to this).  I thought it was delicious.  Not too different than the takoyaki at Manpuku which is good because I love the takoyaki at this place.  The balls are perfectly fried, the octopus is chewy and meaty and the sauces add a wonderful sweetness and creaminess to the dish.  Next out of the fryer was the Ebimayo, deep fried prawn in crispy batter with spicy mayo.

The prawns were bouncy, hot and delicious.  It was very reminiscent of the deep fried prawns I had at Sidecar, which I had described as some of the best shrimp I have ever had.  My sister made a comments about over-saucing since the prawns were drenched in spicy mayo but you know what, I liked the sauce so for me this was a good thing.  I even scooped up the sauce with the chip in the middle of the dish….wow that just makes me sound fat.  I need to start hitting the gym again.  The Yakiudon, pan fried udon noodle with beef and vegetables came out next.

The noodles were cooked well, the beef was tender and juicy, the veggies were more of an after thought except for the odd mushroom that managed to make it to my mouth which was delicious.  All we could say about this dish was “tasty”.  Again, like most of the other dishes, not ground breaking or mind blowing or super adventurous but it’s good, tasty and satisfying.  Next, the Tontoro, pan fried pork cheek with salt and yuzu pepper.

This was interesting.  It was pork, tasted like pork and had the texture of pork, but reminded us of chicken.  Maybe it’s because these sauces are usually mixed with chicken.  The bite size pork nuggets were a little on the rubbery side but were quite flavorful.  We tried the Ikapiri, deep fried calamari with spicy ketchup and wasabi mayo next.

After the first bite, I started laughing. It’s very ketchup-y.  Not something you would expect with squid.  The calamari itself is chewy, maybe bordering on rubbery which is the case with most fried squid though.  The only one I can remember in recent memory that wasn’t rubbery was Capo in Calgary (which is probably the best calamari I’ve ever had).  It was fried nicely, crunchy but not burnt.  Last but certainly not least was the Kakimayo, grilled oysters with spinach, garlic mayo and cheese on top.

I should have put something in the picture so you can gauge the relative size of these oysters.  THEY ARE HUGE!  The biggest oyster I’ve ever seen!  I can make a fist and it’s bigger than that (and I have fighters hands, think big clunky boxer’s hands).  The cheese was baked on top to a nice crispiness which was a nice contrasts to the smooth, spinachy inside.  I liked it.  Not high class food but very tasty and satisfying.

The staff is friendly and look like they are having just as much fun as the patrons and let me tell you, everyone is having a blast.  Upon leaving, the staff starts yelling at us in Japanese again which puts a smile to our faces.  I wouldn’t say Guu is a culinary gem but it’s one of the most fun and satisfying eating experiences I’ve had in a while.  I’ll definitely be back!

http://www.guu-izakaya.com/toronto/

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~ by jlowjlow on June 12, 2011.

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