Guu Izakaya, Toronto, Ontario

April 3, 2010

Recently, I had a chance to visit this new Japanese restaurant called Guu Izakaya, opened back in mid December 2009. Guu offers tapas-styled menu which is different from other Japanese restaurants around here in Toronto. I recommended to go there before 5pm when the restaurant opens. If not, you might have to wait for awhile. The concept of the place is very casual, loud, and lots of energy. Every single time when someone walks into the restaurant, staffers shout out greetings. The atmosphere of the place is pretty busy and noisy. So, if you don't mind this, this might be a place for you to give it a try. The interior design of the restaurant is very nice. It does give the pub atmosphere with a hit of Asian influence. I was not surprised at all when later I found out it was designed by the firm that I did my internship! The restaurant offers long communal tables. However, they do have several two-persons tables available. I just want to mention that don’t forget to check out their washrooms too. They’re pretty nice!

I went to Guu with another two friends, so we ended up ordering seven dishes to share in total, plus three more dishes for desserts. The dishes here aren't that big since it is in tapas-styled. It would be better to come with lots of people, so you can order variety of dishes. From left to right, the first dish is called "Gyu Carpaccio". It is seared marbled beef sashimi, crispy around the edges. These very thin slides of beef pretty much melt in your mouth when you eat. The second dish is called “Hotate Carpaccio”. It's scallop sashimi with wasabi dressing. The scallops are fresh and have buttery textures. The dressing is well-compliment and doesn’t influence the flavor of the fresh scallop. The third dish is called “Takoyaki”. It is deep fired puffed octopus ball with tonkatsu sause and mustard mayo. If you like octopus, I recommended this. It's a very well-known street dish in Japan. This dish was not bad, but I had this better. I was happy to eat them again since I haven't had them for so long.   

(Clockwise) The next dish is called Kimchi Udon boiled Udon. It is udon noodle with spicy cod roe and topped with kimchi. If you love kimchi and cod roe, you must try this. Even thought the dish looks very simple, it does pack with tons of flavours. Next, it's marinated tuna. I forgot to take the picture before we ate, so here is one of the pieces! It might be one of the specials that they have since I don’t see this in the online menu. Next dish is this sweet shrimp sashimi. Even though it looks like a bunch of live shrimp staring at you at the table, but they were sweet and delicious. The last dish is grilled saba. It is a grilled mackeral with garlic, lemon, and herbs.

Now, it's dessert time! We order (left to right) fried banana with coconut ice cream, wasabi cheesecake and almond tofu. I think the highlight was the wasabi cheesecake. It was very weird, but interesting good. It had a hint of wasabi that gave me a little kick in my mouth and nose. The texture was like a normal cheesecake but it was less sweet but more salty. I'm not whether it's a mental thing or not when you eat wasabi and you think of soy it taste salty!

To conclude, the food was unique and good. The service was not bad. We didn’t have to wait for food that long even though the tables were all full. Plus, we went there when the restaurant just opened, so no line up. The staffers were nice and friendly. So, I give 8 out of 10 for my first time experience at Guu Izakaya.

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