I don’t fashion myself a food critic, but when I come across something “better-than-the-average” I gotta write a little something about it.
My first time to Guu in Vancouver, BC was over a year ago. I was floored. You can probably tell from my Top 10 Meals Of All Time list that Asian cuisine, particularly Japanese, is a favorite of mine. The Japanese have a way about art and design unlike any other Asian country to which I’ve ever been. Guu is what is know as an izakaya. If you’ve never been to Japan, you may not be familiar what an izakaya is, or why this one in the west is so good.
An izakaya is actually a drinking establishment, and not really a restaurant. Except, since the Japanese always turn everything up a notch, the food, although casual is some of the best you’ve ever had. The “i” in izakaya means “to stay,” and the “sakaya” means “Sake.” Isakaya can therefore be loosely translated to mean “somewhere to sit while you get hammered drinking sake.” Add food to that mix…and well…you have a pretty decent after work destination for most young Japanese professionals.
Guu is a slightly westernized izakaya. Although they speak in Japanese, some of the dishes are accented with western ingredients–cheddar cheese for example. Instead of boring with what I ate, I’ll just list what I think is really worth ordering, and what I’d pass on next time. Besides, you already know what eel and tuna tataki already taste like, don’t you?
- Tuna Tataki (It’s like slightly seared tuna sashimi
- Squid Legs (marinated and broiled in a small oven, known in the US as a “Salamander,” or “Sally.” –Thanks, T.)
- Takoyaki (Fried balls with small pieces of squid in them)
- BBQ Eel + Seasonal Mushroom “Rich Gratin” (That’s eel, mushrooms, rice, and cheddar cheese. It was my fav)
- Kakuni (Pork Belly over rice)
- Sashimi Salad
COULD GET AND BE HAPPY:
- Karaage (sort of a salty fried chicken)
- Ebi Mayo (Fried prawns with a spicy-ish mayo)
- Beef Tataki (Their beef dishes are so-so, this is best of the bunch)
- Spicy Calamari
- Saba Shio (Grilled and salted mackerel)
I’D PASS ON THESE:
- Rib-eye Steak Special (cubed pieces of rib eye with a too-salty soy sauce)
- Pork Rib Bite (Little salt and pepper pork ribs. Also too salty, and not as flavorful as could be)
- Kaboche Croquette (Pumpkin and boiled egg. There /might/ be a thing as being /too/ Japanese)
To drink: if you are a drinker, have some sake or at least a beer. They have that bubble-gum-tasting soda that girls drink. Has that “pop” ball at the top. It’s tasty, too, but only young Japanese girls in a schoolgirl uniform should be allowed to order it. I did. I got giggles and funny looks.
Remember: Guuing can be addictive. Download the menu here.