You can find Guu Izakaya on the quiet corner of Church and Gerrard, but the quiet stops as soon as you walk in. Greeted by shouts of welcome from the staff and the buzzing of countless conversations being made in the usually full restaurant, we're sure we're in for a guu'd experience.
The menu consists of small plates that are designed to be shared and fair warning, it takes a lot of self-control not to order one of everything. After much deliberation, we finally decided on ordering the Kurage ($5), Salmon Tataki ($7.80), Buta Kimchi Bibimbap ($9.30), Spicy Nankotsu Karaage ($6.80), and the Banana Tempura ($6.80) for dessert.
Salmon Tataki ($7.80)
All the dishes came out as they were ready, giving us a full table in the span of five minutes – no complaints though, it was the opposite of a problem.
The Salmon Tataki was a small dish made up of seared B.C. salmon, sashimi with ponzu, wasabi mayo, and garlic chips, and it was the smallest dish we ordered, much to our dismay. With only a few, tiny pieces of salmon spread out on the plate, each piece tasted remarkably fresh especially together with the wasabi mayo and we almost ended up fighting for the last bite.
Kurage, the Japanese word for jellyfish, was one of our appetizers and as jellyfish goes, the taste is pretty much dependent on the marinade while the jellyfish itself just provides texture. The marinade didn't disappoint though and the dish served as a nice, light accompaniment to the rest of the meal.
Buta Kimchi Bibimbap ($9.30)
The bulk of our dinner came from the Buta Kimchi Bibimbap – a sizzling bowl filled with rice and topped with ground pork, kimchi, vegetables, and an egg. After being tossed and mixed by our waiter, we dug into the delicious albeit a little sour (to be expected from kimchi) bowl. It was surprisingly filling although we found it a little bland, expecting it to be a little spicier.
Spicy Nankotsu Karaage ($6.80)
We've had excellent experiences with karaage in the past (see: Hapa Izakaya), so we ordered the Spicy Nankotsu Karaage as one of the specials of the night without hesitation. Unfortunately, the dish turned out to be disappointment as it turned out to be more cartilage than meat. While what little chicken there was tasted pretty good, most of the dish was unpalatable and made the order seem like a waste of money.
Banana Tempura ($6.80)
Fortunately, the Banana Tempura saved the night – deep fried, served with coconut ice cream, and smothered in chocolate and mango sauces, the description alone seemed too guu'd to be true. But it wasn't. It was every bit as good as we imagined it could be. We could've easily ordered five of these and made that dinner.
The atmosphere of Guu Izakaya always makes it a pleasure to visit. Consistently welcoming to all its customers, providing friendly and prompt service, and just being surrounded by a generally happy crowd (and you always are after having the Banana Tempura) make Guu an easy choice for a casual night out.