Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Urban Eats @ Guu Izakaya

Guu's small dining room is always packed
My friend Dolly and I finally made it to Guu Izakaya after our food misadventure last time!  I had never waited 1.5 hours to get into a restaurant before - so this place better be good.  We waltzed in and gave our name to the hostess who seated us right away after negotiating free line by-pass after the water main broke last time.  This felt really good, because the family of five next to us had waited an hour and fifteen minutes that night.  Yes, it's like the hottest new nightclub in town...for foodies and broke students. 
Maguro Tataki - lightly seared tuna
The menu is pretty immense with tons of choices for your Japanese tapas adventure.  I advise perusing online beforehand so there isn't the pressure of deciding what you are going to eat - when you have been starving outside for over an hour.  I asked our server what was the most popular and she pointed out all the gems pictured here.  We started with the Maguro Tataki ($6.80) of lightly seared tuna sashimi from BC.  Ok first off, I can't believe how cheap everything was!  The tuna itself was fresh, well-seared with bits of crispy garlic and scallions on top.
Tofu Salad
The Tofu Salad ($5.80) was not bad.  Some nice greens to round out our meal we thought.  It consisted of romaine lettuce, tofu and garlic sauteed mushrooms.  I probably would get the Sashimi Salad ($7.80) instead next time.

Kinoko Cheese Bi Bim Bap - yes you read right...cheese.
The Kinoko Cheese Bi Bim Bap ($8.30) sailed past me and landed at the table next to us.  Once I saw the server tossing together all the rice and melting the cheese in the hot stone bowl, I immediately signed us up for one of those.  Cheese in bi bim bap?  Kinda weird, no?  Actually, it's delicious and reminds of an Asian-fusion sort of risotto.  The rice was creamy and the bits at the bottom were are crispy sitting in the hot stone bowl.  There were also chunks of garlic sauteed mushrooms and seaweed sauce in the mix.
Gindara - grilled black cod
I swear I have had a miso-glazed cod like this at Nobu, except it was ($23) and not the ($9.80) I paid for my Gindara at Guu.  The fish was melt in your mouth goodness with a miso and white wine sauce on top.  A++.  The portion was quite generous considering all the food that we had ordered, we could barely get through it all.  We also ordered the Kobocha Korokke ($4.50), a deep-fried ball of pumpkin with a hard-boiled egg in the middle.  The croquette is finished off with a sauce reminscent of thousand island dressing.  Suprisingly delish!  Stupid me, I deleted the photo when scrolling too rapidly on my camera.  
The open concept kitchen
The price is right at Guu.  This place deals good food at large volumes with not an empty table in sight.  Service is beyond friendly, everyone gets greeted heartily by all the servers when you enter to door and then again when you leave.  It's like a Japanese Lick's, without all the singing.  The food is all really delicious and I would go back again and try a couple other things on the menu.  They definitely have the formula for success. 
Guu Izakaya
398 Church Street, Toronto ON
(416) 977-0999
Open for dinner 5 PM to Midnight
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  1. Great review!

    I've wanted to eat here for a while now but have never braved the lines!

    I'm now definitely excited!

  2. 1.5 hour wait!!! It's brutal but totally worth it. Get there at 4:30 PM to be seated first ;)

  3. I love the cheese bi bim bap and I get the pumpkin croquette every time! I think the key is to go early...I went to Guu a few weeks ago, on a Monday at 6pm and there was no line up at all. But once I came out around 8pm there was a big line up outside.