Guu Izakaya kitchen

Just try and get a table at a decent restaurant in Vancouver on Valentines day without reservations. The smart urban set probably would use Open Table and book ahead (note to self: try it), but if you’ve savoured every romantic moment leading up to Valentines so much that you’ve forgot about actually making it, you need to think about options, and quick. Since Asian food isn’t usually people’s first choice for candlelight dining, we got reservations for Guu at Aberdeen at 5pm for a 7pm dinner.

Yes, a loud Japanese Izakaya that has roots as refuge for to the tired Japanese salary man looking to get drunk on cheap beer and forget his equally woeful troubles at work and home doesn’t exactly say “You’re special, and I want to show you how much you mean to me by enjoying a delicious meal with you” to your little lady. I know. But I have a disdain for anything so over commercialized that its origins have been forgotten, and left in its place is the commercially manufactured urgency to show love for others through emptying your wallet on appointed day x…………but before I get carried away once again with a rant, lets get to the food…

Most of the menu were tapas, or dishes served in tapa portions, which means more pictures per meal :)

The names of the dishes were too long so I’ll just come up with my own interpretations.

We started with the BBQ Eel, which was similar in size to a crab cake, but doused in teriyaki style sauce and wrapped in what I assume is dried Eel meat. The bill later revealed that the dish is formally named Eel feuille, which means eel leaf. Enjoyable dish that shows the effort in preparation.
Guu Izakaya

The spicy salmon sashimi.

Guu Izakaya - spicy salmon sashimi

Ebi Mayo. Usually this dish is more of a batter fried shrimp with tangy mayo sauce. Here we have it in baked potato salad form.

Guu Izakaya - ebi mayo

Okonomiyaki.

Guu Izakaya - okonomiyaki

4 legged meat Sashimi. I say that because I’m not sure if its beef or pork. I like rare meat, and this is one tasty meat dish.
Guu Izakaya

Roll it yourself. You get a few squares of seaweed along with a variety of sashimi and a sticky spinach pate. I like it for its novelty.
Guu Izakaya

There was another order of Yakiudon for filler, but its not worth mentioning. Udon, boiled, fried, sprinkled with fish flakes and seaweed. Done. I make a killer Yakiudon myself, which I will blog one of these days.

I’m not sure if anyone can get full at this place without ordering the whole menu, but that’s not the point of these types of places anyway, and overall I have enjoyed the experience. A culinary opposite of AYCE.

The bill was reasonable and included a large beer (a size only found in Asia). The green grapes in place of candies remind me of one of my favourite movies Love and Pop. A poignant coming of age film that had one scene where the 4 main characters were each given a ripe muscat grape, and told to lightly bite into but not swallow. The otherwise seemingly ordinary salary man then took the saliva coated grapes and packaged them into plastic pouches and stashed them into his business brief case. It was the most surreal movie moment, and I will not explain my interpretation of that here, but eating the grape made me feel like one of the adolescent girls in the movie.

Here’s some screencaps. I promise to get a youtube clip of that scene posted.

Guu Izakaya

We had to fill our stomachs before the night was over, so we headed to Gogo for some drinks and snacks. The takoyaki tastes strangely similar to the okonomiyaki we just had…
Guu Izakaya

The Verdict:
Ambiance – 8/10
Food – 7/10
Value – 6/10

This Guu isn’t quite on par with the more upscale Izakayas in downtown, but is casual enough to wander in for a weekend lunch.

Time for another Eat, Snap, Repeat TRIVIA!
As mentioned earlier, Izakayas are the Japanese equivalent of a bar, traditionally hole-in-the-wall places to get yourself sh*t faced after work. The word Izakaya loosely translates to “Sake Shop”, and serve small platters that complement the consumption of alcohol well, such as BBQ meats. A bustling and spacious chain like Guu seems to almost go against that tradition, but has done a splendid job of bringing variety to Vancouver’s overpopulated sushi scene. You can find more pictures of Japanese Izakayas on flickr HERE

Guu in Aberdeen on Urbanspoon