At every Guu in Vancouver, there is a subtle difference – in both atmosphere and menu selection. Every Guu has your standard sashimi, ebi mayo and such – but there are some dishes not available at say, Guu Gastown that they may have at Guu Garden.
According to the Guu Garden website, the difference is that this particular Guu serves Oden (which is the equivalent to the Chinese hot pot).
Guu is an Izakaya: a pub-like atmosphere but more upscale with Japanese tapas. Don’t be surprised that there is a lot of yelling going on in any Guu you may visit! They greet you warmly when you arrive and wish you a fond farewell when you leave (and I mean everyone!).
This particular visit was with the forever ‘veteran mode’ foodie, Dennis Pang, Saschie and Juliane. Dennis did most of the ordering since he has been here a couple times before. I have to say, I love eating with food lovers, I don’t feel as awkward taking pictures (partly because I’m not the only one snapping pics) and also because there is never a really bad dish ordered!
We ordered the Agadeshi Mozzarella, Tuna Tataki, Nankotsu, Karaage, His Ebi Mayo, Miso Kakuni and Back Bacon with Asparagus.
Our first dish to arrive was the Agadeshi Mozzarella ($4). It’s a couple blocks of mozzarella cheese lightly battered and deep fried (tempura style) soaked in kanto-daki broth. I had to search as to what Kanto-Daki is and it’s basically Oden (the light soy and dashi broth). The mozza itself was an interesting texture, it felt almost like you were eating an agadeshi tofu but with a chewier, slightly creamier texture in the middle. I liked the green onions and seaweed they added to tempura as it gave the mozza some good ‘crunch’ to it too.
Up next was the Tuna Tataki ($6.50), served with these amazingly crispy garlic chips and ponzu sauce on the side. The Ponzu normally looks similar to soy sauce in colour, but this one was a bit lighter. Ponzu is a popular dressing for tataki dishes. The tataki had a nice clean and slightly buttery taste to it and the ponzu help brighten the taste with it’s hint of citrus notes.
Now onto the fried goods, the Nankotsu or deep fried chicken knee came next ($4). It was served with a little salt and pepper on the side, which gave it a great kick. Chicken knee is not for everyone, and normally I would not really eat chicken knee, but since it’s deep-fried, it was really hard to say no! What is it like eating chicken knee if you’ve never experienced it before? It’s a little chewy, if you’ve had tendon before, you know what I’m talking about. It may get a little crunchy at times. But before you check chicken knee off your list of things you don’t want to eat – you can’t knock it until you try it! Everyone has their own variant of ‘adventurous’ when it comes to food but, you really don’t know if you’ll like it until you try!
The dish that came shortly after the nankotsu was the Chicken Karaage ($5.80). Oh my gawd, heaven. Perfectly breaded and crispy on the outside, sweet and juicy on the inside – the best and tenderest chicken thigh I’ve had, hands down. They serve it with a side of mayo and to be honest this is good with or without the mayo. The garlic mayo makes the experience a little more richer, but you can eat this bad boy on it’s own.
Just as we were nibbling away the Miso Kakuni came ($6.50). This is pork belly stewed in haccho-miso and served with a poached egg. I think that it was mayonnaise drizzled on the top, but I can’t be too certain. I had a little nibble of this dish, it was a bit small for the four of us to split but the pork belly was fairly tender.
Next was the Asparagus and Back Bacon. I’m not sure how much this dish was because it was on their fresh sheet. The back bacon is thickly sliced, slightly smokey and sweet but tender.
Finally, the piece de resistance, the Ebi Mayo ($7.80). This can be found at all Guus and I would say is one of their signature dishes. These jumbo prawns are breaded and mixed with cilantro, deep fried and served with chili-mayo on the side. The cilantro is barely tasted (which is especially great for those who don’t like cilantro) but the prawn is the main star in the dish anyway. It’s so juicy and crispy on the outside, you’ll want to keep this dish all for yourself.
We didn’t have to wait too long for the dishes to come out and the servers always made sure our glasses were full. Between the four of us, the bill came to about $13 per person which was a great surprise to all of us. I definitely would come back here again!
Check out their website and menu here.