Vancouver is known for it’s rich and diverse food scene- anyone who has travelled or lived here knows that Japanese cuisine is never hard to find on any downtown corner. Guu, an authentic Japanese Izakaya has been around since 1993 but exploded into the scene in 2000. Since then, they have opened over 7 restaurants (with two in Toronto) each with their own unique space, decor and flare. Every Guu location has a particular specialization, although the appetizer menu remains consistent throughout every restaurant.
Guu Garden sits atop a plaza, a stone throw away from Robson street. Their specialty is their Oden – a Japanese dish filled with eggs, daikon, fish cakes stewed in a lighter soy-dashi broth. When you walk in, you are greeted warmly and loudly by every server and chef in the restaurant all at once – for the first timer, this can be a little overwhelming! You are also thanked just as loudly and welcomed to come back again as you leave.
Our first dish was Tako Uni Wasabi ($4), a specialty dish consisting of wasabi-marinated octopus and a dollop of sea urchin served with dried seaweed. The flavour of the wasabi is strong but not in a way where it is spicy. This is a cold dish and the consistency of marinated octopus may be for more of the adventurous diner.
Karaage ($5.80) is a popular choice on the menu. This tender, juicy deep fried chicken thigh is served with incredible garlic-mayo dipping sauce. Perfectly crispy on the outside and extremely juicy on the inside – it is a must order.
Another popular dish is the His Ebi Mayo ($8.50), deep fried prawns drizzled in chili-mayo and a hint of cilantro. It’s a perfect share dish, but it might be too good to share with others!
The last dish we ordered was the Ox-Tail Ramen ($8.80), available on their Fresh Sheet from time to time. This big bowl of ramen was hearty and full of sliced, sweet onions, garlic chips, green onion, ox-tail and ramen in a dark-soy broth. The ox-tail is extremely tender and literally fell off the bone and flavourful from the broth. What a perfectly satisfying finish to a dinner on a cold, rainy winter evening.
Other favourites at Guu Garden are the Agedashi Mozzarella, Tuna Tataki, Sashimi (with many of their fish being imported fresh daily) and Nankotsu. Also try their Hot Stone Bowl dishes that change on occasion, it’s a unique treat.
Every Guu is perfect for a night out with friends or family with plenty of share dishes that range from $3-$10. When the weather is warmer and the patio is open, Guu Garden can become quite a hot spot in the city for lunch and for dinner – so it’s best to make reservations!