Out of the six Guu izakaya locations on the Lower Mainland, we’ve previously eaten at Guu with Otokome in Gastown and Guu’s original location on Thurlow. Most recently we checked out the second oldest Guu restaurant, Guu with Garlic on Robson Street. This popular Japanese tapas eatery boasts an amusing concept:
“Garlic is sexy”. Sexy is not only about its surface but also points the fundamental attitude that reflects the energy. Garlic is good, makes you healthy and beautiful! Yeah! Garlic is always good with sake too.
Much like Guu’s other locations, Guu with Garlic is quite small, but unlike others it’s not as dark inside. It can get very busy, so you should expect to wait in a long lineup to get a table. The dining area is warm and inviting, with lots of wood tones. Service is friendly and in terms of noise level, Guu with Garlic is quieter than Guu’s original location on Thurlow. However, because Guu is an izakaya, it will get loud, especially as the evening progresses!
We ordered a few dishes to share between the three of us. A couple of plates we’ve enjoyed previously like the yaki udon and kakimayo along with some others like oden soup and jellyfish salad. First to arrive at our table was the Ton Toro ($6.20) – Grilled, seasoned tender pork cheek drizzled with yuzu ponzu sauce. Yuzu, a small, very aromatic citrus fruit, gave the very thin consistency ponzu sauce a lovely tart flavour.
Shark Fin Salad ($5.20) – Not to worry, this is fake shark’s fin, created with transparent cellophane/glass noodles and jellyfish marinated in their “Guuud” sweet sesame dressing. While jellyfish has a chewy texture, it has little flavour on its own, so sesame was the prominent taste in this dish.
Kakimayo ($4.80) – Baked oysters with spicy cod roe, creamy mayo sauce and finished with cheese. If you’re a raw oyster purist, then you might not be fond of the cooked texture of this dish. However, we enjoy both cooked and raw oysters and appreciated these well-sized ones with their thick topping.
Oden, a Japanese winter dish consisting of a variety of ingredients, but we chose a Boiled Egg ($1.00) and Daikon Radish ($1.50). The oden is stewed in a light, soy-flavoured dashi broth and served with a little karashi paste on the side. Karashi is a Japanese mustard, made from the seeds of the karashina plant.
Beef Tataki ($5.20) – Thinly sliced, lightly seared raw beef with ponzu sauce alongside Sashimi Salad ($6.50) – Salmon sashimi (can be assorted daily) on a bed of greens with plum dressing and wasabi mayo. Both proteins were exceptionally fresh and tasty, especially the vibrant red wild salmon pieces.
Yaki Udon ($7.80) – Pan fried udon noodles with beef mushrooms greens onions topped with sliced nori, soy sauce and butter. One of my favourite dishes at Guu; doesn’t everything taste better with butter? I (and Paula Deen) think so.
We also ordered a couple of dishes that were specials of the day and not offered on Guu with Garlic’s regular menu, such as the above steak salad and the prawn heads with dipping sauce, pictured below.