I bet everyone who writes about Guu includes a terrible pun using the restaurant’s name. Who am I to break tradition?

Stylin'.

Location: 398 Church St
Price: No dish above $10. It can definitely add up though and become reaaaalllly pricey.
Website: http://www.guu-izakaya.com/toronto.html

A bit of the lineup outside.

Before we were able to get inside, we had to brave a 30 minute wait time for TWO people. If you’re looking to come to Guu, make sure you bring something to do while you wait outside (they have no interior waiting space) for a table to open up for you.

Snazzy decor!

When we finally managed to get inside, it was like we had entered a different world. A little room in Tokyo or Osaka, if you will. We were greeted by a rambunctious, awesome crew of chefs and servers who made every effort to be as loud and cheerful as possible as they took us to our table. The ambiance of Guu is incredible — it’s really loud, crowded, and bustling. This is all part of the ‘izakaya’ concept, which is basically a sort of Japanese bar of sorts that serves alcoholic beverages and also loads of unique share plates. We decided to get the aburi salmon ($6.80), hotate carpaccio ($6.80), ebimayo ($7.80), karubi (grilled beef short ribs for $6.80) from the regular menu, as well as the big eye salmon from Japan ($9.80) and the duck breast ($8.80) from the daily specials list.

Daily specials menu!

Regular menu. Cute!

After a short wait filled with anticipation, the first dish arrived and our culinary adventure began!

Out of this WORLD.

Thin slices of duck breast are coupled with a Japanese red wine sauce, creating such a delicious, complex flavor profile that I literally said “wow” in real life. The meat was juicy, tender, and very satisfying texturally. In terms of flavor, the sauce accentuated the natural flavor of the duck. None of the usual gamy taste sometimes associated with duck could be found here.

First time I've had raw scallops. Damn this was good.

Slices of scallop so thin that they were almost translucent. This too was quite delicious. It’s worlds apart from a cooked scallop, so for all you daring individuals out there, this is definitely worth a try. At this point however, I began to notice that the portion sizes seemed rather small…

Not just shrimp tempura.

These jumbo shrmp were packed with a delicious punch of flavor that was only heightened by the wasabi mayonnaise sauce that accompanied it. When shrimp is cooked too much, it becomes tasteless, rough, and rubbery — but such was not the case for this dish. In fact, the crispy, deep-fried outer layer of the shrimp gave way to succulent, perfectly-cooked meat.

More than just salmon sashimi.

The outer layer of the salmon was lightly seared, which gave the salmon multiple textures and flavors. This came with a light drizzle of mayonnaise over top and a ponzu sauce which added a delightful sourness to the salmon dish.

Too salty. 😦

Every restaurant must have its good dishes and bad dishes. Guu’s beef ribs were the only big miss of the night, being far too heavily salted, and almost tough to bite through the meat. The slice of lemon that was provided helped to undercut the saltiness of the dish, but it was an oddly bad dish in the midst of a bunch of other standouts.

Straight up meaty, like a steak.

Between the duck breast and this tuna, I’d have a very hard choice choosing only one. This salmon was definitely fresh and nothing like what would usually be served at any regular Japanese restaurant. Texturally, it was a big surprise. It had an extremely meaty bite to it, almost as if it were pork or beef rather than a fish. Indeed, biting into the fish and noticing a hint of resistance as the fatty tissue and fibers of the fish slowly break down is a most intriguing feeling to have in your mouth. Even without the soy sauce, this tuna had an enchanting, slightly salty, fresh taste to it.

Because good fish deserves a close up. PS - ignore my shitty chopstick handling!

So our meal was done, right? Sadly, I discovered too late that the main problem with a place like Guu when you’re a voracious eater like me is that the portions are simply insufficient if you do not order several dishes. Two extra dishes: teriyaki sea eel with mushrooms, cheese (!) and rice ($8.80) along with a pumpkin cheesecake ($4.00) were needed to satisfy the appetites of both myself and my girlfriend.

We were so hungry that we had half of the unagidon by the time I realized I should've taken a photo. Ooops.

The addition of cheese and mushrooms to this otherwise traditional Japanese rice dish actually managed to compliment the flavors of the eel and the rice. As long as you can get over how weird it is to have cheese with rice, this tasty dish is definitely for you. Also, it was the biggest dish I had that night, and probably one of the most filling. Definitely a good idea!

It was OK.

To finish things off, we got the cheesecake of the day, which happened to be pumpkin. It was a fairly small slice, but for $4, this was to be expected. The flavors of both the pumpkin and the cheese seemed oddly muted in this cake though. Perhaps it was because I had way too many other things before it, but this cheesecake didn’t really do much for me. It wasn’t bad persay — it just seemed really mundane.

Verdict: Wow there were a lot of pictures in this write up.  Might as well add one more. 😉

My girlfriend's fail attempt at taking decor pictures.

I really liked how the food tasted here, I loved the atmosphere, the service… the one problem though is the pricing. It’s what stops me from fully recommending it to anyone, especially to university students who might be strapped for cash. Our meal ended up being rather pricy for two people eating dinner… my recommendation is if you guys want to come here to eat, either be prepared with cash, or stick to the items that are below $8. I think it’s definitely a good experience to have at least once, but it would not be a place to constantly visit if you value your money. Another option would be to have a snack in advance, but that’d defeat the purpose of going out to eat, right?

8.5/10 (if it costed less, I’d take it to 9. Maybe 9.5.)

Cheers!

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5 thoughts on “Guu: Guuud. But PRICY!

  1. I went here with my friends not too long ago. It’s definitely a different (and pleasant) experience but we waited 1 hour 30minutes before getting a table for 4 people. We were so hungry, we ended up ordering a lot from the menu lol. Maximum of 2 hours stay.

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