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Kitanoya Guu with Otokomae – Vancouver

April 23rd, 2009 · No Comments

Kitanoya Guu with Otokomae (Guu Gastown) Kitanoya Guu with Otokomae (Guu Gastown) Kitanoya Guu with Otokomae (Guu Gastown) Kitanoya Guu with Otokomae (Guu Gastown) Kitanoya Guu with Otokomae (Guu Gastown) Kitanoya Guu with Otokomae (Guu Gastown) Kitanoya Guu with Otokomae (Guu Gastown) Kitanoya Guu with Otokomae (Guu Gastown)
Huge fans of Guu with Garlic (I’ll abbreviate it GwG to save me some typing) – been there 3 times (at least). Great, super-fun, raucous atmosphere at GwG – one of the best places in the city that I’ve been to for after-work relaxing with beer and fun bar food, too much noise – a great way to start an evening out or just an event by itself. Been there with parents, been there with infants – always friendly service.

So – tonight, we both needed a stress reliever and we decided to head out to Gastown. Vancouver’s “old city” section with turn-of-the-century buildings, globe streetlights – and lots of bars and restaurants. I’ve been out there a couple of times, and kind of like the vibe but we hadn’t been there in ages – I looked up Guu – realized they had a Gastown branch and we were off.

We were walk-ins at about 8pm – prime time for these restaurants – we only had to wait about 10 minutes before being seated (they don’t take reservations) and one thing I love about GwG and this place is how crazy friendly the servers are. They’re constantly smiling – incredibly polite – it totally adds to the fun atmosphere of this place.

Gastown Guu has a totally different feel in terms of how it looks – it has exposed brick walls and beams (different from the Japanese-style GwG) but the atmosphere is still fun, I still want to order a huge Sapporo the minute I step into the place, and it’s definitely the kind of place you could go to for a relaxed fun meal thinking “nothing crazy” to yourself and the atmosphere (and beer) would escalate the evening to one of those night where as you chug the J├Ągerbomb, some faint glimmer of thought crosses your mind that “this may not be such a great idea”.

Anyway – for anyone who hasn’t been to izakaya restaurant before – the closest analogy is that of a tapas bar – small plates, great for sharing and great with drinks. The food at Guu is definitely Japanese with ingredients like wasabi, bonito, octopus, kewpie mayonnaise, and tempura frying – but even if you’re someone who normally turns up their nose at all that umami, you’ll find that (with a little help from the deep fryer), all the dishes at Guu fall squarely into the ‘delicious’ category.

Tonight we tried out 5 dishes – the yaki udon (beef noodles), ebi mayo (fried shrimp with mayonnaise sauce), atsuage (fried tofu with daikon), takowasa (octopus salad), and enoki scallop (bacon-wrapped enoki mushrooms and scallops). The plates came in random order – just when they were fresh out of the kitchen and all were great. The takowasa had a bit of a wasabi torture surprise to it (which I love) and was this super fun octopus salad that came with seaweed you would wrap it with to make mini octopus salad rolls. The crispness and flavour of the seaweed perfectly complemented the soft octopus and vinegar flavours of the salad and the wasabi gave it some heat to keep it exciting – one of the best new izakaya dishes I’ve had in ages. The ebi mayo was delicious as always – huge pieces of shrimp; the yaki udon was perfectly cooked (what makes me love udon noodles so?); the atsuage was a nice hot starter, not too much flavour but perfectly cooked and the coolness of the daikon helped offset the heat of the tofu fresh out of the fryer. D wasn’t a huge fan of the enoki scallop – she found it too fibrous – but she also got the huge chunk of mushrooms (I had the smaller one) – thick, tasty bacon-wrapped mushrooms and scallops – how could this not be delicious?

Service was insanely attentive – always just a nod away and the bill came to $34.50 – for the 5 plates with water to drink (we know the izakaya trap too well on a weeknight to start with the beer).

Bottom line: Guu in Gastown doesn’t disappoint and holds up the Guu franchise just as well as Guu with Garlic does. I like the decor of Guu with Garlic better – it’s a bit better lit, a bit more Japanese-feeling with the paper screens and open kitchen, but if it’s going to be a crazy night – maybe Guu with Gastown is better for proximity to your next bar hop. The atmosphere is just as fun, and the food just as delicious.

Kitanoya Guu with Otokomae (Guu Gastown)
375 Water St, Vancouver, BC V6B
Tel: (604) 685-8682
www.guu-izakaya.com/gastown.html


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Tags: Asian · Japanese · Vancouver

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