Thursday, July 15, 2010

Guu on Thurlow

I've been going to Guu on Thurlow for years, but this is the first time I went there with a camera.  Guu was one of the first izakaya in Vancouver and it screams authenticity.  It's small, cramped, and very noisy, just like many izakaya I've been to in Japan.  In Japan, an izakaya is primarily a drinking hole, where you go to get legless, and maybe have a few snacks to go with the drinks.  Here in Vancouver though, most customers are there to load up on some of these wonderful snacks/tapas as a meal and maybe have a drink or two.  I am no exception as I often drive to downtown so it's hard to get gooned and drive my car legally. 
Guu, like a lot of other izakaya, have daily specials that change from time to time, but just about everything on their regular menu is pretty good.  One thing not pictured here today is their kabocha korokke, which is one of my favourite dishes at Guu, however, they run out fast and for some strange reason, they didn't have any at all ont his particular visit. 

Guu started brewing their own beer, or at least branding their own beer. 
I'm not much of a beer drinker, especially when it comes to the darker stuff.  The staff described this has half-way between Guiness and everything else.
Grilled nasu (eggplant).  I usually don't like eggplant, especially when it's overcooked and mushy.  This one was grilled just right, with a sprinkle of garlic chips.
Black Cod, a nice fatty fish that was made for grilling.  Tender, moist, delicious.
Chicken Karaage, a favourite of the masses.  It's hard to go wrong with deep fried chicken.
Korroke, basically mashed potato deep fried with a nice coating.
Haha, this dish really shows that the staff have a great sense of humor.  That's a mayo-mustard drizzle in case you're wondering.
Now, at a lot of other izakaya, if you order ebi-mayo, you get deep-fried prawns drizzled with, or sometimes on the side, some sort of a mayo/thousand island concoction.  It was the craze a few years ago and just about every izakaya had it.  When we ordered Ebi-mayo, we got something more like a gratin, prawns baked in mayonaise, cheese, and some other stuff.  It was good, just make sure you don't get surprised when you order it.

Of course, mentaiko kimchi udon, one of the easist things to make under the sun (provided you have the right ingredients), yet we always order it because it's so guud!
The calamari was good, but the portions were really small.  But as I said, don't go to an izakaya with the frame of mind of eating your fill.
Grilled sanma, one of my favourite fish, but a pain in the ass to eat because of all the small bones.....I usually end up swallowing half the bones, leaving little more than the head, tail and spine, just like in a Tom and Jerry cartoon.
Seared salmon (I forgot if it was called tataki on the menu). 
Ebi-fry, not to be confused with ebi-tempura.
Kalbi, in my opinion, one of the best cuts of beef.  The fat is so juicy, it sends shivers up my spine.  This stuff is glorious.
Someone ordered tako-yaki, not something I would generally order at an izakaya, but then, it's not like there are takoyaki vendors on ever street corner in Vancouver.
Okonomiyaki, another dish that's really easy to make at home, but not everyone knows how to make it, so of course it was ordered.  To be honest, Guu's okonomiyaki needed a bit more work, it was really.....doughy....not enough "stuff".  It's kind of funny talking to certain people from different regions of Japan.  In Hiroshima, it's not even acknowledged as okonomiyaki, there they call it Hiroshimayaki.  The main difference is they put yaki-soba noodles in it, and I think they cut it into squares, but I'll have to check that out next time I go to Hiroshima.
Green tea ice cream, probably from Mario's Gelato, but commercially available just about anywhere in Vancouver nowadays.  It's still good though!

Guu on Thurlow is just as guud as I remember it (haha, which really wasn't that long ago).  As far as izakaya's go, it's one of my favourites.  The prices aren't blown out of proportion, in fact, they're really affordable, the service is very friendly and generally very fast.  I like going there for the atmosphere, but even more for the food and drinks.  They make all kinds of cocktails that are popular in Japan, and have a lot of local stuff as well.  One thing I don't like, it's very, very popular, and there's always a line up.  Guu's working on that though, opening several other locations.  There are izakaya springing up everywhere now, so eventually it should all balance out. Still, I try ot go once in a while, either starting early, or starting late.  Get there around 6 or 7, get ready to wait.

Guu on Urbanspoon

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