I can't believe I haven't done a review on this place yet, since I've been here so many times. Guu with Garlic, is the second of a chain of successful izakaya opened by Guu, the first one being Guu on Thurlow and the very latest Guu Garden. Of all the izakaya popping up in Vancouver, I still think Guu izakayas offer the best bang for your buck.
Takowasa - octopus in wasabi sauce. This is a dish I discovered in Japan and I'm always happy to see it being offered on this side of the pacific. For me, it's a taste of nostalgia.
Daikon Salad with hotate (scallops) and supposedly mentaiko. You can taste the mentaiko if you're looking for it. but visually, it's nowhere to be seen. This was on their daily special menu so it may not be offered all the time. Tasted good though, nice and refreshing.
Ika Karaage - came with a cocktail sauce that went well with it, but personally, I prefer my ika grilled when I go to izakaya.
Amaebi - the sweet shrimp really was in a class of it's own. It's not just any shrimp you buy off a boat in Steveston, nor is it the regular run-of-the-mill amaebi that comes from the same supplier that provides for most sushi restaurants around town. The amaebi was smallish, but packed with flavour. I'm always tempted to suck the miso from the ebi no atama as well (some of you may find this gross so I left the meaning in romaji) but I left the heads intact for deep-frying purposes later. This dish I would go back for.
Beef Yakiudon - Stir fried udon with beef and loads of negi. I love negi (green onions), so this really worked for me. This dish still comes in second to my favourite izakaya udon - mentaiko kimchi udon.
Kimchi Soup - This was absolutely perfect for a cold night. Even though it was a spring evening in April, it felt like it was still the middle of winter. The soup wasn't too spicy so you won't get ring of fire the next day and there was a nice mix of beef, tofu, and kimchi.
Saba - the perfect fish for grilling because of it's fatty nature, saba here is served on a hot plate with garlic chips, onions, bits of tomato....and you really want to eat the saba with all these little bits because it's a nice alterative to the standard rice, wasabi, and shoyu combo (nigiri sushi).
Deep-fried Ebi heads - remember I was saving the ebi heads? Here they are. Lightly coated and deep fried, you can eat these whole...they taste like really awesome shrimp chips and as my sensei always likes to mention, a good source of calcium!
Pumpkin Korroke - For me, this was sort of guu's signature dish. Basically, it's a boiled tamago encrusted with crushed kabocha (butternut squash) and made into korroke. It's dressed with a mayo sauce (probably mixed with a bit of ketchup) and sprinkled with kabocha chips. They used to run out of this every night but it seems like they've got that issue sorted out.
Chicken karaage - the bread and butter of most izakaya and seemingly a favourite of most customers. This was pretty much on everyone's table, we, along with the rest of the lemmings ordered this dish. The chicken was nice and crispy, falvourful, but makes your head spin when you dip it in mayo. You might want to order this one earlier on, or at least order a salad after to cleanse your palet...
The service here is pretty good, the prices are very good for izakaya, and the amtosphere is like most izakaya - loud and energetic. It's not as dark as some izakaya, but lighting really isn't an issue when washing down gallons of beer and sake. The food is tasty, and can get pricy if you go hungry. It's a tapas bar, Japanese style, so the purpose of these places is to get you legless, not fill your stomach (haha, if anything, to empty your stomach!). There's no question that I'd go back to Guu with Garlic.