Guu serves homestyle Japanese food in a loud and electric atmostphere. Food is served from an open kitchen and the dishes are generally tapa sized.
Sushi bars are so North American. Welcome to the heart of downtown Tokyo (or Osaka or any other major Japanese city)! Here is a chain of very unique Japanese-style "tapas bars," aka. "izakaya." If you're looking for traditional sushi fare, you won't find it here. Prepare for an experience if it's your first time!
Immediately upon entering the somewhat small - yet eternally packed - place, you're loudly greeted by the staff, in Japanese (side note: there was one Caucasian girl who spoke perfect Japanese, which I thought was awesome). Take a seat; the bar is "where it's at," they claim, but if you're with people, tables are also available.
As I previously mentioned, the food is tapas-like; thus, you order a 3-4 small dishes priced anywhere between $5-$8. About half the fare is served raw "sashimi" or "carpaccio" style, though they also have a selection of cooked dishes one would fine at an izakaya in Japan (wiki it). One of my favourites is the seared Ahi tuna steak, but since the fish is slightly endangered, I don't get it often. I would replace it with the seared salmon sashimi with garlic ponzu sauce, which is equally amazing.
What's unique about the food here is that some of the dishes are a combination of European and Japanese cuisine. An odd - yet tasty - dish is their "pumpkin croquette ball" which consists of a hard boiled egg wrapped in pumpkin and deep-fried, drizzled with "original sauce". My friend, who normally hates eggs, loves this particular dish.
My suggestion: check out their menus for a better idea of what they offer. The selection is too diverse to do justice in this review!
I personally love the atmosphere of the place, though it can grate on people's nerves if they don't like loud noises. It pretty much consists of the staff calling out orders to each other loudly (in Japanese, of course). I find it to be both exhilarating and hilarious, but this probably isn't the best place for a *quiet* romantic date (but it's definitely date-worthy).
This is my second time at Guu, the first time we went was the Robson location near Denman Street. This time we went to the Thurlow location.
They don’t accept reservations for 2 people so go earlier. We waited 10 minutes and we were asked if we would sit in a shared table; we agreed.
The place was very small although the bar seated more people than the location in Robson. It was very noisy too. Our server did a pretty good job, even though the place was jam packed.
We ordered 7 dishes:
Chopped Fresh Tuna Sashimi and green onion, it was more minced tuna and came with some seaweed so you can roll it yourself. The flavour was very pleasant and not fishy at all; the green onion added the punch that wasabi adds to sushi.
Fresh Beef Sashimi Calpaccio, the beef was not entirely raw. It was actually quickly seared on both sides, thinly sliced and place on the plate like rose petals. The combination of the sauces and the beef made it a well balance dish.
Fresh local Seafood Sashimi Calpaccio, the seafood was very fresh although I wouldn’t order it next time. This one was a not a good value at all. For the money I could order 6 pieces of salmon sashimi.
Grilled Black Cod with Miso Mayo, the black cod was cooked to perfection and the miso mayo was the perfect companion.
Grilled Beef Tongue with Salt & Pepper, the tongue was perfect, very tender and not chewy at all. This is one my favourite dishes. But somehow the Robson location had much better flavour.
Kimchi Fried Rice, as a Chinese-Latino, I had my shared experiences in the art of eating fried rice, and I tell you it was really good. It came with ham bits and it was not too spicy at all.
And from the special menu of the day, we had the Deep Fried Pork Stomach, the pork pieces came inserted in skewers and it tasted like one of the best Chinese Roasted Pig.
Overall, both places exceed my expectations and no doubt I will come again and try the other delicacies in the menu.
I've heard lots about Guu since moving back to Vancouver last year and I finally tried it on the weekend. The one on Thurlow is open late and has your typical Vancouver izakaya groove and fare, which my partner and I LOVE. It's lots of fun, a great place to have a few drinks and order lots of different items (think tapas size) with your friends or as a couple.
The atmosphere, like other Izakaya's, is very social. This is a hang-out spot. And the food is fresh, fun, and tasty.
I found good to be a pretty relaxed, funky and down-to-earth sort of place with very reasonable prices and good food. Service was good - not great - but definately solid.
Guu is a happening spot and I would definately go back.
i'm a huge fan of japanese izakaya and have been dying to try Guu after all the rave reviews on the net and through friends. my friend lined up for 15 min before getting a table (seems this place is super busy regardless what day of the week you go) and we got seated by the entrance, which seems to be the loudest and most chaotic part of the restaurant, as this is where the all the calls, greetings, and goodbyes are hollered. I love the loud and hip ambiance as you would find at Hapa or Zakkushi, but this place is a little too much. Really, the server who hollers out individual orders as you're ordering, is really unnecessary. Granted i know this is part of the ambiance, it just got really irritating after the first couple times. Also, what was up with the tea? it was COLD. even the 2nd and 3rd refills were lukewarm at best. my friend decided to drink a little water from her sports bottle and was promptly told she couldn't do that here.. err, alright, wahtever. service the rest of the night was very inattentive, had to flag down 3 or 4 different servers. The food was decent but gotta say none of the dishes were very memorable. The chicken karaage was so greasy that oil dripped all over the place as I bit into it. And several pieces were still raw inside. the bacon-wrapped aspargus skewer was probably the best tasting dish i had, but for 4.95 is not comparable to the $1.80 yakitori's at zakkushi. overall maybe i was just expecting a little too much but i do not want to give up yet, i will definitely go back and/or try their other locations.
Went to Guu last night to check it out, since we usually go to Hapa or Gyoza King. I guess there is a reason for that. We got seated promptly and the waitress took our drink order. We then noticed that our table was dirty from teh people before us. Our drinks arrived and we ordered food.
The "fresh salted squid" which apparantly means raw squid in its own liver, not too tasty; we had the roasted duck breast, which we expected to be warm, but instead was chilled and definitely dried out. It seemed to have been around for a while. We had the pickled rice, which was fine, but nothing compared to the rice at Hapa or G.K. Then came the ebi mayo with calimari. Again, overcooked, dried out, and too crunchy. Hoping for something more exciting we tried the Ling Cod, which was the only saving grace of the night. It was cooked perfectly and was nice and hot, and the sauce was delicious.
We ordered another round of drinks somewhere in there, and only one of them showed up, and we also had to ask twice for water. The time that we were there was not that busy, the bar was full but most of the tables were empty, so there was no real excuse for this. All in all I was quite disappointed with this experience, and would not return. Check out the other izakaya style restaurants before you go here.
Went to Guu for lunch for the first time today. I usually go there for dinner. I was quite disappointed at their menu, but decided to go for their special -- the dried spanish mackerel.
I suppose I didn't really know what I was getting into, because they served the fish whole, but it was so hard to eat because of all the bones that were in there. Entirely my fault though!
i understand the whole Japanese ambiance thing.. but blasting music while you shout? It was also SOO DARK i couldn't even see what i was eating. Overall, i thought the food was tasteless and bland, really no bang for my buck. The "tea" was horrible. Probably 95% water and COLD. Disappointing.
The chairs were also wobbly, i couldn't even eat without feeling i was going to fall.
Nothing special for lunch. I agree with one of the earlier reviewers - it's more like a neighborhood restaurant and definitely not worth a long drive. The lunch menu selection was very limited - no sushi or sashimi. I had a pork cutlet curry (the curry was good, but the pork was very dry and tough); my sister had a grilled chicken rice bento box (this was the better of the three dishes) and my sister's friend had a bbq beef with a layer of cheese on top (I didn't try it but it didn't look appetizing) and our lunch meals came with either salad or miso soup. The salad was fresh though. All in all, this is a very average restaurant. If it didn't make sushi/sashimi for lunch, I would expect it to make good cooked dishes given the raving reviews it have received... So, I don't think I'll be returning to this restaurant. The experience might be better for dinner since its website suggests a wider selection of food, but think I'll try other restaurants instead.