Last minute reccos for dishes/drinks at Guu with Garlic?
I was going to wing it but with all you helpin' Hounds out there... Heading to Guu w/Garlic tomorrow night and want to take a "don't miss" list with me as two of our group have never been to an izakaya before and I want them to have a good first experience. Also one is a vegetarian so any veg-friendly suggestions would be welcome. I advised of this when I made the reso and the super-nice fellow thought it would be no problem to prep some of the dishes meat-free, if we asked.
I've pulled all the mentions I could find on this board and here's what I've come up with so far -- so add more, delete, or comment on these as you have time and energy! TIA.
- the ebimayo and carpaccio dishes (f_med)
- the kobucha korokke ($3.60), a baseball-size, comfort-food pumpkin croquette with an entire hard-cooked egg inside and a drizzle of creamy dressing. (CH izakaya crawl)
- Tako wasabi ($3), a cold shark’s fin and octopus salad traditionally eaten in Japan the way peanuts are with beer in the United States (CH izakaya crawl)
- Fried udon dishes ($7.50) are cooked fast, furious, and fresh in the open kitchen behind the bar. (CH izakaya crawl)
- If you’re feeling adventurous, try nankotsu karaage ($3.60), a fave in Japan: deep-fried chicken cartilage. (CH izakaya crawl)
- the Nama shibori wari (w/ the freshly squeezed orange and grapefruit) (tom_edo)
- the salted pork cheeks (Graeme_jw)
A longish report on our foray to GwithG: I had some sort of brain spasm and only booked for four when there were five of us but the door dude (somehow seems wrong to call a guy with a t-shirt on his head maitre d') was very good about it and got us into a table for 6 with only a few minutes wait, bless 'im. I should clarify that although all the staff were young and many funkily dressed, the level of professionalism was very high. Dishes began arriving instanter, all the food was expedited precisely, ensuring the flow of the meal was smoothy and easy and there were no lulls or empty plates left on the table. Excellent marks all around. So drinks first: nama shibori wari with grapefruit and orange for me, the same but with cassis for dad, Takara plum wine for SO, ? for BIL and a milk and strawberry with vodka concoction for SIL; this was a very pretty drink that I wanted to take a picture of but alas the battery was dead on the digicam (doh) so no pix. On to the food: at 7:30 pm on a Friday they were out of the kabocha korroke (pumpkin) which momentarily gave me pause as we had a vegetarian with us. Turned out not to be a problem as SIL is a veg because of texture issues and so is quite happy to eat the non-meaty bits of dishes -- I tend to worry too much about this when I pick the place we're dining but I don't remember that till we're eating.
The dishes we did get:
tai carpaccio -- a standout for me, very fresh, a take on the the more refined uzukuri that I loved, it had Japanese mayo on it so need I say more
kakuni (pork belly) -- insert Homer Simpson drooling and groaning here -- one of the top dishes of the evening for me, sweet, salty, fatty, melty goodness
kaki mayo yaki (oysters) -- just two of these bad boys on the half shell which Dad ordered so he and the BIL polished them off as the rest of us are not big oyster fans -- gone in a flash to good reports
beef tongue -- Dad's choice again, he always goes for the more adventurous stuff. When it arrived the waiter stayed to see if he would eat it and we all had a try except the vegetarian diner. I still have nightmares about the whole tongues Dad would roast when I was a kid but I can appreciate this dish although I wouldn't order it just for me; the addition of deep fried garlic chips was a solid one
ume-shiso udon -- everyone enjoyed this noodle offering, even me, and I'm not a fan of shiso; that taste was subtle and nicely balanced with the other notes including the plum
assorted oden which c/w Tamago: Egg, Ganmo: Deep fried tofu ball, Atsuage: Deep fried tofu; Daikon: Japanese radish; Ika-ten:Squid stick rolled with fish cake and Hanpen: Puffed fish cake -- this dish was new to all of us and we all liked it very much; I particularly liked the daikon, while others raved about the egg
edamame -- a nice touch here is that they use a coarser grind of salt and there is a hint of, appropriately, garlic
daikon salad with tiny scallops -- this dish was another standout for me, despite my dislike of cooked scallops (love 'em raw), which were easily avoided and didn't affect the taste; I've come to the conclusion that I like daikon any way you slice it :-)
agedashi tofu -- this is my favourite tofu dish of all I've ever tried and the Guu version is stellar with the right crunch to the outside, smooth inside and a light but flavourful broth
okonomiyaki -- this version does not have noodles (I used to know the differences of the two main regional okonomiyakis, my bad) but was light, flavourful and nicely presented -- I think I prefer it done with pork rather than seafood but that is personal taste and not a comment on the quality of this dish
tako wasabi -- a very small well executed serving but an appropriate amount for what can be a very strong dish; I prefer this size to the portion at Zakkushi for example; I just want a nibble.
ebi mayo -- starting to sound like a broken record but this is a dish I order often and this take on it was the best single plate of ebi mayo I've eaten; the shrimp were plump, perfectly cooked and encased in the most ethereal batter I've ever had the pleasure to ingest, like a film of the lightest tempura you can imagine.
pork cheeks -- these little fellas again drew raves from all (except the vegetarian of course since she did not try them!); salty, slightly unctuous, expertly grilled.
from the specials sheet: tenderloin on Chinese steamed buns -- this was a twist on a char siu bau, kind of deconstructed, perhaps a tongue-in-cheek homage to the current sliders/mini-burger craze (?) that worked really well and was again a hit.
marinated ribs -- the cooks here know what to do with pork; these riblets were meaty and subtly flavoured, presented with these great chile "feelers" -- tiny red threads of crunchy spice
avocado cheese cake -- since our out-of-town diner was craving a DQ Blizzard from the emporium down the street, we decided to split one order of this item as it was too intriguing to pass up (and to be honest, I didn't have room for anything more than a bite or two more; nobody was overstuffed but had an elegant sufficiency) but I'm really glad we did; it was frozen so more like ice cream than cheesecake but creamy with a hint of avocado taste heightened by the whipped cream and chunk of fresh avoc on the top. Best of all it was tangy and not too sweet (I often find cheesecake too sugary)
In case it's not already crystal clear, this is a rave. I am delighted to say that I had no complaints about the food, service or ambiance (which is a ton of fun once you get used to the yelling and stop wondering how the heck they understand one another). And I can be very picky, which has led to my SO's chagrin on many an occasion. So go to Guu with Garlic and have a great time. And take your oto-san/parents -- the staff here are will treat them with the respect they deserve and ensure they are well taken care of.
Cost of this fun feast was $125 before tip – interestingly, the server who picked up the bill tray seemed both surprised and gratified to receive $20 cash on this amount. So the final thumbs up is the fine value offered.
Thanks for the kind words, fmed, peter_v and toutefrite. It's so much fun writing up reports on resto visits (especially positive ones) -- icing on the cake to think others find them helpful or entertaining. I do wish my edits would take: I see uzusukuri is still wrong, as are various other typos I swear I corrected -- grr argh.
The whole menu is pretty great. I really had to restrain myself from adding extra dishes as I was delegated to do the ordering (with input of course).