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Guu is Guu(d) – review + pics

BokChoi Dec 17, 2009 05:51 PM

From the moment you walk through the inconspicuous doors of Guu, you’re immediately greeted by the warm hoots and hollers of the staff of Guu. The atmosphere in Guu is electric and you feel happy just being near such enthusiastic young people. The waitstaff are extremely polite and gracious and are eager to please. Sitting at the bar is, IMO, the way to go because you get to see a bit of the action. No where else in Toronto have I ever felt the ‘atmosphere’ done so well. My most similar experience would have to be at Ippudo in NYC.

The look of the space is modernist, yet warm, with lots of glazed wood used throughout the space. The bar stools feel sturdy, almost too sturdy as I struggled to move them aside to fit in my seat. The menu is simple and descriptive. I was lucky to be dining in a large group, so I got to sample a large variety of items (I’d say almost 80% of the menu). I’ll include photos and a short description below, spending a bit more time on some of my favourite dishes.

Guu is an Izakaya. The type of food they serve is like Japanese Tapas/bar food. This import from Vancouver is exceptionally popular there, and many have been anticipating their arrival in Toronto for quite some time now. Right from the get-go, I would have to say I was very impressed with the space and the service.

Takoyaki was the first dish we had. It was lightly battered and well-fried. This was an indication of their frying expertise to come. The tako /octopus inside was very tender, as well as very miniscule. I would have liked less mayo drizzled on top of my tako-ball, but the flakes of bonito on top never fail to amuse me and take my mind off the overpowering mayo. I enjoyed this ‘meatball popper’ and it did well to whet my appetite. Overall, it was nice, but since I tend to shy away from battered ‘fish ball’-type creations, I doubt I would order it again on my own.

Takoyaki: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

Next on the menu was the salmon natto. A beautiful egg yolk sat atop a rainbow of chopped vegetables. It was a delightful array of colours to behold and I really enjoyed the interactivity that accompanied the dish - how you had to mix it yourself. The natto was pleasant and not overpowering (though, personally, I enjoy the taste of natto) and the texture was signature ‘natto’ (if you’ve had it, then you know what I mean). It was complimented well by the crisp accompanying vegetables that were tart and a bit astringent in comparison, as well as the fried wonton crisps. The yolk added a nice creaminess that paralleled the natto’s texture and IMO enhanced it. Once mixed, they can be scooped onto the accompanying seaweed sheets and eaten as rolls. I highly recommend this dish.

Natto: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

Oysters are definitely one of my favourite foods. However, Guu’s interpretation left a little something to be desired. Their Kaki Mayo was unfortunately drenched in a thick paste of cheese, creamy sauce and spinach, which IMO masked the subtle sweetness of the delicate oyster beneath it. The cheese itself was not sharp, and I thought it was one of their weakest dishes. SO enjoyed the Kaki as a dish, but believed it failed on the level of being an ‘oyster dish’.

Kaki: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

Who doesn’t love fried chicken? I sure do love that battered loveliness! Guu’s version is moist and well flavoured from a deep marinade. The batter is light, and thin. The frying was done exceptionally well and was not at all greasy. I could eat an entire plate of this and be very happy, and full. SO, however, states plainly: “It’s still just fried chicken”. I guess we can’t all be fans of fried chicken.

Fried Chicken: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
Moist interior: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

The Aburi Salmon came next. This dish neither wowed me, nor disappointed me. Once again, I found the mayo to be too overpowering.

Aburi Salmon: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

Kombocha Korokke is supposedly a signature dish of theirs, but it didn’t work for me. I personally do not enjoy a hard-cooked egg, so this dish wasn’t going to shine for me from the start. The presentation was amusing though.

Kombocha Korokke: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
Inside: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

One of the highlights of the evening came next - the grilled saba. The fish was uncharacteristically moist. If you enjoy mackerel, then I would highly recommend this dish. It was very fragrant and the taste was spot on for me – not too salty, nor drowned in its accompaniments.

Saba: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

Gomaae is a dish served cold. It’s comprised of spinach and a black sesame sauce. I believe it would have worked much better if the black sesame was more fragrant. I would have liked a more freshly roasted and ground version in order to make this dish ‘pop’ for me.

Gomaae: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

The kurage that came next reminded me a lot of a cold Shark’s Fin dish. Instead of the highly controversial (and expensive) shark’s fin, a firm jellyfish was used instead. The crunchy texture was very refreshing, and the sesame oil used to coat the delicate jellyfish also made the dish very aromatic. I enjoyed this dish a lot and I found that it was a good choice as an intermediate course because it was light and texturally different than previous courses.

Kurage: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

Guu, amusingly, had their own version of Ramune – the very popular soda drink with the special ‘bead’ top that needs to be popped to get at the nectar inside the bottle. I didn’t get to sample it, but friends who did said it was the same as other versions, but just had a “Guu” label.

Ramune: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

Daikon is another great palate cleanser IMO. The fresh, crisp root vegetable’s astringent properties acted to break up the heaviness that may have accumulated from the fried, and more heavily flavoured dishes that came before it. As a dish on its own, I wouldn’t have made a point to order it, but it was a nice addition to the grand meal.

Daikon salad: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

Oden is a soup-based dish served in a stone pot. It is filled with an assortment of goodies; such as radish, tofu, bamboo shoots and fish cake. You could also order the items a la carte. The soup itself is light and not too heavily salted. I enjoyed this dish and would recommend it if you enjoy a light broth. During the cold Toronto winters, this dish serves well to warm the belly.

Oden: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

Since pork belly is all the rage right now, we had to try Guu’s version. Their Kakuni was succulent and extremely tender. The fatty bits were nice and oozy as well. It had the perfect amount of salting and it literally melted in your mouth. The side egg was a nice accompaniment for substance, and textural contrast, but let’s be honest! We’re here for the tender pork belly and it delivered (luckily, the microwave reheating didn’t mar the taste for me in the least).

Kakuni: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

Next up was a favourite dish of the SO’s and mine. It was the Tako Wasabi and it really packed in the heat. It was octopus based and was diced alongside a healthy serving of wasabi root. It’s served in a small portion on purpose, I’m sure, because the heat is very satisfying in small quantities. I couldn’t imagine eating a large bowl of this!

Tako Wasabi: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

Always a sucker for raw shrimp, the opening special Vancouver shrimp sashimi came next. These were incredibly tender and sweet. I really, really loved them and would have ordered many more, if not for the fact that Guu claimed to have run out of them for the evening! Darn. They are served simply, naked, except for the shell around the head, and paired with wasabi. The head is not something to toss aside and is really the best part! Sucking the ‘goe’ out of the head is like eating sea urchin. Waste not, my friends!
Shrimp Sashimi: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

I have really never met a tongue I didn’t like eating, and that went for Guu’s version as well. The Gyu Tangue was exceptionally fragrant from the expert grilling. The taste was equal parts sweet and salty and I loved every morsel. I particularly enjoy the texture of tongue and this one did not disappoint. I enjoyed the generous portion, though I could have eaten much more if given a choice! Bravo!

Gyu Tangue: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

Tofu salad was what you would expect. Firm tofu served beneath a neatly piled tower of fried wonton crisps. The mushrooms added a nice musty aroma, but overall, I found the dish somewhat plain. As plain as tofu, I guess! If you love tofu, then this is a very strong dish. Myself? I kept nibbling at the remnants of the beef tongue that came before it. It was nicely subtle, but after eating dishes filled with salt and wasabi, I lusted for more.

Tofu: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

Next, a filler dish came. The Kimchi Udon was bright and loud in taste, stemming mostly from the spicy roe on top of the silky udon. Texturally, the udon was just ‘okay’ for me and didn’t stand out. The roe held a nice contrast against the soft udon. The spicing of the roe punctuated each bite and made the experience quite exciting and unexpected. Was it a standout for me? Probably not, but it was definitely worth trying.

Udon: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

Though this was easily the best agedashi tofu I have ever had, apparently my dining companions felt it lacked in refinement. The crisp skin was thinner than anything I’ve experienced in Toronto (by far), but was apparently sub-par when compared with the Vancouver variant. The tofu was agreeably less than silky, but I still enjoyed this dish immensely. The sauce was a perfect blend of salty and sweet and went beautifully with the tofu.

Agedashi Tofu: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

Gyu Shabu Salad was cold when I had it. I am not sure if it was meant to be that way (the beef), but there was just so much else to eat that by the time I got to it, it was stone cold. I felt if the meat was a bit warmer and freshly cooked, the dish would have shone a bit brighter. But that was probably my fault. Overall, the dish was just ‘okay’ for me. Once again, the black sesame was not fragrant enough for my tastes.

Gyu Shabu Salad: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

Okonomiyaki is a very popular dish in Izakaya’s and I was told this was a very good version. To be honest, this really wasn’t my ‘thing’ and I only had a small piece and was satiated (but I still wanted more shrimp sashimi darn it!). It is similar to a pancake made of various seafood bits and vegetables. It reminded me of a zucchini pancake or even a latke to be honest. By this dish, my stomach was filled to the brim and perhaps it wasn’t the best time for such a substantial course.

Okonomiyaki: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

Guu’s sashimi salad was nice and I particularly enjoyed the crunchy seaweed chunks on top. The fish selection was nice and the quality was top notch. I didn’t take too much note of what was included, but I got to sample the hotate (scallop) and sake (salmon). I once again found the mayo sauce to be distracting. Would I order this again? Not likely to be honest, mostly because there were so many stronger dishes (but that’s generally how I felt about all the salad courses… perhaps I am unfair against the vegetables in favouring meat

)

Sashimi Salad: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

Though I didn’t consume any alcohol during the dinner, my friends didn’t hesitate to sample much of the drink menu. I believe many of them particularly enjoyed the bamboo drink. I found the mixed drink menu to be very reasonably priced, and the selection nicely varied.

Bamboo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

The last tapas entry before dessert was the grilled salted pork cheek. The yuzu pepper was something that made the dish a real knock-out because it helped to cut the excessive saltiness of the dish. I particularly enjoyed the char-grilling and salting that was done prior to searing which made the dish very fragrant. I really enjoyed this dish and would recommend it.

Tontoro: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

Last, but not least, was the lovely Sake Cheesecake. This was a very tiny sliver of cheesecake, but what it lacked in size, it packed in flavour. The sake, I found, was very pronounced and really elevated the cheesecake from the norm. I still do find that portioning to be a bit small for $4, but once again, just my opinion.

Cheesecake sliver: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

With our cheque came some lovely frozen grapes, compliments of the chef. They were a simple and elegant way to end the meal. Free things, no matter how small they may seem, are always welcome and make a customer feel warm and fuzzy inside.

Frozen Grapes: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

Here is a photo of the kitchen itself. It’s always amazing how much food comes out of such a small space.

Guu Kitchen: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

I’ve also included some photos of the menu. They’re not perfect, but I didn’t have a chance to upload a more comprehensive version.

Specials menu: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
Guu menu: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
Guu menu 2: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
Guu drinks menu: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

Upon leaving the restaurant, we were once again serenaded with the same hoots and jolly hollers we were met with when we first arrived. It really makes you feel so welcome to this establishment and I just can’t wait to come back!

I would highly recommend Guu for a casual and fun night out – the more the merrier! It’s great to sample more of the dishes; otherwise, you get too full too quickly. I was very surprised something like this can be found in Toronto. I really think that Guu is world-class and now understand the excitement coming from other Chowhounds upon hearing of their opening! The atmosphere is fun and electric and the food is really top-notch, with of course some dishes stronger for me than others. I hope they can maintain the quality of their dishes, because as it stands, Guu really knocks their competitors out of the water in Toronto. Guu-d luck to them! It’s a small space, so it’s bound to be packed. So run, don’t walk to Guu. You won’t be disappointed. I know I wasn't!

Guu Izakaya
398 Church Street

Cheers and Happy Eating!

BokChoi

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  1. mogo RE: BokChoi Dec 17, 2009 06:08 PM

    Ha! I was just wondering if this place is open yet! Thanks for your thorough review, BokChoi.
    Do you know if they have nankotsu on the menu?

    1 Reply
    1. re: mogo
      BokChoi RE: mogo Dec 17, 2009 06:11 PM

      Hi mogo and thanks! I didn't see any yakitori really on the menu, to be honest (which surprised me). But I could have just missed it. Alas, no chicken cartilage!

    2. aser RE: BokChoi Dec 17, 2009 07:06 PM

      all I have to say is....

      GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

      I need to go.

      1 Reply
      1. re: aser
        jlunar RE: aser Dec 17, 2009 07:12 PM

        It's really good/fun - and it's only in soft-open phase now (well, I guess official by the time most peeps read this). I'm writing up my bit now. I think there were a handful of dishes that stood out, but I'm not sure I'd say we'd have a full meal of it (in terms of repeat visits). However, I did have a really good time during my visit and I felt the cocktails were interesting. Perfect for the snack+drink crowd (which is what an Izakaya should be)! Great energetic vibe from the place. Look back in an hour or so for my babble, though BokChoi has it covered.

        -----
        Guu
        398 Church Street, Toronto, ON M5B 2A2, CA

      2. s
        sbug206 RE: BokChoi Dec 17, 2009 07:42 PM

        I think I'll pass. I don't understand the fascination with this place. The food doesn't seem that different from the "hot items" you get at any AYCE menu. But the prices for each little single serving dish are outrageous. What was the damage for this meal? I'll bet you'll have to spend at least $50 per person to get a decent amount of food. While many of you may think that's probably a bargain to spend that kind of money. I can think of far better places to eat for that price than japanese "tapas".

        5 Replies
        1. re: sbug206
          jlunar RE: sbug206 Dec 18, 2009 09:11 AM

          We spent about $45pp (tax and tip!) - and my post below shows how much we ate and only some of what we drank. Thought it was very cheap considering how much booze we got.

          1. re: jlunar
            Teep RE: jlunar Dec 18, 2009 09:37 AM

            You showed at least 20 food items - does that mean each is around $2??

            1. re: Teep
              TorontoJo RE: Teep Dec 18, 2009 09:46 AM

              I think she meant $45 per person.

              1. re: TorontoJo
                Teep RE: TorontoJo Dec 18, 2009 09:51 AM

                Duh...

          2. re: sbug206
            Bobby Wham RE: sbug206 Dec 21, 2009 10:42 AM

            cool, more for us

          3. s
            syrahc2 RE: BokChoi Dec 17, 2009 08:00 PM

            How does Guu in Toronto compare to Guu in Vancouver? My hubby loves the Vancouver location and makes it a required meal every time we are there.

            4 Replies
            1. re: syrahc2
              grandgourmand RE: syrahc2 Dec 19, 2009 07:01 AM

              It seems to be at the same level as the Vancouver version (s). Went last night and it was great. A few dishes I didn't care for (fried octopus balls, and grilled short ribs that were too salty), but the rest was amazing. I regret not having the shrimp sashimi or tongue, but that's for next time.

              1. re: grandgourmand
                s
                syrahc2 RE: grandgourmand Mar 3, 2010 06:50 AM

                I'm happy to say it was just like we remembered! Hubby adores it!

                1. re: syrahc2
                  p
                  peppermint pate RE: syrahc2 Mar 3, 2010 01:23 PM

                  Agreed. There is at least one guy, I think 2 maybe (front of house guy and one of the chefs) who they brought over from the Vancouver restos.

                  When you went - and for anyone else whose been in the past couple of weeks, are the line-ups getting any better? I'm dying to go back but I can't stomach a long wait.

                  1. re: peppermint pate
                    i
                    illy RE: peppermint pate Mar 3, 2010 02:57 PM

                    I went for the first time on Saturday. We got there at about 4:50pm (it opens at 5) and there was already a huge line. The five of us got in, but just barely! I think only a couple other tables were sat after us.
                    We loved it, though! I thought the service was good, considering how busy it was. And as a vegetarian, I wasn't disappointed with the selection, which I was a bit nervous about.

                    Too bad I was starving again at 9pm! Who eats at 5??

            2. jlunar RE: BokChoi Dec 17, 2009 09:49 PM

              Riding on your thread BC!

              Full post (plus intro/extro) with pics: http://bit.ly/8744Xk (there's a lot!

              )

              Well, there's enough that I decided to organize this by sections on the menu. Otherwise, it would be far too chaotic! Ready?

              Special Menu (2/3)
              There weren't too many specials, but we did like what was on it. I was tempted to get the uni, but ultimately decided to pass. This time!

              Marinated BC Albacore Tuna
              sashimi with jalapeño sauce. Really quite good. I liked the spice from the japaleño. Off the special menu.

              Amaebi
              Being the Vancouverites they are, of course this made the menu. Sweet and delicate. Don't forget to suck the head! A good order.

              Appetizers (3/6)
              Apps were pretty strong all-around. I liked all that we did order, with the Takowasabi as my top pick.

              Takowasabi
              Cooked octopus with chopped wasabi stem and vegetables. To be wrapped in nori. I really really like this dish. I first had it at Kingyo in Vancouver and Guu's version is just as good (or better). Cruchy, wasabi-hot, a little bit of vinegar or something like that and a sweet hit. I asked for a second order of this. Though I was told later that this probably isn't house-made (and bought from a supplier). True? False? Someone else will have to ask.

              Kurage Marinated jellyfish and vermicelli (fake shark's fin). Small dish, but a nice crunchy snack. This makes my potential re-order list. It was tasty.

              Gomaae
              Boiled spinach with black sesame sauce. Looking like a baby sludge monster, this was really tasty. Sweeter than the white gomaae you can find around town, I'm told. I quite liked this, though it verged on being dessert. Maybe a good intermezzo order..?

              Salads (4/4)
              I found the salads okay but nothing that I would order again.

              Tofu Salad
              Tofu and garlic sauteed mushrooms on greens with crispy wonton chips. Nice plating/stack, but entirely meh for me.

              Gyu Shabu
              Salad Thinly sliced boiled beef on greens with black sesame sauce. Needs more beefy flavour or something.

              Sashimi Salad
              Assorted fish on greens with mayo. Meh. It wasn't bad, (some tataki in there!) but I think this is not why you would come to Guu.

              Daikon Salad Daikon with greens, scallop and spicy cod roe mayo. I somehow missed the spicy cod roe taste.

              Cold Dishes (2/5)
              Interesting dishes to eat and try, though there are some repeats that swap out the main ingredient for a like one.

              Aburi Salmon
              Lightly seared Atlantic salmon sashimi with ponzu sauce and wasabi mayo. Tasty enough, with the notes of garlic adding a nice depth to it.

              Salmon Natto Yukke
              Chopped salmon sashimi with natto, shibazuke, takuan, wonton chips, garlic chips, green oinion and raw egg yolk. To be mixed and wrapped in nori. Needed more natto - you get the texture/goo of it, but no taste. I liked the takowasabi better. Less items, but better taste imo.

              Deep Fried (4/8)
              There were a couple things on the deep-fried menu that we were hesitant to order - the Brie Cheese being one of them. Someone else will have to try that out first! We also passed on the Ebimayo because we figured that we knew what it tasted like. There was no logic in that thought though - I mean, what if we missed the best fried shrimp ever?! Oh well. Next time!

              Karaage
              Deep fried soy sauce marinated chicken served with garlic mayo. All my dining companions really liked this - and they should. It's lightly battered, crispy, and juicy inside. Don't know why I couldn't get into it. I still prefer the chicken at Ajuker - and I know they're two different animals.

              Takoyaki
              I'm used to the smushier ones from Manpuku, but I quite liked these. I can't vouch for authenticity. I'll try these again sometime though. There was so much going on at this point that it was hard to process it all.

              Kabocha Korokke
              Deep fried kabocha pumpkin croquette with a boiled egg inside. I liked this one a lot. A good snack and the lightly sweet kabocha is really nice. Though I kind of wish it were a tea egg inside with runny yolk instead of just boiled.

              Agedashi Tofu
              Deep fried tofu in dashi broth. Not bad, though they used the hard/spongy tofu, which I like less.

              Okonomiyaki
              Deep fried japanese style pancake with tonkatsu sauce and mustard mayo. Not like the okonomiyaki's I've had in Osaka with noodles in it, this is a crispier pancake. Still, it was quite tasty. Nice to see this Osakan dish at Guu.

              Oden & Stewed (2/2)
              100% completion on this category. Both are interesting orders.

              Oden
              Egg, radish, squid & fish cake, puffed fish cake, deep fried tofu, bamboo shoot, fish cake, taro jelly. Can be ordered individually or as an assortment. Sort of meh, I did like the bamboo and taro jelly for tasting purposes.

              Kakuni
              Sweet miso brasied pork belly with boiled egg. While the Tontoro would be my pork pick out of the two, this was a slightly sweet and fatty pork that reminded me of Chinese braised pork belly.

              Grilled (4/8)
              Of the dishes we ordered, it was really good or just bad. Enjoyed the Gyu Tangue and the Tontoro. Both are re-orders in my book. The Kakimayo? Not so much (only according to me, though!).

              Grilled Saba
              mackerel with garlic, lemon, and herb, on vegetables. Thought this was okay - I prefer standard Korean preparation of mackerel better. Depends on your taste - this certainly wasn't bad.

              Gyu Tangue
              Grilled beef tongue with salt. Really nice and tender pieces. Salt level was just nice. Would re-order.

              Tontoro
              Grilled pork cheek with yuzu pepper. Really tender and tasty. Well salted and I really liked the yuzu pepper. I consider this a re-order!

              Kakimayo
              Grilled oysters with spinach, garlic mayo, and cheese on the top. If this sounds really bad to you, it does to me too. However, many of my dining companions liked this, but there were a couple of dissenters. Me, I thought this was a bit too odd for my tastes. One friend who doesn't like cooked oysters liked this basically because you couldn't taste the cooked oyster...

              Rice & Noodles (1/6)
              We slacked on the rice & noodle section.

              Kimchi Udon
              Boiled udon noodle with spicy cod roe. Topped with kimchi. Everyone else thought it was just okay, but I really liked this one. I just really liked the taste of the kimchi + noodle. Reminded me of a packet-of-ramen flavour.

              Sweets (1/4)
              Didn't have too many sweets, as we were really stuffed. Also, it's your run-of-the-mill Japanese restaurant desserts. Albeit, the one we did have was really good.

              Sake Cheese
              Cake Smooth and pretty good. I don't love cheese cakes, but the smoothness won me over. Had the subtle taste of sake mash.

              Frozen Grapes
              At the end of the meal, this was brought out to us. Reminded me of the skewers I had at Kingyo not too long ago.

              Drinks (8/15)
              Drinks seem very interesting on the menu and it was decided we should do our best to sample as much as we could. I didn't shoot many drinks, but highlights include the Cassis Oolong (not to be mistaken with the Oolong High!) and Bamboo (pictured up top). The Nama Gure (grapefruit/vodka/soda) was interesting, but more gimmick than substance. I enjoyed the Ume Mojito, but without the mint, I hesitate to call it a mojito. No one dared ordered the Matcha Coco. We'll have to save that for another time.

              Overall, I feel that this is a real destination dining place - the kind you go to for gatherings and events. Less your every-day eatery and definitely not your romantic date spot. While Izakaya is set up for beers and snacking, I'm not sure the area would lend itself to that kind of clientele (I would have opened in the business district for that). Still, this is just the beginning. I'm hoping we will see more dishes that dive into cartelidge and organ-meat land.

              --
              http//www.foodpr0n.com/ -- food. is. love.

              1. skylineR33 RE: BokChoi Dec 18, 2009 05:51 AM

                The drink menu for this Izakaya is bizarre and lacking.

                7 Replies
                1. re: skylineR33
                  aser RE: skylineR33 Dec 18, 2009 09:16 AM

                  Yes, it is a bit too heavy on the girly sugary drink. Do I wish they had more sake and shochu? Do I wish they had Asahi Black? Of course!

                  I'm willing to overlook that if the food is good. I am desperate for a proper izakaya in Toronto, so any step in the right direction will be much better than anything we currently have.

                  1. re: aser
                    jlunar RE: aser Dec 18, 2009 09:28 AM

                    It's a really big step in the right direction IMO. I don't know if it's really "proper" (my only other experience was Kingyo recently), but it's pretty good. I thought the dishes at Kingyo minimally better, but you know, Guu is juuuust opened and I think they'll be adding and tweaking to the menu as they go.

                    and yes, girly foo-foo drinks. I liked some of them though - the Cassis Oolong and Bamboo in particular, but .. uh.. tastes like candy... which is why I liked. So... caveat emptor and all that.

                    1. re: jlunar
                      a
                      armadillo01 RE: jlunar Dec 19, 2009 12:07 AM

                      Try KOYOI on Irwin off Yonge between Bloor and Wellesley.

                  2. re: skylineR33
                    Notorious P.I.G. RE: skylineR33 Dec 18, 2009 09:35 AM

                    Shochu and Sake in Ontario is bizarre and lacking.

                    1. re: Notorious P.I.G.
                      aser RE: Notorious P.I.G. Dec 18, 2009 09:59 AM

                      Let's hope they consult w/ Ozawa, Yamasho, Sakagura for more selection.

                      At the end of the day, it's not different than any restaurant in the city, using agents to procure wine to create a distinctive list, rather than relying on lcbo. It's standard practice and hopefully they'll look into it.

                      I will give them benefit of the doubt.

                      1. re: aser
                        Notorious P.I.G. RE: aser Dec 18, 2009 10:15 AM

                        Oh yeah, they've definitely got the angles covered as best they can.

                    2. re: grandgourmand
                      Notorious P.I.G. RE: grandgourmand Dec 18, 2009 10:16 AM

                      I'm pretty sure they're booked up all weekend. You can try to walk in but no guarantees.

                    3. p
                      Pincus RE: BokChoi Dec 18, 2009 09:14 AM

                      Thanks for the review, I now REALLY want to go as opposed to wanting to go.

                      1. Bobby Wham RE: BokChoi Dec 18, 2009 09:42 AM

                        MRRRRRAHHHHHHHHHHAAWWWWWWWW

                        1. d
                          derekw RE: BokChoi Dec 18, 2009 09:58 AM

                          great reviews! thanks

                          - approx. how much per person (excl. drinks)?
                          - do the waitstaff speak japanese?

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: derekw
                            jlunar RE: derekw Dec 18, 2009 10:20 AM

                            As far as I can tell, the waitstaff all speak Japanese (and are Japanese?). I get the feeling most of them are transplants from Vancouver, only because the whole ship ran really well. Mind you, there were a lot of waitstaff around, but everything went pretty smooth considering we went on soft-open (when we expect the most kinks).

                            I can only tell you how much we spent, which was $45pp (incl tax/tip) and that included a foo-foo drink and a shared pitcher of Sapporo. Dish-wise, it worked out to about 3 dishes a person.

                            1. re: jlunar
                              dlw88 RE: jlunar Dec 18, 2009 05:45 PM

                              Are you kidding me?

                              This is by far the best bar food I've ever tasted in this city!

                              $12 pitchers of Sapporo, and nothing on the menu reaches above $10.

                              This place is every bit a guud as any of it's Vancouver brethren. I was concerned about the quality of fresh fish, but was happily proven that Guu Toronto tastes equally as fresh and deliscious. Please, try the fried chicken, grilled tongue, eggplant, okonomiyaki...yadayadayada!

                              Guu is Japanese bar food. Please take it for what it is, and you will certainly not be disappointed.

                              1. re: dlw88
                                jlunar RE: dlw88 Dec 18, 2009 08:55 PM

                                I did try most of the dishes you mention, save the eggplant - they had eggplant?! I totally missed that on the menu and will try that next time. I thought the Amaebi was really good when I had it.

                                Hmn. I'm not sure where I gave the impression that this wasn't good food? Or good value?

                                1. re: jlunar
                                  dlw88 RE: jlunar Dec 18, 2009 09:21 PM

                                  Hey jlunar,

                                  Wasn't beating up on you. My response was simply to the thread in general, and my opening statement was more a representation of how mystified I was of the transplant as a whole. The owner, manager, and head chef have all come here from Vancouver.

                          2. w
                            whatstasty RE: BokChoi Dec 18, 2009 10:45 PM

                            That is a Fantastic Review, thank you! Great Pictures too! I'm going on Monday night so now i have an idea of a few dishes that i know i MUST have for sure...(pork belly and pork cheek for sure!) and i LOVE ebi so i'm So excited to have that as well. Thanks again BokChoi!

                            1. s
                              szw RE: BokChoi Dec 19, 2009 07:43 AM

                              Is it weird to go there and eat and not drink?

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: szw
                                grandgourmand RE: szw Dec 19, 2009 09:31 AM

                                No. Eat to your heart's content.

                              2. Tara9000 RE: BokChoi Dec 20, 2009 04:31 PM

                                I went on Saturday night with a friend and the place was absolutely rammed. I tried calling earlier to see if I could get a reservation, but it went straight to voicemail every time. We waited just over an hour and got sat at a table (which are communal style)... I was really hoping to sit at the bar, because you at least get some elbow room. I think the tables are supposed to comfortably sit 8 (4 on each side), but they packed 11 in on my table, and I saw another table of 14! Needless to say you become fast friends with strangers...

                                BokChoi and jlunar did a great job with the menu review, which made it easy to pick tasty dishes. Winning items for me were the tako wasabi, takoyaki, aburi salmon, kurage, tontoro (the little hot pepper paste served with it was amazing), beef carpaccio, and maguro tataki. "Okay" dishes for me were the agedashi tofu, fried chicken, tangue.

                                Specials of the night were an uni dish, and a pike dish that looked great (but didn't try). Sapporo is super cheap - $3 glasses of Sapporo, $7 "big mugs" (and they are big), and $11 pitchers.

                                I had 2 bottles of Ramune - a first for me, which I enjoyed, perhaps more for the novelty.

                                Many of the waitstaff have very limited English, but just roll with the chaotic energy of the room. I've never braved a restaurant open only 2 days before. The very last dish took forever to arrive, but other than that, there were no big hiccups.

                                Bill was $77 total with tax for 2 people, before tip. Everyone gets a loud Japanese thank you on the way out.

                                1. p
                                  Pigurd RE: BokChoi Dec 22, 2009 08:46 AM

                                  What are the hours for this place? does it open for lunch? not much info on it so far... or tha i can find...

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Pigurd
                                    jlunar RE: Pigurd Dec 22, 2009 09:57 AM

                                    I don't think it's open for lunch right now. Not sure if they will in the future. Best bet is to give the resto a call.

                                    1. re: jlunar
                                      c
                                      caffeinated RE: jlunar Dec 29, 2009 08:51 PM

                                      I asked one of the servers, and they are open from 5pm - midnight. My friend and I were originally told that our wait would be at least one hour, but it turned out to be only a 30 minute wait. Your best bet is to go with a smaller group. We overheard some groups saying that their wait would be 2 hours. There were a few people who ordered drinks and drank by the wall as they waited for a table.

                                      I agree with BokChoi, the vibe definitely reminded me of Ippudo in NY!

                                      The food was really good, and I love that the alcohol and food were so reasonably priced. There was no noticeable lag between the 6 dishes we ordered, and everything came out piping hot. My faves were the pork belly, black cod, and pumpkin croquette dishes. The typical dishes like the octopus balls, udon and karaage were done really well too. I would definitely go back!

                                  2. p
                                    piccola RE: BokChoi Dec 23, 2009 04:59 AM

                                    I haven't been to Guu -- it's part of the plan for the near future -- but I'm not thrilled at the thought of being greeted by "hoots and hollers."

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: piccola
                                      jlunar RE: piccola Dec 23, 2009 06:46 AM

                                      The hoots and hollers are just the staff shouting "irrasshaimase!" which is pretty standard in general. When leaving they shout their thanks in the same manner.

                                      They do this at Manpuku (and other shops) too, but... just not as loudly.

                                      --
                                      http://www.foodpr0n.com/ -- food. is. love.

                                      1. re: jlunar
                                        Teep RE: jlunar Dec 23, 2009 07:16 PM

                                        I'm put off by the communal tables...

                                        1. re: Teep
                                          jlunar RE: Teep Dec 23, 2009 08:04 PM

                                          It's all about the Bar seats. And there are some non-communal tables - just not many.

                                        2. re: jlunar
                                          p
                                          piccola RE: jlunar Dec 24, 2009 06:47 PM

                                          Ah, OK. That doesn't sound so bad.

                                        3. re: piccola
                                          i
                                          igk RE: piccola Dec 31, 2009 01:40 PM

                                          "hoots and hollers." is actually being very polite and welcoming you to the restaurant. This is quite common in most restaurants when I was traveling in Japan.

                                        4. e
                                          eatereater123 RE: BokChoi Dec 26, 2009 06:39 PM

                                          Ate there last Monday, arriving at 6.15pm and just barely got two bar stools. I highly recommend a reservation which doesn't guarantee you a private table, it guarantees that your wait is shorter.

                                          That said, they hold only a certain number of seats/tables for reservations, and the rest are first come first serve. The reason why your calls are going to vm is because they've taken as many reservations as they can for the night. And when you get there and see the chaos, I'm surprised they can even hear the phone ringing.

                                          1. c
                                            canadianbeaver RE: BokChoi Dec 28, 2009 05:34 AM

                                            Got a chance to go yesterday. Arrived at 5:30ish, got seated at the bar. By 6 o'clock, the line-up snaked all the way the back of the restaurant. I didn't notice any hooting or hollering our way, it was mostly like Lick's, where they seemed to be yelling just in general. Of course, they could have been yelling at me, but it was in Japanese, so I didn't know what they were saying. I got the Bamboo drink (delicious, tasted like lychee) and my eating companion got the Cassis Oolong, which he was disappointed in (said it was too weak in terms of cassis flavour).

                                            We got two orders off of the specials menu, the BC Tuna with avocado and the deep fried eggplant. Both good, although the eggplant didn't appear to be deep fried to me. We had the calamari (both of us liked it the most of all the dishes), pork cheek and beef short ribs. Everything was delicious, served extremely quickly (all 5 dishes came at once within 10 minutes). Although they had a line-up, they didn't rush us at all (2 hour seating limit).

                                            The bathrooms were awesome, they had toothpicks and mouthwash for your dating convenience.

                                            There is a parking lot out in front, so don't pay for parking like we did. I will definitely be back.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: canadianbeaver
                                              c
                                              canadianbeaver RE: canadianbeaver Dec 31, 2009 06:09 AM

                                              Went again yesterday. Got there at 5 p.m. and they hadn't opened the doors yet; there was a line up outside the restaurant already! Waited about 10 minutes outside. You could peer through the little windows on the wall and see they were getting a debriefing/pep talk from someone. I ordered much better this time, after really studying these reviews. We started with the Takowasabi and the shrimp sashimi. The Takowasabi was out of this world, and my dining companion's favourite dish. We then had the Grilled Saba (delicious), the Salmon Natto (which was my favourite dish, but my companion didn't like the Natto texture), and the calamari. We finished with the banana tempura, which was nice but not really worth the money. Overall, a great experience again.

                                            2. dlw88 RE: BokChoi Dec 28, 2009 01:13 PM

                                              My update...

                                              I've been 5 times now, but the frequency of my visits will likely slow down soon. I still love the place for what it is.

                                              The food has remained consistent. The eggplant on the specials menu was hot and fried the first few times I visited, but is now served cold with no outer batter. It's not as good as its former self, but still quite tasty. My favourites, now that I've had everything at least once, would have to be the beef udon, pork cheek, and natto salmon. Most of the sashimi or seared fish dishes are a must, and the ebi and uni are always tasting fresh.

                                              Sadly, the drink specials are now off the menu. The introductory $12 pitcher and $7.50 litre of Sapporo is now back to regular price.

                                              1. hippotatomus RE: BokChoi Dec 29, 2009 07:49 PM

                                                I just went and I highly, highly, HIGHLY recommend the Kinoko Cheese Bibimbap!!!! It was SOOOO good. It's a bibimbap with mushroom and seaweed sauce plus shredded cheese in a stone pot... and though it doesn't sound too special and as complex as other items on the menu.. but the combination was just SOO good. This was the highlight of the meal for me and my friend, we ordered 9 items with a few of the mentioned favourites of the other posters on this board.. it was that good!! We almost ordered another one before leaving but didn't want to become fat pigs.. (so we settled on the takoyaki :P)

                                                I can't wait to go back and order it again!!! Definitely make sure you order the kinoko cheese bibimbap.. it's really not to miss!

                                                1. g
                                                  Gary RE: BokChoi Dec 30, 2009 04:36 PM

                                                  Finally made it! Guu definitely lives up to the hype. By 6pm the lineup along the wall was starting to grow, but I'm not sure how much of that has to do with the fact that a lot of people are still on holiday vacation this week and out socializing. Hope it calms down a bit in the new year as I'd like to go again. My party unanimously enjoyed all the dishes we tried -- deep fried eggplant, fried chicken, daikon salad, okonomayaki and beef short ribs are the ones I can remember off the top of my head. The pork belly dish was also a stand-out, definitely don't miss that.

                                                  The atmosphere and energy was totally unique for Toronto, definitely one of the louder more enthusiastic restaurants I've been to for a while. They did mention a "two hour limit" for dining at the door when we arrived, I guess they want want to capitalize on the crowds and turn over the tables a few times. I don't blame them, but it does sort of put a kink in any plans to come early and spend the evening grazing and drinking.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: Gary
                                                    a
                                                    amy_whino RE: Gary Jan 3, 2010 06:56 AM

                                                    Based on all of the positive reviews, my SO and I went to Guu last night (Saturday) at about 8 pm. I knew we would have to wait for a table, especially on Saturday night, but I wasn't anticipating the wait to be an hour and 40 minutes.

                                                    I agree with all of the posters - the food was very good, especially for the price point (7 dishes + 2 beer+ 15% tip ~ $80). I wish I read the reviews more closely -the tofu salad - meh! Standouts were the grilled saba, the eggplant special (sauteed with garlic and onions), and the tako wasabi.

                                                    That said, I have to be the lone dissenter here - it was NOT worth the hour and 40 minute wait. Given the long waits, I won't be rushing back to Guu anytime soon. I guess that's one less person everyone else will have to contend with in line!

                                                    1. re: Gary
                                                      grandgourmand RE: Gary Jan 3, 2010 07:26 AM

                                                      Well, hopefully, they open another location. There are three in Vancouver. Or someone recognizes that Torontonians want good izakaya and an alternative opens up. There's definitely room for more.

                                                    2. Tara9000 RE: BokChoi Dec 31, 2009 01:06 PM

                                                      Does anyone know if Guu is open New Year's Day?

                                                      1. Platoputas RE: BokChoi Jan 6, 2010 12:05 PM

                                                        I was in Vancouver last month and went to Guu in Gastown, which I was told is the best of the Vancouver locations, so I was ecstatic to learn that it was opening in Toronto as well.

                                                        Thanks for such a great and informative post, BokChoi. It helped us choose what we wanted to eat when we for the first time.

                                                        My biggest piece of advice is to arrive sometime between 5-5:30 pm or after 9 pm. We got there right at 6 pm, and for a party of 5, the wait was very close to an hour. We noticed people who arrived 15 minutes after us were still waiting 90 minutes later.

                                                        We indulged in Kinoko Cheese Bibimbap, Marguro Tataki, Karaage (fried chicken), Daikon Salad, Gomaae, Aburi Salmon, Kakimayo (grilled oysters), Yakiudon, Kimchi Udon, Salmon Natto Yukke and ended it all off with Banana Tempura.

                                                        Feel free to check out our write-up with pictures of each dish: http://platoputas.wordpress.com/2010/...

                                                        The meal was delicious and considering the amount of food we ate (we had at least 5 more dishes that I didn't list and we ate for over 2 hours), it was a reasonable dinner out. Two people in the party had alcoholic beverages yet it still averaged out to $30 per person including tax and tip. I'm ecstatic to finally have a good izakaya in Toronto. Now, let's do something about our ramen situation.

                                                        -----
                                                        Guu
                                                        398 Church Street, Toronto, ON M5B 2A2, CA

                                                        1. Teep RE: BokChoi Jan 7, 2010 06:17 AM

                                                          Are all the Vancouver locations as busy? i.e. lined up before they're open or more than 1 hours wait? (Should I wait to see if it gets less crazy, as my DC has no patience to wait in line no matter how good the food is)

                                                          16 Replies
                                                          1. re: Teep
                                                            grandgourmand RE: Teep Jan 7, 2010 06:27 AM

                                                            I've only been to one in Vancouver, but when I did, there was a lineup before 5pm. then again, it was only there because the doors hadn't opened yet and there was enough seating to accomodate the lineup.

                                                            I'm going to test Platoputas rec and go after 9pm one time.

                                                            1. re: grandgourmand
                                                              Splendid Wine Snob RE: grandgourmand Jan 7, 2010 08:35 AM

                                                              I really want to check this place out but I'm with Teep's DC-I refuse to wait in line for anything, I don't care how good it is.

                                                              Can anyone clarify if the wait times are less during the week as a lot of posters seem to be dining there on a Saturday. I never eat out on the weekends, so I'm wondering if I have a better chance of slipping in on a weeknight?

                                                              1. re: Splendid Wine Snob
                                                                c
                                                                canadianbeaver RE: Splendid Wine Snob Jan 7, 2010 08:40 AM

                                                                I went on a Wednesday at 5 p.m. and there was a line-up already -- and at 5:45 there was a huge line-up. The other time I went was a Sunday and the same thing.

                                                                1. re: Splendid Wine Snob
                                                                  TorontoJo RE: Splendid Wine Snob Jan 7, 2010 08:45 AM

                                                                  They take reservations during the week. I don't know if it's only for larger groups, though. Will report back after dinner tonight.

                                                                  1. re: TorontoJo
                                                                    y
                                                                    Yum2MyTum RE: TorontoJo Jan 7, 2010 09:58 AM

                                                                    TorontoJo, when I called for a reservation on Monday for yesterday, I was told they don't take reservations at all. I was advised to show up at 5, or at 9. So I went somewhere else...

                                                                    1. re: Yum2MyTum
                                                                      TorontoJo RE: Yum2MyTum Jan 7, 2010 10:20 AM

                                                                      Oh dear. Well, we theoretically have a reservation for 8 people for this evening! I guess we'll find out soon enough.

                                                                      1. re: Yum2MyTum
                                                                        TorontoJo RE: Yum2MyTum Jan 8, 2010 04:50 AM

                                                                        So Guu indeed does NOT take reservations any more. Our group made a reservation before Christmas, when they were still taking reservations during the week and they were good enough to honour the reservation.

                                                                        And just to echo what everyone has already said above -- LOVE this place. Our group of 7 ordered just about everything on the menu and most of the specials, leaving out just a few of the more pedestrian options like miso soup, edammame, oshinko, etc. and happily ate and drank sake for almost 3 hours. Some of the highlights for us (and some of the things that we ordered seconds of!) were:

                                                                        - gomaae
                                                                        - salmon natto
                                                                        - tako wasabi
                                                                        - karaage
                                                                        - both of the scallop dishes (the sashimi from the menu and the grilled from the specials)
                                                                        - agedashi tofu
                                                                        - amaebi
                                                                        - and probably the favourite of the night -- the stewed pork belly!

                                                                        The place has a great vibe and is a lot of fun, but if you haven't gone, the one thing to keep in mind is that you are going to a bar that serves food, not a traditional restaurant. So set your service expectations accordingly. Don't get me wrong, the servers are all super nice and very, very accommodating, but you have to get good at catching someone's eye or flagging someone down if you want something (though our server was great about refilling our water invisibly). It's all good.

                                                                        We'll be back, though it will be either early or late, as I can't see waiting an hour for a table while lined up against the wall.

                                                                        1. re: TorontoJo
                                                                          y
                                                                          Yum2MyTum RE: TorontoJo Jan 8, 2010 05:07 AM

                                                                          Oh dear. No reservations means I likely won't be able to try this place out until I get a day off from work (like THAT'S going to happen)... thanks for all the reviews, BokChoi, JLunar, TorontoJo, et al! I'll feast vicariously through you... for now.

                                                                          1. re: TorontoJo
                                                                            b
                                                                            bytepusher RE: TorontoJo Jan 8, 2010 05:49 AM

                                                                            No reservations is one thing, but not doing the now standard "we'll take your cell and call you, don't go too far" thing is inexcusable. Having to hang in line for an hour or more just isn't on, it's also not particularly enjoyable for the people in there who have people from the lineup breathing down their necks.

                                                                            1. re: TorontoJo
                                                                              Jacquilynne RE: TorontoJo Jan 8, 2010 06:23 AM

                                                                              I arrived late to our little outing to Guu and missed the ordering, so I have less idea than usual what the Japanese names were for any of the things I ate, but I will say that I loved the fried chicken (and will not tell my trainer about fried chicken with mayo, because the number of walking lunges that would result in would kill me), the tofu in broth (which may have been the agedashi tofu?) and the spinach in black sesame paste.

                                                                              I liked almost everything else, too, with the possible exception of the fried calamari with the BBQ like sauce on it.

                                                                              I've had better preparations of black cod at Guu in Vancouver. I was also a little disappointed that the brie seemed a little underdone, so while it was still okay, it lacked the ooey-gooey richness that makes it so great.

                                                                              I also want to comment on how much *fun* it is to go to Guu, especially if you let yourself get caught up in the 'this is a friendly bar' atmosphere. Say hello and goodbye to people as they arrive and depart, even if you don't know them, or the Japanese words people are saying. Chat with your waitress. We were greeting some especially welcome dishes with "Yay!" and applause, and the staff thought that was great.

                                                                              This isn't fine dining, and you can't go in expecting the service to be note perfect (we got the wrong dish a couple of times), but the staff is incredibly cheerful and accommodating and willing to work to get you what you want, and I'll take that over more somber but error-free service any day.

                                                                              -----
                                                                              Guu
                                                                              398 Church Street, Toronto, ON M5B 2A2, CA

                                                                              1. re: TorontoJo
                                                                                c
                                                                                canadianbeaver RE: TorontoJo Jan 8, 2010 06:32 AM

                                                                                I thought there was a 2 hour seating limit?

                                                                                1. re: canadianbeaver
                                                                                  TorontoJo RE: canadianbeaver Jan 8, 2010 06:49 AM

                                                                                  I'm guessing they let us stay longer for two reasons. One was that by our 2-hour mark, there wasn't that long of a line up. And two was we weren't just lingering over tea -- we were ordering and eating the entire time we were there, so they were probably ok with us continuing that trend. We ended up having 3 or 4 rounds of ordering, usually going something like this: "We'll take everything on this page, except for this and this. Oh, and make it two orders of that and that." I think they were pretty amused.

                                                                                  1. re: TorontoJo
                                                                                    haggisdragon RE: TorontoJo Jan 8, 2010 08:41 AM

                                                                                    I was there with some friends last night. We had a great fun time, ordered many dishes and a lot of beer and shochu. I was wondering if there might be some other hounds in the room.

                                                                                    1. re: haggisdragon
                                                                                      hippotatomus RE: haggisdragon Jan 8, 2010 02:43 PM

                                                                                      I was there last night! =P

                                                                                      I am sure there probably are hounds there every night.. been there three times now and it's always busy.

                                                                                      I also tried the brie cheese this time. It was really, really heavy. If you only have a group of three (which was true in my case) then it's a much too heavy dish to share between 3 people. You get four pieces of fried cheese.. and they're not small pieces either. It's like eating an entire small disk of brie. For the most part I thought it was interesting... but order it with large groups or else you won't be able to finish your meal!

                                                                                      1. re: hippotatomus
                                                                                        TorontoJo RE: hippotatomus Jan 8, 2010 03:04 PM

                                                                                        We were the group who kept waving and yelling "bye!" as people left the restaurant. We also yelled "gochisou sama deshita!" (the meal was delicious!) as we were leaving. Would have been nice to meet some other hounds. :)

                                                                                2. re: TorontoJo
                                                                                  f
                                                                                  fickle RE: TorontoJo Jan 8, 2010 01:42 PM

                                                                                  We'll need to triple our order for gomaae the next time we go. It was definitely the highlight of the evening for me. I was also impressed that out of everything we ordered (the entire menu minus 12 items-wow, that's crazy even thinking about it today) that there were only 2 dishes that were weak (the calamari Jacquilynne mentioned above and the okonomiyaki pancake) out of the whole bunch. The first bottle of sake we ordered wasn't cold enough so we made sure to chilled the following bottles long enough in the bucket of ice first before consuming. Other than that I would say the evening met all of my expectations. Looking forward to returning. Real soon.

                                                                      2. jlunar RE: BokChoi Jan 9, 2010 09:00 PM

                                                                        Right, so 9:30 on Saturday night? Don't do it. We were on page 2 for waitlist. Buhhh.... We opted not to wait and ordered from Suko Thai instead...

                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: jlunar
                                                                          b
                                                                          blinknoodle RE: jlunar Jan 10, 2010 06:02 AM

                                                                          You also need to be there early on a Saturday night.. we arrived at 4:50 and had great seats. Stayed until 8pm. People who arrived at 5:15pm already didn't have seats and had to wait 2 hours.

                                                                          Some highlights for me:
                                                                          -Kakuni (a bit fatty but incredibly tasty)
                                                                          -Salmon natto
                                                                          -Aburi salmon
                                                                          -Takoyaki (cheaper than Kenzo's which is my Toronto go-to)
                                                                          -Kinoko Cheese Bibimbap (my friends said it was better than what they had in Korea)
                                                                          -Gomaae
                                                                          -Brie Tempura (I thought it had too much tempura, but what could be wrong with melty brie?) I wish there was more mango and blueberry sauce, though

                                                                          We ordered 15 dishes with 4 people, without drinks, came to $110+tip. Definitely filling.

                                                                          Definitely not worth a 2 hour wait, but nice if you arrive early and get an individual table. I think it would be awkward to be at a communal table and have the people in the line watch you eat.

                                                                          Of note, we were in the far north-west corner of the building and found it to be cold. Our toes were cold even after being seated for 2 hours.

                                                                          -----
                                                                          Kenzo
                                                                          138 Dundas St. W., Toronto, ON , CA

                                                                          Guu
                                                                          398 Church Street, Toronto, ON M5B 2A2, CA

                                                                          1. re: blinknoodle
                                                                            g
                                                                            ggom1 RE: blinknoodle Jan 10, 2010 03:53 PM

                                                                            I was there at the same time as blinknoodle, with a group of five. We were sitting in the slightly raised area right next to the door. It was really cold but after a while our waitress suddenly started passing out blankets, which definitely helped.

                                                                            I think we had 13 dishes and a couple drinks but were all still kind of hungry after and decided to have dessert elsewhere. The Kinoko Cheese Bibimbap was a big hit with our table since none of us quite knew what to expect. Overall we had a lot of similar dishes to everyone else - I think for us, the Kabocha Korokke was a bit puzzling and no one loved it, the Oshinko was okay but quite lightly pickled and the Agedashi tofu was so-so. The Kakuni got a much bigger thumbs-up than the Tontoro but we really liked most of the dishes.

                                                                            Out of curiosity, how fast has everyone been receiving their orders? We had a mixed experience and I'm not sure if we were unlucky or if it's normal for a group of our size. Our dishes were pretty much all coming one at a time, and sometimes we had a really long wait before the next dish arrived. I'd return to Guu, but if group orders are always that slow, next time I'm only going with only one or two people, max.

                                                                          2. re: jlunar
                                                                            c
                                                                            chalenegirl RE: jlunar Feb 18, 2010 05:39 AM

                                                                            mmmmm Sukho Thai....

                                                                          3. genie81 RE: BokChoi Jan 25, 2010 04:59 AM

                                                                            Thanks for the detailed review and pics. I definitely have to go check it out!

                                                                            1. BokChoi RE: BokChoi Jan 26, 2010 07:02 AM

                                                                              Thanks for all the feedback everyone! I still haven't tried a bunch of dishes, but I managed to head back and try some new ones. I thought I'd post a few more pics and give a few more descriptions for those 'living vicariously through' me ;).

                                                                              It's taken me a while to home and load up everything. Sorry, I'm falling terribly behind. Anyway, this was from a meal back at the end of December/early January:

                                                                              I had to order my favourite dish again; the fresh shrimp sashimi. Absolutely delicious again. Don't forget to suck out the head juice ;)
                                                                              Shrimp: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

                                                                              DC got the house mojito, that's made with their special brand ramune. It was cute, and DC enjoyed it.
                                                                              Ramune Mojito: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

                                                                              Fried chicken is shrinking (already!). But it was still fabulous. A real steal when you figure you can't really get anything this good around Toronto (for that cheap). Still, it's the only thing that can compare to a fried chicken I had at Jean Georges' Perry St resto
                                                                              Fried Chicken: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

                                                                              Here's the resto being ridiculously packed: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

                                                                              Agedashi tofu usually makes me happy. But this sad little fella was sitting in his soup too long before I got to it. I'm not sure if it's the fault of the server bringing it a bit after it was sitting on the bar, or if I took too many photos (probably a combo), but it was soggy. The 'crust' of the tofu was much thinner and more delicate this time though, which was an improvement over my first visit. But the texture was so wrong (soggy). I was sad. Either way, I believe they used way too much sauce in this dish. My thoughts? Why not put the sauce on the side and add it at the table? GENIUS if you ask me ;

                                                                              )

                                                                              Agedashi tofu: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

                                                                              Grilled Ika was a failure for me though. The squid was bland and the char-marks were weak and it didn't have any of the char flavour. I was pretty disappointed with this dish. The texture wasn't optimal either (for my tastes), a bit too rubbery. I wouldn't recommend it
                                                                              Grilled Ika: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

                                                                              Tongue salad again. I have to order this every time. This is when the grilling makes a huge difference.
                                                                              Tongue: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

                                                                              Mackerel done on the 'teet ban' is another one of my favourites and it was standout again this time: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

                                                                              Octowasabi dish was another standout and favourite of mine: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

                                                                              Grilled mackerel was nice, but I would have to say it wasn't standout and not really worth its space in my stomach. I wouldn't recommend it, unless you love Mackerel (I do love Mackerel, but this one did nothing for me). I liked the presentation with the back bone though. It was quite artistic
                                                                              Mackerel: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

                                                                              Delicious was the eggplant special. It was supposedly 'fried', and like the other Chowhound posters on the board, I noted there was no batter and didn't really appear to be fried. They could have fooled me. It was delicate and extremely sweet and well prepared though. And for that reason, I would recommend it. As a 'fried eggplant' dish? I think it would fail. As a 'dish' - score.
                                                                              Eggplant: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

                                                                              Overall, I'm still very much indeed impressed with Guu. I can't wait for my next visit. It'll have to be with different dining companions though, because the ones I went with last time weren't impressed in the least and complained about price and portion sizing. To each their own, I guess! We had to head to V2 afterward to 'fill up' on noodles, well I was full, but they had to prove their point I guess.

                                                                              Cheers and Happy Eating!
                                                                              BokChoi

                                                                              10 Replies
                                                                              1. re: BokChoi
                                                                                pinstripeprincess RE: BokChoi Jan 26, 2010 07:10 AM

                                                                                i didn't find the shrimp to be terribly fresh, it definitely had a bit of age to it in the flavour.

                                                                                they graciously fried up the heads for us when they had a moment of peace in the kitchen. a rare thing.

                                                                                1. re: pinstripeprincess
                                                                                  skylineR33 RE: pinstripeprincess Jan 26, 2010 07:27 AM

                                                                                  Inatei fried up the heads every time, and the prawn there looks much fresher and bigger than the one in the picture.

                                                                                  1. re: skylineR33
                                                                                    pinstripeprincess RE: skylineR33 Jan 26, 2010 08:31 AM

                                                                                    i meant that it was rare for the kitchen to have a moment of peace. i'm accustomed to japanese restaurants frying up the head and am surprised when they don't.

                                                                                    the ones received at guu are more like amaebi... so yes, on the tiny side.

                                                                                    1. re: pinstripeprincess
                                                                                      m
                                                                                      millygirl RE: pinstripeprincess Jan 26, 2010 10:07 AM

                                                                                      From bokchoi's pictures, the place looks really cramped, not just crowded . As in uncomfortable. Am I right in that regard? It seems the coat rack is stuck in the middle of the room? Seems odd to me. Did they not consider that in their design?

                                                                                      1. re: millygirl
                                                                                        pinstripeprincess RE: millygirl Jan 26, 2010 10:53 AM

                                                                                        it is cramped. the room is optimized for number of seats and not so much customer comfort. the benches are hard and narrow and a dining companion has complained of a back ache since we went (3 weeks ago and only now recovering).

                                                                                        the coat rack is virtually in the entrance way and oddly enough it is the best location for it considering the proximity of everything else. but it likely wasn't high on the list of concerns in their design. on the flip side there is a reasonably large patio for the summer. i would suggest a thin coat and minimal purse so you can tuck it onto the shelf under the benches.

                                                                                        the boisterousness is fun if you're in the mood for it because there's really no escape from it.

                                                                                        1. re: pinstripeprincess
                                                                                          m
                                                                                          millygirl RE: pinstripeprincess Jan 26, 2010 10:59 AM

                                                                                          Thanks for the info pp. Boisterous I can handle, and enjoy for the most part. Cramped and uncomfortable, hard benches not so much. I guess I'm getting old. Not sure that this is the spot for me.

                                                                                          1. re: millygirl
                                                                                            pinstripeprincess RE: millygirl Jan 26, 2010 11:23 AM

                                                                                            i haven't sat at the bar yet, but perhaps that might be worth a try. it seemed like there was more space per person but they still have solid wood stools.

                                                                                            1. re: pinstripeprincess
                                                                                              jlunar RE: pinstripeprincess Jan 26, 2010 12:32 PM

                                                                                              The stools are no more comfortable. Also, don't wear nylons or lycra. They'll snag. :(

                                                                                              1. re: pinstripeprincess
                                                                                                aser RE: pinstripeprincess Jan 26, 2010 05:54 PM

                                                                                                It gets very drafty if you sit at the bar, the kitchen ventilation system is kicking.

                                                                                                I think people have to temper their expectations here w/ seating. Izakayas are often cramped and boisterous.

                                                                                                The wait is atrocious though, there is no denying that.

                                                                                              2. re: millygirl
                                                                                                BokChoi RE: millygirl Jan 26, 2010 12:54 PM

                                                                                                I didn't find the seating cramped or uncomfortable on either one of my visits, millygirl. I was fortunate enough to have a private table, and bar seating experiences though. As well, I'm not one to ever need the back of a chair, so sitting on backless seats is really never a problem. Perhaps you could request/wait for a table in the back corner - it's less jam-packed there.

                                                                                  2. p
                                                                                    peppermint pate RE: BokChoi Jan 26, 2010 01:29 PM

                                                                                    I don't have a lot to add to the many incredible reviews and pics that precede my post (ah Bok Choi, your posts always make me smile and drool) but as one of the original Guu Toronto advocates, I must say that I'm thrilled they've arrived. I've only gotten in once, the week after they opened, and I *LOVED* it. There is no place like it in the city - totally incredible vibe, really fun, crowded (in a good way - once you get in, that is), hip, friendly but above all, delicious/colourful/fun food. It's maybe not yet quite as good as Guu on Robson but it's definitely in that range.

                                                                                    Millygirl - don't be put off by the cramped and crowded comments. It works, it really does.

                                                                                    The line ups definitely suck. I've tried to go the past 2 Saturday nights on the earlier end but even around 6, the line up is already up to an hour or so and we didn't have time to wait (they now have heat lamps and it's so odd as the crowd gathers outside, huddling for warmth, while the poor Pakistani restaurant next door looks sooo lonely with barely a single patron inside). Thankfully, like jlunar, I ended up going to nearby favourite Sukhothai - a very different vibe but still a very chow-worthy consolation prize. I'm looking forward to the initial insanity dying down because on most evenings, I just don't have the window to manage that kind of a wait. I read somewhere that they're already scouting a second location - anyone know where?

                                                                                    For me, the Toronto dining scene (which has generally become much more exciting in the past few years, in my opinion) took a GIANT and fun step forward with Guu. It's totally unique and it rocks.

                                                                                    1. shekamoo RE: BokChoi Feb 4, 2010 05:00 PM

                                                                                      so, we, a party of 10, on a weekend night, must figure waiting at least an hour in the cold?

                                                                                      12 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: shekamoo
                                                                                        BokChoi RE: shekamoo Feb 4, 2010 06:25 PM

                                                                                        Good luck! It might be easier if you guys decide to split up if possible. Go early (or late).

                                                                                        1. re: shekamoo
                                                                                          pinstripeprincess RE: shekamoo Feb 5, 2010 06:24 AM

                                                                                          probably more... the largest tables seat about 10.. maybe 12 if you really push it or are fine being squeezed with no elbow space. which means that you'd need a bit of luck for a whole table to clear at the same time (with most diners going in groups of likely 2-4 and max 6 sharing tables). i'd suggest going really late, 9pm or so, and giving them a call to see what they suggest or be willing to break into two groups.

                                                                                          1. re: pinstripeprincess
                                                                                            a
                                                                                            ace123 RE: pinstripeprincess Feb 6, 2010 05:06 AM

                                                                                            Do most individual tables there seat 2, 4, 6 or 8 people? I want to go with the right size group so the wait won't be too long.

                                                                                            1. re: ace123
                                                                                              p
                                                                                              peppermint pate RE: ace123 Feb 6, 2010 06:06 AM

                                                                                              If I recall, the main dining area has mostly tables that fit 8 or 10 - but I think they double up parties to do communal seating at these tables (that's how Guu in Vancouver does it). There are a bunch of seats at the bar (great for singles or doubles) and I think there are also some 2-tops or smaller tables along the one side. At this stage, I would say the smaller the group, the shorter the wait as you can sit pretty much sit in any configuration - but even then, you're likely to wait an hour anyway unless you try and go for 5:00 or after 9.

                                                                                              1. re: peppermint pate
                                                                                                grandgourmand RE: peppermint pate Feb 6, 2010 06:46 AM

                                                                                                5pm on a weekday. We went last night (Friday) for 5pm, and there was already a lineup. Moreover, once they opened, they only let people in one group at a time, about 5 minutes between groups. Really weird, and annoying. But, I can see their issue. Rather than get slammed right off the bat, they pace the orders for the kitchen. They`d rather have people annoyed and waiting for a table than annoyed at the table because dishes don`t come out fast enough.

                                                                                              2. re: ace123
                                                                                                pinstripeprincess RE: ace123 Feb 6, 2010 11:24 AM

                                                                                                pretty much what peppermint pate has said... most tables are for 8-10ppl and the others are perhaps 6. don't recall any 2 tops though i can imagine one single location where it could go. the bar seems to fit 4 along one side, 6 along another, and i think 3 or 4 on the third side.

                                                                                                all seats are always taken when they're busy, if you don't like to share tables then you'll have an even harder time getting a seat there. ideally you go with the fewest or closest to average number so that when a group gets up to leave you'll just replace them perfectly.

                                                                                                1. re: pinstripeprincess
                                                                                                  m
                                                                                                  morefoodplz RE: pinstripeprincess Feb 6, 2010 01:44 PM

                                                                                                  I waited an hour for a table for two, on a night when a party had shown up for a table for 20 on a Friday night. Am I crazy to think that if you want to have a meal for 20, you should probably book a private room, or at least go with a place that takes reservations?

                                                                                                  1. re: morefoodplz
                                                                                                    shekamoo RE: morefoodplz Feb 6, 2010 01:47 PM

                                                                                                    what if you wanna go to GUU?

                                                                                                    1. re: shekamoo
                                                                                                      m
                                                                                                      morefoodplz RE: shekamoo Feb 6, 2010 01:55 PM

                                                                                                      I'm convinced that any operation involving the opinions of 20 people can't possibly be that attached to any one restaurant. Anyhow, I was lucky to get into Guu before the party of 20, since it was below -20 out.

                                                                                                  2. re: pinstripeprincess
                                                                                                    a
                                                                                                    ace123 RE: pinstripeprincess Feb 6, 2010 06:16 PM

                                                                                                    Thanks, peppermint pate & pinstripeprincess. I'm thinking of a back up resto just in case the lineup is long & we don't want to stay outside when it's -20c.

                                                                                                    1. re: pinstripeprincess
                                                                                                      g
                                                                                                      ggom1 RE: pinstripeprincess Feb 7, 2010 10:06 AM

                                                                                                      There are definitely 2 tops, they're in the slightly elevated area which is to the right of the entrance door. We were seated up there as a group of 5, and I think all of the tables there might actually be 2 tops (we had 2 x 2 tops pushed together as our table).

                                                                                                      1. re: ggom1
                                                                                                        pinstripeprincess RE: ggom1 Feb 7, 2010 05:41 PM

                                                                                                        hrm... i guess when i've seen they were always pushed all together in rows.

                                                                                              3. Bobby Wham RE: BokChoi Feb 8, 2010 08:24 AM

                                                                                                Anyone know where you can buy those big Sapporo mugs?

                                                                                                1. c
                                                                                                  CarNut RE: BokChoi Feb 17, 2010 04:45 AM

                                                                                                  I heard this morning that Guu wants to open three more locations in Toronto this year. They are looking for sites in the financial core, Yonge and Sheppard, and King and Spadina.

                                                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: CarNut
                                                                                                    p
                                                                                                    peppermint pate RE: CarNut Feb 17, 2010 07:29 AM

                                                                                                    Wow, ambitious plans. Locations all make sense. I can't imagine they'd open in the financial core without opening for lunch as well - that would be great. I'm all for any initiative that will shorten those line-ups.

                                                                                                    1. re: CarNut
                                                                                                      mogo RE: CarNut Feb 17, 2010 07:49 AM

                                                                                                      Awesome news! I, for one, welcome our new Guu-y overlords.

                                                                                                      1. re: CarNut
                                                                                                        jlunar RE: CarNut Feb 17, 2010 10:12 AM

                                                                                                        unsurprising (I'd hoped they'd open more and in the financial core) but three in a year!? whoa.

                                                                                                        1. re: CarNut
                                                                                                          p
                                                                                                          Pincus RE: CarNut Feb 17, 2010 11:50 AM

                                                                                                          Hopefully they don't overextend themselves and kill the experience.

                                                                                                          1. re: CarNut
                                                                                                            MeXx RE: CarNut Feb 17, 2010 08:46 PM

                                                                                                            Risky, but would be nice to have one in the 'burbs :)

                                                                                                            I don't know how long it took them to get so many locations in Vancouver, or maybe it's a Vancouver thing to expand quick in Toronto (T&T supermarket comes to mind when they expanded to many locations very quickly).

                                                                                                            1. re: MeXx
                                                                                                              mmmduck RE: MeXx Mar 1, 2010 07:48 AM

                                                                                                              Ate there last night . While the food was good, I left slightly hungry. I think we were all satisfied but I could have eaten quite a few more dishes . We only ended up spending 30 dollars a person. I guess we should have spent the 45/per person mark but we didn't think we'd have to spend that much to get full. Lesson learned.

                                                                                                          2. g
                                                                                                            gingerpepper RE: BokChoi Mar 2, 2010 08:00 AM

                                                                                                            I went to GUU twice in the past two weeks. Very disappoint with the quality of the food.
                                                                                                            A few of the dishes I had are ready-made supplied by a Japanese trading firm. How could they do that! Prices of their sakes are very reasonable.

                                                                                                            18 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: gingerpepper
                                                                                                              c
                                                                                                              chalenegirl RE: gingerpepper Mar 4, 2010 05:03 AM

                                                                                                              are the line-ups still long? low long was the wait?

                                                                                                              1. re: gingerpepper
                                                                                                                s
                                                                                                                sbug206 RE: gingerpepper Mar 4, 2010 08:07 AM

                                                                                                                Which dishes??

                                                                                                                1. re: gingerpepper
                                                                                                                  Bobby Wham RE: gingerpepper Mar 4, 2010 08:52 AM

                                                                                                                  yeah which dishes are "ready made"? please elaborate, and what were you disappointed with?

                                                                                                                  1. re: Bobby Wham
                                                                                                                    jlunar RE: Bobby Wham Mar 4, 2010 10:20 AM

                                                                                                                    I believe the Takowasabi is ready-made. Not positive about that though. And I still like it, so ...

                                                                                                                    1. re: jlunar
                                                                                                                      g
                                                                                                                      gingerpepper RE: jlunar Mar 5, 2010 08:43 AM

                                                                                                                      Takowasabi, Okonomiyaki, Takoyaki, and Kaki Fry.

                                                                                                                      1. re: gingerpepper
                                                                                                                        aser RE: gingerpepper Mar 5, 2010 09:58 AM

                                                                                                                        Just wondering where this "pre-made" stuff is sourced from, since you seem to be certain of this.

                                                                                                                        I wouldn't mind buying some of that takowasabi in bulk, tasty stuff.

                                                                                                                        1. re: aser
                                                                                                                          jlunar RE: aser Mar 5, 2010 10:12 AM

                                                                                                                          I can pass on the other two, but yeah, that takowasabi is taaasty.

                                                                                                                          apparently, there's like ... one distribution source for all the JP resto's in town. I'm not sure how one would get the takowasabi from though.

                                                                                                                          1. re: aser
                                                                                                                            g
                                                                                                                            gingerpepper RE: aser Mar 5, 2010 02:04 PM

                                                                                                                            Try Ozawa and Nishimoto. Ozawa is opened to public. Not so sure about Nishimoto. They are both located at Richmond Hill.

                                                                                                                            1. re: gingerpepper
                                                                                                                              aser RE: gingerpepper Mar 8, 2010 12:44 PM

                                                                                                                              Just wondering if you've seen this for sale at such wholesalers or are you assuming.

                                                                                                                              1. re: aser
                                                                                                                                g
                                                                                                                                gingerpepper RE: aser Mar 8, 2010 02:54 PM

                                                                                                                                Just got a box of the takowasabi from one of this wholsalers last week.

                                                                                                                                1. re: gingerpepper
                                                                                                                                  aser RE: gingerpepper Mar 8, 2010 05:15 PM

                                                                                                                                  so which wholesaler, ozawa or nishimoto?

                                                                                                                                  I feel like I have to squeeze this out of you like it's forbidden knowledge.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: aser
                                                                                                                                    g
                                                                                                                                    gingerpepper RE: aser Mar 9, 2010 06:54 AM

                                                                                                                                    It is not forbidden knowledge. Maybe I am more interested to check around and has more friends in the food business. I got this box through a friend who works in one of the wholesalers.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: aser
                                                                                                                                      Chester Eleganté RE: aser Mar 9, 2010 08:02 AM

                                                                                                                                      It's Nishimoto, but they're strictly wholesalers.

                                                                                                                        2. re: Bobby Wham
                                                                                                                          g
                                                                                                                          gingerpepper RE: Bobby Wham Mar 5, 2010 08:55 AM

                                                                                                                          You can get this type of food quality at any all-you-can Japanese/Korean restauruant.
                                                                                                                          Try WASABI in Richmond Hill. The sashimi in the Sashimi Salad was even worse.
                                                                                                                          The Hamachi was dark and the texture was so soggy, like some leftover from the day before.

                                                                                                                          1. re: gingerpepper
                                                                                                                            skylineR33 RE: gingerpepper Mar 5, 2010 09:23 AM

                                                                                                                            Hey gingerpepper, this is quite a statement. From the pictures and descriptions listed (food, drink, environment) in this thread, I cannot find stuffs that can grab my attention to go try. But what is some of your favourite Japanese restaurants in Toronto area ?

                                                                                                                            1. re: skylineR33
                                                                                                                              g
                                                                                                                              gingerpepper RE: skylineR33 Mar 5, 2010 02:11 PM

                                                                                                                              There is not one Japanese restaurant I like at this point, I used to like ZEN. But not anymore. I feel the quality of food there is not consistence. For value, service,quality of food. I think Solo is my first choice.

                                                                                                                              1. re: gingerpepper
                                                                                                                                skylineR33 RE: gingerpepper Mar 5, 2010 02:30 PM

                                                                                                                                Talking about inconsistent, Solo's nigiri is also very inconsistent, definitely more than Zen.

                                                                                                                            2. re: gingerpepper
                                                                                                                              aser RE: gingerpepper Mar 5, 2010 09:59 AM

                                                                                                                              umm yeah, sorry, wasabi and guu are not on the same playing field.

                                                                                                                        3. Underdog Rally RE: BokChoi Mar 5, 2010 07:13 PM

                                                                                                                          Just came home from Guu on a Friday night. Signed in at 6:40, was seated at 8 pm, so the wait is still pretty long during peak hours. I was eager to try this place, and I have to say, it was probably one of the best pub experiences I've had in Toronto with regards to food, drink and service. Perhaps the 80 minutes standing outside whetted our appetites, but I was really impressed at how well prepared the dishes were. Not high-end food, but all delicious. It looked like many of the patrons, including myself and my party, were there to make a dinner out of Guu's menu. In hindsight, I think that I initially missed the point of the Izakaya. What really made some of the dishes stand out was how well they went with the sake/shotyu/beer, and for that purpose the dishes were well designed.

                                                                                                                          We shared the Edamame, Kurage, Takowasabi, Takoyaki, Karaage, Okonomiyaki, Agedashi Tofu, Tontoro, Gyu Tangue and Karubi. Everything was tasty, but if I were to come by for an after dinner drink, I would order a takowasabi (which goes very well with Shotyu), tontoro and the Agedashi Tofu (perhaps I haven't tried it enough elsewhere, but I really enjoyed this soupy style). I don't think I'll be going back on a Friday night, though 80 minutes is a bit too long to wait outside now that I've gotten over the novelty, even for two hours of tasty, drunken revelry. Not the greatest restaurant, but definitely sets the bar way up there as a pub.

                                                                                                                          1. t
                                                                                                                            themself RE: BokChoi Mar 15, 2010 10:03 AM

                                                                                                                            FYI for Vegetarians: our very diligent waitress last night confirmed that some menu items that might look vegetarian actually aren't:
                                                                                                                            * Tofu salad (mushrooms are prepared in fish sauce, but you can order it without them)
                                                                                                                            * Agedashi tofu (prepared in fish broth)
                                                                                                                            * Oden (uses fish broth)
                                                                                                                            * Kinoko cheese bibimbop (includes mushrooms prepared in fish sauce).

                                                                                                                            However, these are vegetarian:
                                                                                                                            * gomaae (delicious!)
                                                                                                                            * oshinko
                                                                                                                            * edamame
                                                                                                                            * most of the desserts

                                                                                                                            Bottom line for vegetarians: Guu has great atmosphere and a few interesting snack/dessert options to go with drinks but not really enough veg options to cobble together a meal.

                                                                                                                            1. mlukan RE: BokChoi Apr 7, 2010 10:21 AM

                                                                                                                              Checked this place out last night. I have nothing but good things to say about it. Excellent vibe/service/and food. Can't wait to go again.

                                                                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: mlukan
                                                                                                                                b
                                                                                                                                bringonthelbs RE: mlukan Apr 7, 2010 10:49 AM

                                                                                                                                Mlukan, what time did you go at? And was there a long wait?

                                                                                                                                1. re: bringonthelbs
                                                                                                                                  mlukan RE: bringonthelbs Apr 7, 2010 11:40 AM

                                                                                                                                  Well I was there at about 4:50, I was 3rd in line and got in promptly. The place was completely full by about 6:15. I left at about 6:45 and there was no line outside. Seriously if I would have had to wait 30 minutes to get in, it totally would have been worth it. I guess going for opening on a Tuesday was unnecessary.

                                                                                                                                2. re: mlukan
                                                                                                                                  l
                                                                                                                                  LTL RE: mlukan Apr 7, 2010 02:17 PM

                                                                                                                                  I know there have been extensive reports already, but I'm interested in knowing what you found to be the standout dishes.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: LTL
                                                                                                                                    mlukan RE: LTL Apr 7, 2010 03:56 PM

                                                                                                                                    Fried Chicken( had to order seconds because it was literally the best fried chicken Ive ever had), Shrimp Sashimi, Deep fried puffed octopus balls, Grilled SABA, BUTAKIMCHI BIBIMBAP. Honestly, I haven't had this great of an experience in a long time. I'm getting so hungry just thinking about it. Its a great place to order a ton of drinks, share dishes with the SO and get loud. What a treat!

                                                                                                                                    1. re: mlukan
                                                                                                                                      grandgourmand RE: mlukan Apr 7, 2010 04:23 PM

                                                                                                                                      You hit the nail on the head.

                                                                                                                                3. c
                                                                                                                                  childofthestorm RE: BokChoi Apr 9, 2010 07:03 AM

                                                                                                                                  Finally tried Guu on Thursday night - went at 9:30 and had only a five-minute wait - and it was good times. The vibe in there is unlike anything in Toronto, not to mention that I've eaten at dozens of izakayas around Japan and Guu in Toronto was definitely the loudest I've been to. So I guess it's their thing. It makes for a stellar night, particularly if you have your drinking hat on because really, it's a bar that serves fun food.

                                                                                                                                  Ordered ten dishes between 2 of us, which was a bit excessive as usual, and my favourite dish was the salmon natto, not overly stinky and just a gorgeous mix of colour, taste, and texture. However it was my wife's first foray into the pungent world of natto and let's just say she's not a fan, although she was happy she tried it. The karaage was killer, if it weren't for the lineups I would point anyone with a fried chicken craving to Guu. Also great were the agedashi tofu, daikon salad, tako wasabi, and takoyaki.

                                                                                                                                  Talking about misses, while it was fun to suck the heads of the sweet shrimp sashimi, you can certainly get better elsewhere. I snuck a peek at some of the other sashimi preparations, and would say that anyone who eats at the better Toronto sushi places would probably want to skip that area of the Guu menu. Also a whiff was the grilled saba, which was overcooked and really just far too busy for me, with the fried garlic chips and grilled onions pounding the subtle oily flavour of the fish into submission. I really prefer a simpler robata-style execution.

                                                                                                                                  Bill before tip for all this food plus a pitcher (and an extra two glasses) of Sapporo came to $90 which is terrific value. I was pretty stuffed and had a definite buzz on, exactly how you want to feel rolling out of a boisterous izakaya.

                                                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: childofthestorm
                                                                                                                                    jlunar RE: childofthestorm Apr 9, 2010 07:36 AM

                                                                                                                                    *makes note of date/time* 5 minutes you say...!

                                                                                                                                    1. re: jlunar
                                                                                                                                      c
                                                                                                                                      childofthestorm RE: jlunar Apr 9, 2010 08:56 AM

                                                                                                                                      Might also need to factor in atmospheric conditions, as it had been raining all day, but stopped an hour before.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: childofthestorm
                                                                                                                                        jlunar RE: childofthestorm Apr 9, 2010 12:09 PM

                                                                                                                                        duly noted! I will get back there eventually... Just not if I have to wait 2 hours. :) I have hope that day will be soon, given I eat late anyway!

                                                                                                                                        1. re: jlunar
                                                                                                                                          c
                                                                                                                                          canadianbeaver RE: jlunar Apr 28, 2010 11:27 AM

                                                                                                                                          I was there on Sunday at 10 p.m. and the place was only 25% full.

                                                                                                                                  2. b
                                                                                                                                    bringonthelbs RE: BokChoi Apr 9, 2010 01:20 PM

                                                                                                                                    I'm considering heading to Guu tonight - has anyone been recently on a Friday night? I would probably want to go later, around 9 or so. Any idea on weekend wait times these days?

                                                                                                                                    1. p
                                                                                                                                      peppermint pate RE: BokChoi Apr 30, 2010 07:45 AM

                                                                                                                                      Hard to know what to add to this lengthy thread on which I've already posted but I'm still in that giddy euphoric phase of Guu's long anticipated arrival in Toronto. For years and years, I would plead with them at Guu in Vancouver to open a place in Toronto and now that it's here, I can't imagine the Toronto dining scene without it.

                                                                                                                                      We went last night - got in at about 5:30 or so - by 5:40, the place was totally full. What other restaurant in this city is so rockin' and buzzing before 6??? My general sense, though, is that line-ups have eased up a bit - what might have been a 90 minute wait in the opening days is probably no more than a 40 minute or so wait during peak times and if you get lucky with the timing, the wait can be far less (at 7:00, for example, there were about 6 open seats in the restaurant for 10 minutes or so...).

                                                                                                                                      Anyway, the food - it's tough going there with only one other person because there are so many choices, especially when you add in the specials. Loved the takoyaki and karage. We had 2 of the specials - grilled yellowtail with ponzu and this cheese/corn fritter thing. We also had the cheesy bibimbap dish which I liked but didn't love - I found the seaweed flavour a bit too dominant. You definitely have to balance the fried dishes with some other stuff to cut the heavy feeling you get - we ordered the daikon salad again and enjoyed the crunch, fresh flavour and texture as a contrast.

                                                                                                                                      Someone was celebrating their birthday and you can only imagine how loud and boisterous the staff's rendition of "happy birthday" was - hilarious. And I think that's what I love most about Guu - whether it's the loud and friendly waves and greetings as you walk in and out the door, the friendly service, the fun and tasty food, etc. - Guu is a HAPPY, fun restaurant. I defy you to go there and leave without a big smile on your face. Can't wait to go back!

                                                                                                                                      -----
                                                                                                                                      Guu
                                                                                                                                      398 Church Street, Toronto, ON M5B 2A2, CA

                                                                                                                                      1. p
                                                                                                                                        presencegirl RE: BokChoi May 6, 2010 08:05 PM

                                                                                                                                        Went to Guu last night. Was a Wednesday night. I arrived at around 5:30 the place was already packed. I was waiting for friends so I let the 4 people in front of me get seated. We ended up waiting about 20 minutes? This was my first time there, and yesterday night there was terrential downpour. Despite that they make you wait outside!!! But they gave me someone's umbrella if that helps...

                                                                                                                                        When I was inside I appreciated more that people were waiting outside... I've always found people standing around waiting for your seat to be uncomfortable.

                                                                                                                                        Atmosphere was SUPER loud, louder than any chinese supermarket I've been to. We sat at the bar (the bar stools have a little cubby to put your purse into!)

                                                                                                                                        Food was good! We had the butter scallops, seared tuna (yum!), oysters (too cheesy), jellyfish salad, both bimbambops (cheesy and regular), and the cheesecake between three people.
                                                                                                                                        It came to about 70$ tax and tip included (my friend had the sake sangria).

                                                                                                                                        My fave was probably the cheesy bimbambop and the seared tuna. The bimbambop is the best I've ever tasted anywhere because of the hotpot rice! The tofu cheesecake was nice and light! ( i normally can only take one bite of regular cheesecake cause of the richness)

                                                                                                                                        Staff were great, very friendly. They recommended items and they turned out to be great!

                                                                                                                                        I'm still not used to how loud it was in there. You can't really speak but I guess it'd be a good place for a first date! (no awkward silences). It's not really a place where you can sit and lull over food. (think salad king rush rush atmosphere, but chicer and friendlier)

                                                                                                                                        When we left, there was a line of about 20 people dressed prettily waiting in the rain.

                                                                                                                                        Only go when there's sun!! But go for sure!

                                                                                                                                        -----
                                                                                                                                        Guu
                                                                                                                                        398 Church Street, Toronto, ON M5B 2A2, CA

                                                                                                                                        1. a
                                                                                                                                          akhorasanee RE: BokChoi May 21, 2010 07:55 AM

                                                                                                                                          This place was amazing! probably one of my new favourites in this city!!!!
                                                                                                                                          My personal favourites of the night were:
                                                                                                                                          the jellyfish vermicelli (we orderd 2)
                                                                                                                                          mushroom cheese and seeweed bimbap (so so good- we ordered 2 of this as well)
                                                                                                                                          the tuna sashimi
                                                                                                                                          buttered scallops and
                                                                                                                                          salmon sashimi

                                                                                                                                          other dishes that were good were the - deep friend oysters, deep fried prawns, octopus puffs

                                                                                                                                          dishes that were just ok- black cod and shrimp sashimi

                                                                                                                                          we order a sake-mojito (great), a beer and a sake
                                                                                                                                          and the total for 3 people came to $40 per person (including tax tip and drinks) and we were stuffed and super satisfeid.
                                                                                                                                          the staff was friendly, the atmosphere had a fun big city restaurant feel to it ( sthg I've always missed in T.O.)

                                                                                                                                          I am so happy this place opened in the street I live cause its really brilliant!

                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                          1. re: akhorasanee
                                                                                                                                            elvisahmed RE: akhorasanee May 21, 2010 12:24 PM

                                                                                                                                            Thanks for the heads up on the dishes I will try some of them next time. I liked the fried chicken but takowasabi was nothing special. Cod was good. Will think of trying the mojito next time but Sapparo draft is too good to pass.
                                                                                                                                            The Energy in this spot is mind boggling.

                                                                                                                                          2. g
                                                                                                                                            ggom1 RE: BokChoi May 24, 2010 07:49 PM

                                                                                                                                            Went to Guu on Sunday night as a group of 3 - arrived around 8:30 and were told the wait might be about an hour or longer, but we were able to sit on the patio and order drinks and two appetizers. From our understanding, they won't serve the full menu on the patio, but they'll let you order a couple items from the appetizer section of the menu. After a few minutes, we wound up getting seated inside at the bar - total wait time was maybe 10 minutes? We were inside before our drinks were served lol.

                                                                                                                                            -----
                                                                                                                                            Guu
                                                                                                                                            398 Church Street, Toronto, ON M5B 2A2, CA

                                                                                                                                            1. s
                                                                                                                                              Sagesse RE: BokChoi Dec 18, 2010 10:00 AM

                                                                                                                                              For those that haven't heard, it's Guu's first anniversary this weekend and they're offering $6.99 pitchers of Sapporo and a bunch of specials. Went last night and it was definitely worth it.

                                                                                                                                              -----
                                                                                                                                              Guu
                                                                                                                                              398 Church Street, Toronto, ON M5B 2A2, CA

                                                                                                                                              1. Charles Yu RE: BokChoi Sep 12, 2011 06:27 PM

                                                                                                                                                Our party of four ordered 17 different dishes tonight. They included:
                                                                                                                                                - Sweet shrimp sashimi ( amaebi )
                                                                                                                                                - Marinated BC Tuna with sweet yuzu and wasabi
                                                                                                                                                - Fried oysters 3 ways
                                                                                                                                                - Fried Chicken cartilage
                                                                                                                                                - Fried Udon with spicy tuna
                                                                                                                                                - Beef Carpaccio
                                                                                                                                                - Marinated octopus
                                                                                                                                                - B-B-Q beef rIbs
                                                                                                                                                - Takoyaki
                                                                                                                                                - Sashimi salad
                                                                                                                                                - Hokkaido scallops carpaccio
                                                                                                                                                - Baked oysters
                                                                                                                                                - Marinated Bonito with wasabi potato salad
                                                                                                                                                - Spinach with black seasame paste
                                                                                                                                                - Fried eggplants with sweet miso sauce
                                                                                                                                                - Grilled ox-tongue
                                                                                                                                                - Grilled saba ( mackerel )

                                                                                                                                                Overall, the meal was OK with no really standout dishes. In fact, the only 'stand-out' was that quite a few dishes were excessively salty!! With such unimpressive food, I really don't understand what the rave was all about??! May be patrons enjoy the loud atmosphere more than the food?!

                                                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                1. re: Charles Yu
                                                                                                                                                  skylineR33 RE: Charles Yu Sep 12, 2011 07:11 PM

                                                                                                                                                  IMO, it is only because this is something 'new' in Toronto that people in Toronto has never experience that before. I don't understand the rave too, but I have never been there. For me, I cannot find a food reason to go there especially when there is a line -up.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: skylineR33
                                                                                                                                                    Charles Yu RE: skylineR33 Sep 12, 2011 07:19 PM

                                                                                                                                                    We arrived at 6.15 pm tonight! Surprisingly, no line-up for us tonight!

                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Charles Yu
                                                                                                                                                    elvisahmed RE: Charles Yu Sep 12, 2011 10:16 PM

                                                                                                                                                    I kinda agree with Charles I don't think the food is amazing (I luv the Takowasabi though) and its a combination of the energy and vibe that brings back hordes and hordes of people. My friend and his wife were in from out of town so I brought them here as they wanted to try something different. After the meal they were overjoyed and didn't even recall much of what we had (combination of pitcher after pitcher of beer and the energy we felt)

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