Gotta go to Guu
As I am prone to do, I went prowling last night and ended up at Guu Izakaya on Church. Got there around 6:30. It was crowded but I managed to get a seat at the bar. Quite the experience! Staff is truly amazing. They are constantly yelling out food orders and greeting people as they are seated and as they leave. However, very attentive. Had the black cod, pork belly, scallops and some noodles. Also a half litre of wine (not the best quality but for $13 it was a bargoon). While not high end cuisine, it certainly was a great experience and I will going back soon.
There's a lot of talk about Guu, but I had a great experience as well. Having lived in Japan for a while, I really like the spots that make food that closest to what I ate there. Downtown, there are only three restaurants I've found that fit this bill - Manpuuku, Konnichiwa on Baldwin, and Guu. All of them are Japanese run, for what it's worth.
As for the crowds, I'd advise going early. The day that I went it was packed by 5:40, but generally pretty quiet before. My guess is that things may open up a bit later, say 10 or so on weeknights - has anyone checked out the restaurant then?