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Guu -- which location would YOU go to and why?

It's DH's birthday this week and he would like to go to Guu this Friday night.
We're expecting to line up (and that's okay with us) but we're hoping to get there around 5pm or just before.

Neither of us have been to either location -- would CHers recommend one over the other?

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

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  1. The Annex one is bigger so I find the wait shorter, and I've gone there for that reason specifically. I like the food at the older one much better, however. I've been to the Annex one a couple of times and it seems like most of the food is deep fried, which after a while, gets pretty gross. The one dish I love here though is the udon carbonara - the kimchi one is pretty good too

    The older one has more of a selection of food, I find, and not everything has to be deep fried. I also like a lot of the dishes here a lot more, even if they have them at the other location

    So personally, if it's for convenience I'll go to the newer one, but if it's more about the food, the older one. What we usually do is put our name down, then go for a beer somewhere nearby and come back after an hour or so (whatever time the host suggests). Hope that helps!

    1 Reply
    1. re: tygrr_lily

      I've found the portions for takowasa and salmon natto to have shrunken at the Annex location. Maybe someone that frequents Church st can corroborate. Alas, I still go there almost exclusively since it's far closer to me. Plus the oishizushi and carbonara udon are top notch and only available at the annex.

      The best thing I had there was a big eye tuna nigiri, on the specials menu. It rivaled the best of zen and kaji, alas I've never seen it since. They've been very consistent w/ their shari seasoning.

      I haven't had to wait at the Annex location, ever. I've gone 10+ times, then again never on Fri/Sat.

      I stay away from the deep fried items at both locations, kewpie overload.

    2. I like them both, as long as the lines aren't excruciatingly long.

      1. I prefer the menu at the Church location. Less fried items.

        1. Neither. The only way that I'll spend 1-2 hours waiting in line for a restaurant is if they're ready to take my cell number and I can bugger off to a bar nearby (thank you, Foxley's/Libretto/etc.). Making you wait outside, unfed and unwatered is unacceptable.

          I'm also a huge fan of Fin Izakaya at Yonge/Eg- their menu is outstanding, staff friendly and they're only too happy to take reservations.

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          Fin Izakaya
          55 埃格林顿大街, 多伦多, ON M4P 1A6, CA

          10 Replies
          1. re: biggreenmatt

            If you go at opening, you won't line up. Actually the last few times I've been to Guu (annex) around 7pm there was no lineup either.

            I go to the annex location because of the oshizushi.

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

            1. re: biggreenmatt

              Just go early or late and you won't hit a lineup. I haven't had a good meal at Fin (which I found mostly mediocre), so I wouldn't recommend it.

              On the other hand, Koyoi on Irwin is smaller than Guu, but rarely ever requires lining up; the dishes that they share with Guu tend to be better executed at Koyoi, but their menu is much smaller. Ematei is a good option if you go for grilled fish and avoid stuff like the ramen and sushi.

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              Ematei
              30 Saint Patrick St, Toronto, ON M5T3A3, CA

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

              Koyoi
              2 Irwin Ave, Toronto, ON M4Y 1K9, CA

              1. re: tjr

                Really? Have you been to Fin recently? I started going there last summer and since then it's been consistently terrific, though I understand that before then they were mediocre and inconsistent.

                Granted, as a huge fan of the restaurant I'm completely biased, but if you haven't tried it lately, may I suggest that you try it again? Hopefully you'll have as wonderful an experience as I consistently do.

                1. re: biggreenmatt

                  Unfortunately, considering both Guu locations as well as Koyoi are close walks, I probably wouldn't waste my time on Fin unless I heard a glowing recommendation from someone whose Japanese food knowledge I trust.

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

                  Koyoi
                  2 Irwin Ave, Toronto, ON M4Y 1K9, CA

                    1. re: biggreenmatt

                      No, no, I'm sure they have decent food. Just not decent enough to make me move :-)

                2. re: tjr

                  Ematei's karaage is far superior to Guu's. I love going there for their place card menu, king mushrooms, nabeyaki udon and nabe. The nabe is listed for 2 but can easily feed 3.

                  I had the Koyoi $14 ramen that's only served one day of the week, not worth it. Otherwise, their small dishes are very solid.

                  Fin was simply not good, on my one visit there.

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                  Ematei
                  30 Saint Patrick St, Toronto, ON M5T3A3, CA

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

                  Koyoi
                  2 Irwin Ave, Toronto, ON M4Y 1K9, CA

                  1. re: aser

                    Agree re: the ramen at Koyoi. I didn't find it to be all that impressive, esp. considering the price. I'd rather just go to Kenzo.

                    Ematei is still one of my favourite places for Japanese food in the city; so many of their dishes are great, though it's probably been a couple years since I've had their karaage! Thanks for the reminder! I also like their nabe.

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                    Ematei
                    30 Saint Patrick St, Toronto, ON M5T3A3, CA

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

                    Koyoi
                    2 Irwin Ave, Toronto, ON M4Y 1K9, CA

                3. re: biggreenmatt

                  Agreed. I won't be trying Guu any time soon. I'd be so annoyed and tired by the time I sat down that I would not enjoy it.

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

                4. Do you mind eating in a room full of shoe-less customers? If yes, go to Church.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: iMarilyn

                    I actually love that room on the Bloor street location - it is by far the closest to what I experienced in Japan. I just wish the menu had some more options that weren't fried.

                  2. I like the Church location more. The Karaage batter is lighter there; I found the batter at Bathurst is different. Also, they only do the frozen grapes at the Church location, which I'm completely infatuated with.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: table4onthefly

                      I noticed that too -- though both times we went very very late, I thought they ran out or something (the frozen grapes).

                      In any case -- I prefer the Bloor/Bathurst location. Reasons:
                      -more space, thus never had to line up the two times i did go
                      -udon carbonara

                    2. Just thought I would update, as we finally went to both locations.

                      Original Guu Izakaya on Church St:
                      Went here on a beautiful Friday evening in July. Arrived at around 5:30 (it opened at 4pm that evening) and there was absolutely no line up and the restaurant was only 1/4 full -- but it filled up pretty quickly once 6pm hit. When we left just after 7 there was definitely a line up outside.
                      Three of us ordered about 12 dishes and a combination of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Fell absolutely in love with the lychee soda. DH liked the texture and the wasabi-heat of the takowasabi so much we ordered a 2nd one. Really enjoyed the karaage and the octopus balls (forgot the name). The only miss was the deep-fried oyster, and I think that was just a personal thing as we all realized that we like oysters raw much better than cooked.

                      Guu Sakabar on Bloor St W:
                      Went last night -- a beatifully warm Friday evening in September.
                      Arrived just past 7pm with a party of 2 and was seated at the bar. Noticed immediately that this location is MUCH larger. Even at that time there was no lineup and when we left at 9pm there was only a small lineup (and it looked to be comprised of 2 somewhat large groups).
                      Loved watching the action from the bar, but as we were right at the corner I think they forgot about us a little toward the end when it started to get really busy.
                      We didn't mind though, as we were in no rush and just enjoying the vibe, the music and our own company :)
                      This location seemed to be much louder, but we were also there at a later time than at the first location and there seemed to be several raucous birthday parties going on (when DH saw the birthday greetings with the tambourines he immediately told me he wanted to go back here for his birthday)
                      Noticed that there are MUCH less items to choose from. DH was as pleased with the takowasabi and ordered 2 right off the bat. He also really enjoyed the marinated jellyfish.
                      This location didn't have the lychee pop, but did have the sesame dessert that I had been loking forward to.

                      All in all, having gone to both locations I would probably choose the Church St location if we were a smaller group or were going during off-hours. I'm in love with that lychee soda (though I know I could probably easily just make my own at home) and the fact there were a lot more choices here, even on the daily specials menu.
                      However, with a larger group or during prime dinner hours I wouldn't mind going to the Bloor St location. I just read a thread saying it looks like this reduced menu is somewhat recent, so if the menu fills up again I'd probably tell DH we have to go back :)

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