You know, you can’t ignore the fact that Vancouver is so freakin’ lucky to be close to the sea. I must admit, I don’t know how much fish is actually caught from B.C’s coast and are literally put into local kitchens, but heck they’re a lot closer to Japan than we are in Calgary. After our late lunch at Phnom Penh, Ben and I walked around Vancouver’s Burrard Street, only to have soar feet and be extremely hungry. We wanted to eat somewhere where service was fast, casual, cheap, and they must serve cold beer.
Thanks to our trusty iPhone, we were able to locate a couple places close by; therefore, our next stop for dinner in Vancouver was Guu Original (the original Guu since they now have 6 locations in the Greater Vancouver Area and 2 in Toronto). What’s special about Guu is that they serve Japanese food izakaya style, basically Japanese pub food. The business has been around since 1993 and were one of the first to offer this style of service in Vancouver.
We were fortunate enough to have a short wait for a table, no more then 10 minutes. The restaurant itself is quite a small space, and since it’s just the two of us eating, they offered us the bar seating. It was great actually that they sat us there because we saw all the action happening.
First order of the evening, beer. Nice, cold, delicious Sapporo beer for $5.00. Smooth, cold, refreshing, is exactly what we needed to start out the evening.
Alright, so I know most people would automatically order sushi right off the bat right? Well, I don’t think they offer sushi here, and honestly why would they? There’s so much more than to Japanese cuisine than just sushi, but we still ordered sashimi since we’re in Vancouver and well, fresh fish is better here right?
As I was scanning through the menu, I noticed that they had Sea Urchin Sashimi for $9.80. Honestly, I didn’t know exactly how much Sea Urchin we got for that price, but it ended up being about 5-6 pieces or so. Now, the only good Sea Urchin I’ve had was at Morimoto’s in NYC and that was ridiculously fresh and ah-mazing (sorry no pics or post, a client dinner I had – next time). This was good, if anything, better …. value…. because I remember it being hefty price at Morimoto’s. I have to admit, I usually would have just taken a piece and dipped it in some soy sauce but seeing that there were nori pieces on the plate, I assumed we just wrapped it in the nori and then dip (which is what we did). The Sea Urchin was creamy, no fishy taste or smell, just had that wonderful umami taste to it and the nori just tasted like everyday nori, but it did serve a helpful purpose of holding the Sea Urchin while we dip.
Our next plate was the 5 Kind of Sashimi for $22.00. You get to choose from their menu which ones you want so we ended up choosing Spanish Mackerel, Japanese Snapper, Yellow Jack, Yellow Tail and Amber Jack. In what order were they in the picture? I have no idea. I figured the darker greyish one in the photo is the Spanish Mackerel and the sashimi beside it is the snapper. The other 3 behind are also known as the “Big 3 Yellowtails”, since they’re all related species of fish. Regardless, the sashimi was delicious, it tasted fresh, and didn’t have that fishy smell. It was good and we both really enjoyed it.
Next item that came to us was the Sato Imo, a panko breaded taro potato croquette for $4.00. I guess this was our “vegetable” for the meal, at the same time I find that things that are deep fried go well with a cold beer. These croquette were really hot when served and it did take us a few bites to finish one up, but it was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The taro itself was seasoned just right and wasn’t overly soft or creamy in texture, it held up really well. The drizzled sauce tasted like Okonomi Sauce, kinda like worcestershire sauce but a thicker consistency and had hint of sweetness.
Up next was the Hatote Butter for $5.60, a grilled garlic butter scallop on onion with bonito flakes and garlic chips (is what their description is….), for me I would like to describe it this way, it was a grilled garlic butter scallop on a toasted garlic butter baguette with fried mushrooms, onions, with bonito flakes. It was funny because I saw the chef making this and I was curious to what it was she was doing… and then she handed it to me. Don’t get me wrong, it was good, it was garlicky, buttery, savoury and on a toasted baguette sooo yeah, it was pretty tasty – but they should have mentioned the mushrooms. Oh, and the scallops weren’t that memorable since they were buried under the mountain of invading mushrooms. But for $5.60, how much or how big would you expect the scallops to be right?
The final dish was the Grilled Squid Legs for $5.80 . The legs tasted good, though I would admit they were done just right and didn’t taste too rubbery. They seasoned it nicely where it wasn’t too salty and they gave us a side of some mayo-like sauce. It was good and I guess typical of what you would find if you ate grilled squid legs.
Overall, I like Guu Original, though I will admit the space can get a little tight. The service is fast and friendly and the prices are pretty decent for what you’ll find in downtown Vancouver.
- Extremely fast service, this place really depends on turn overs.
- Great for couples or a small group of friends, probably not a great idea for families with kids due to the lack of space.
- They have strict reservation policy that you should check out before go, but turnover is quite fast (especially for a party of 2).
- Prices are pretty cheap for what you’ll finding downtown Vancouver
- By the looks of it- street parking is available, but is limited (but that’s basically how it is in all of Vancouver isn’t it?)
- They accept all credit cards, debit, and cash