I’ve given myself several tries, but I just can’t seem to bring myself to love Guu. I don’t know what it is. I mean, I love Japanese food, and I like trying new things, and the menu at Guu looks good on paper, but I’m never blown away when the food comes. I liked Suika and Kingyo, so maybe this isn’t a problem with izakaya in general, and the answer is to try other places (I haven’t tried Hapa yet). Regardless, Guu Aberdeen is too close and convenient for me not to visit, so I was given another chance to try to see what makes Guu so Guu’d.
Upon being seated, we were served an amuse-bouche (I didn’t know izakaya did that), of sour cream and onion potatoes. I may not be a huge fan of Guu, but I definitely can’t fault their creativity. When I looked at this, I had no clue what it was, but as soon as I tasted it, it became clear. A sour cream and onion chip, but not fried. Great start to the meal.
Tako wasabi is probably one of the few things I love that is consistently on the menu at Guu. Crunchy little bits of octopus and real wasabi root (not the green paste) in a little dish, served with dried nori (seaweed) for wrapping it up into a mini tako-taco. I like the unique flavour of octopus sashimi, and I like wasabi, so this dish is basically made for me. The wasabi is just this side of too much, providing a pleasant burn that stops right before you need to reach for the water glass. Fortunately, if it proves too hot, the chemical that causes the burn in wasabi is water-soluble just like it is in mustard, meaning you can wash it away with water. This is not the case with chili peppers, whose burn-causing agent is oil-based, causing it to linger in your mouth even after you’ve drank a jug of water.
Since the menus at izakaya change daily with rather cheap, small-portioned dishes, they encourage trying new things. As such, I ordered the kakuni: stewed pork belly served with a chunk of daikon and a poached egg, as well as two steamed mini-buns. I was confused as to how exactly to eat this, but it came with a fork and knife, so I used those. The poached egg kinda went everywhere in the sauce when poked though, so I’m not sure if I did it right. The pork itself was rather fatty, as typical of pork belly, but the stewing made it remarkably tender. The daikon was soaked in the sauce, and was surprisingly good considering I’m not a huge fan of Japanese radish. I would have liked this dish to come with more of those buns to soak up the sauce and egg, as two small ones were definitely not enough.
Also ordered the salmon deluxe box (rendered on the menu as “salmon delax box”; oh Guu). An assortment of salmon goodies, it came with salmon sashimi, salmon ginger roll (first maki I’ve seen that uses ginger as a filling), black salt salmon (I think that’s what it was), deep fried salmon, salmon motoyaki, and spicy salmon sashimi.
The sashimi was extremely fresh, very juicy, and almost melted in my mouth with flavour. It really underscored the difference between sashimi, and that “sashimi” that you eat at all-you-can-eat restaurants (not knockin’ it, there’s a time and place for both $3 sashimi and AYCE madness). I’m not a huge fan of motoyaki, and this held true here as well. It had broccoli in it. Never seen that before. What really stood out in this box was the black salt salmon. The flavour was briny yet fresh and immediately made me think of the ocean, almost like a raw oyster. I think I’d like the ginger maki better if the ginger was fresh, not pickled, but at least it wasn’t pink.
Okonomiyaki, partially to fill me up, partially because okonomiyaki is good. This was pretty standard, or else I haven’t eaten enough of it to tell the difference.
My dining companion always orders udon when we go to izakaya or Japanese restaurants, so she ordered the kimchi udon this time. I’m not a kimchi lover (can’t stand those instant noodles), but from what I tasted, it was alright. I still prefer mentaiko udon when it’s available though!
I need to expand my izakaya horizons, maybe I’ll find that Guu just isn’t the right fit for me. Or maybe I’m just doing it wrong!
4151 Hazelbridge Way