Since I’m from Vancouver I always wondered how the Toronto Guu’s compared. So, I made my way to the first Guu location in Toronto, located on Church.Notorious for the long lines, our group of four waited about an hour before we were seated. The last time the four of us came here, the host informed us the wait would be two hours. Shortly after giving the host our name and number we decided to go to W Burger Bar instead. After finishing up our meal there two hours later, sure enough we received a call from Guu saying our table was ready. Note: I’ve also been to the Bloor location and our group didn’t have to wait at all.
Upon entering Guu, everyone who works there yells “welcome” in Japanese to greet you. As you can imagine, the atmosphere here is very loud and lively. Most of the seating here is on long communal tables with wooden benches, so be prepared to get cozy with your neighbours. They also have a few tables for two to four people. Luckily we were able to get one for the four of us.Guu has a main menu as well as a paper menu with the day’s specials. The dishes are Japanese tapas style – meant for sharing. The items are also very reasonably priced. Most dishes are $10 or less. They also have a selection cocktails and Japanese beer. I went with the Cherry Blossom cocktail – peach liqueur + cassis liqueur + red wine + 7up ($5.80), which was a very fruity, refreshing drink. Exactly what I was looking for.
Since I love scallop sashimi, one of the dishes we started with was the Hotate Carpaccio – scallop sashimi from Hokkaido with wasabi dressing ($6.80). The scallops were very thinly sliced and topped with green onions and fish roe. I think I would’ve preferred them sliced a little thicker. Nevertheless, they tasted delicious… especially with the wasabi dressing.Another carpaccio dish we ordered was the Gyu Carpaccio – lightly seared marbled beef sashimi with ponzu sauce, wasabi mayo and garlic chips ($6.50), a dish they also serve at the Vancouver locations. They taste the same, really. Not that it’s a bad thing… I really like this dish. The combination of the beef sashimi, sauce and garlic chips were delish. If it’s got wasabi mayo and garlic chips on it, how bad could it be?
As you may all know now, black cod is one of my favourite kinds of fish. So, it was no surprise when I ordered the Gindara – grilled black cod with Saikyo miso and white wine sauce ($9.80). I just love the smooth, buttery texture of black cod. It’s hard to go wrong with this since I’ve rarely had this done poorly (i.e. Raa Uptown Japanese). Everyone else at the table also really enjoyed this.
Mike loves calamari, so he suggested the Ikapiri – deep fried calamari with spicy ketchup and wasabi mayo ($6.30). The squid wasn’t too chewy and tasted great with the spicy ketchup and wasabi mayo. I’m telling you, you can’t go wrong with the wasabi mayo! The calamari was served in a crispy edible basket, which was nice. This dish turned out to be one of Mike’s favourite dishes of the evening.We needed some carbs, so we also ordered the Buta Kimchi Bibimbap – rice, spicy ground pork, Kimchi, assorted vegetables and an egg in a hot stone bowl ($8.80). I’m not a huge fan of kimchi, but luckily its flavour wasn’t overwhelming. I enjoyed this dish, especially the crispy bits at the bottom!
Another carb dish we ordered was the Yakiudon – pan fried udon noodles with beef and vegetables ($7.80). They have this dish at the Vancouver locations and it’s one of my favourites, so I had to get it here. The noodles were perfectly cooked and had a great flavour to them. I loved this dish just as much as I did back home.We also ordered the Kakimayo – grilled oysters with spinach, garlic mayo and cheese on top ($6.80). I normally don’t enjoy cooked oysters very much, but these tasted pretty good with the spinach, garlic mayo and cheese mixture. The mixture was very creamy and flavourful, which made it a heavy dish. Luckily, it only came with two oysters for the four of us to share.
For dessert, we decided to go with the Banana tempura – deep fried banana tempura with coconut ice cream dressed with chocolate and mango sauce ($6.00). Unfortunately this was a disappointing end to such an otherwise great meal. I feel like you can’t really go wrong with deep-fried bananas, so I was surprised by how this turned out. The bananas weren’t deep-fried very well and I don’t think they were ripe enough. I definitely wouldn’t recommend this.Overall, a great experience (aside from the banana tempura!). The food was great and was served pretty quickly. I have no complaints about the service and I loved the lively atmosphere. Certainly worth the wait!
Now how does this compare to Guu’s in Vancouver? I’m happy to say it’s very comparable. Everything was just as good, aside from the sashimi – most of which is flown out from BC!
At a glance:
Ratings (out of 5):