To be honest, Guu with Garlic wasn't our first choice for izakaya style Japanese food. Our first choice was Hapa Izakaya on Robson Street. The reviews have been good on Yelp and saw on Yelp that they closed at midnight so we left the hotel at around 10:30pm and made our way.
We arrived at Hapa Izakaya at around 10:45pm but they were closed. Perhaps not a lot of business on a late Thursday evening. We were a bit disappointed but since there are a number of good places around, we decided to head to Guu with Garlic, which was just a block away.
"It was time for some comfort food"
When we arrived, there were a number of people streaming out of the restaurant. We peeked inside and saw that there were a large number of folks inside, including two rather large parties. We thought we would have to wait a while but we were seated immediately at the counter. Behind the counter, three Japanese cooks were slaving away at making some very delicious looking treats. We picked up the menu and ordered right away. After our high class eating adventure at Hawksworth (ribeye, summer vegetables, cheesecake for dessert), it was time for some traditional and non-traditional comfort food.
We started off with ama-ebi (sweet shrimp) with a ponzu based dipping sauce. Looked good but I didn't try it because I was eating this ...
Shrimp in Chili Sauce. Came out hot out of the frying pan. The crispy texture provides a lot of room of the chili sauce to stick to it, making each bite savory and flavorful. Not super spicy which is just perfect for me. The dishes starting coming out quickly so we moved onto ...
Beef tataki. Yes, more raw meat, only without the bone. And with the dipping sauce. Followed by:
French fries with cajun mayonaisse. Now at this point, we drift away from your traditional izakaya and get down and dirty with real comfort food, like:
Chicken wings. Deep fried but oh so tasty. The sesame oil on the cabbage was a nice way of eating some kind of vegetable. Next time, I'm going to try out the karaage. Deep fried but I'm sure it's just as tasty as these wings.
Overall, a nice contrast from Hawksworth. Love the izakaya atmosphere, where the chefs and waitstaff yell "Irasshaimase!" or "Welcome!" when a customer walks in. It's a fast, noisy, bustling type of restaurant (even at late night) but all of the dishes were great. I have to say that I'm glad that Hapa Izakaya was closed since it gave us the opportunity to try out Guu with Garlic. If there was one thing that I didn't like about Guu, it was that there wasn't enough garlic on our dishes. But, outside of that little nit, it's highly recommended and well worth the trip.
Guu with Garlic
1698 Robson Street
Vancouver, B.C., Canada