At long last, Guu has arrived in Toronto! I cannot believe that up until now, there has not been a modern Japanese tapas place like the many delicious ones found in Vancouver. Months ago, I had heard that Guu would soon open here, and I was thrilled to discover that on my first night of holidays, Guu has opened at Church and Gerrard!!
The restaurant is boisterous, social and friendly - even more so than I remember of the Guu locations in Vancouver. There are small tables and share tables and also plenty of seats around the bar, where we ended up sitting tonight. We loved our location, facing the bar tender, Jin, who was a hardworking adorable Japanese guy. He turned out drinks all by himself quickly and calmly - when I asked what his favourite drink was, he decidedly told me "beer." I was hoping he might recommend one of the fancy drinks he had concocted during the night and I would quickly order one. Our waiter was also super friendly, who with his charming smile convinced me to have a "big mug" sapporo, on special for $7! Tony had vodka with Japanese red bull, and also a vodka soda with fresh grapefruit that was very popular. They actually serve the grapefruit, but our lovely bartender squeezed the juice for us.
The star of the show is of course the great food - tapas mostly ranging from $5 to $7, cold, warm, fried, stewed, and grilled. We had some specials from the menu: sweet shrimp sashimi, which the kitchen fried the heads for us after - the bartender said "you guys know how to eat shrimp, " and uni (sea urchin) sashimi, which was sweet but still can never compare to what we had in Japan. We also had some old favourites: kimchi udon with spicy cod roe and ebi mayo. Some new items on the menu we tried included oden, a delicious assortment of slow cooked fishcakes and tofu, stewed pork belly, and grilled squid. Although full of beer and delicious food, we made room for dessert - I recommend the almond tofu for something pallet cleansing, and absolutely the banana tempura with chocolate sauce and banana...very indulgent.
I can't say enough how excited we are that Guu has finally opened - on it's first night it was packed mostly with Japanese people (a good sign!), and possibly other loyalists like myself from Vancouver. It's fun, lively, inexpensive and delicious - perfect for any occasion. I am sure we will be regulars, so anytime you want to meet over a beer or sake, ring us up for a visit to Guu :)