Guu Garden

My first ever visit to the Guu franchise was waaay back in Grade 10, when I went with my parents to Guu Richmond, which is housed in Aberdeen Centre. Now, everyone loves Guu, but I, for one, was a little intimidated and… dare I say annoyed? at the constant yelling and chatter in the restaurant. I don’t remember too much about the food, but I do remember that it seemed pretty pricey– especially for someone who was used to eating cheap rolls from the nearby Sushi Town.

Between then and now, I’ve gone to Guu one other time, but I didn’t feel like it was anything to write home about. So when Cynthia and I were deciding on a place to go for lunch, I was surprised that I agreed to try out Guu Garden on Nelson. Maybe I felt like it was time to give it another try… and maybe it was because Cynthia was raving about the place like there was no tomorrow :P

It was a warm Sunday afternoon, so there weren’t too many people in the restaurant at the time. We were greeted by the familiar shout from the sushi/sashimi chef and the waiters, and promptly seated around the corner from the washroom. I immediately liked the place because it was very spacious: the considerably large (compared to other Guus) dining floor housed maybe 10-15 tables that weren’t very close-set, so there was a sense of privacy, and because the space was so big, the yelling wasn’t really a factor either. There were seats outside in the rooftop garden as well, which made this place perfect for summer.

Their lunch menu was surprisingly extensive, and it took us a while to even decide on a drink. I ended up getting the Strawberry Season, and Cynthia had the Snow White. Both were quite fruity (mine tasted like berries, while Cynthia’s tasted like lychee) and weren’t too-too strong– great for imbibing during lunch, and for getting refreshed on a hot summer’s day.

For eats, we decided on a few things to share. First up is the Tuna Tataki, which was oh-so-lightly seared, then topped with sweet onions, green onion and my all-time-favourite-tataki-topping, fried garlic chips. It also came with some ponzu sauce for dipping. The tuna was really fresh, and went perfectly with all the toppings. I’m not usually that big a fan of tuna, but this didn’t taste overwhelmingly fishy to me. The sauce was light and tart, so as not to entirely mask the taste of the tuna; I also liked that the sauce was served on the side, so the fish weren’t drowning in it.

For our main of sorts, we ordered the Hacchi Miso Pork Cutlet Donburi, which came with the aforementioned pork cutlet, a poached egg, onion and ginger atop of a bowl of rice, as well as sides of miso soup, stewed potatoes, a variety of radishes, and grapes. The miso soup was quite good, with the two tofu puffs you see in the picture as well as seaweed, green onion and small cubes of soft tofu. The soup wasn’t very salty, and was a pleasant start to our lunch set. The donburi itself was quite large– there were many pieces of moist, well-seasoned pork, and there was plenty of food for both me and Cynthia. I appreciated that they used sushi rice instead of long grain rice (I don’t understand “Japanese” places that do that), and when mixed together with the egg yolk, miso sauce and flavoured mayo, the rice was really flavourful. Of the sides on our tray, we liked the potatoes the best. They weren’t too sweet, and we didn’t mind that they were a little mushy from the stewing. The radishes were pretty standard, nothing too much to say about them. There were also two grapes on the tray– a dessert, I suppose?– but by the time we got to them they were warm, so we just decided to leave them.

Our third dish was the King Salmon Sashimi, which was lightly seared on one side and displayed atop a mix of shaved daikon radish and sweet onion. This was probably the freshest sashimi I’ve ever had, and I could certainly understand the higher price we paid ($12 for 7 pieces)– it was cool (but not icy), and each piece was texturally pleasant and sweet. One thing you can say about izakayas is that they definitely put a lot of effort into making the dishes pleasing to both the eye and the mouth (just look at that cute wasabi statue!)

Now all throughout our meal we were still thinking about the tuna tataki we had earlier. We were craving it so much, in fact, we decided to order another! We be crazy kids. So here is another picture of Tuna Tataki, looking and tasting pretty much the same as before. Just typing this blog up makes me want to go for some RIGHT THIS MOMENT. Guys, I might have an problem.

All in all, our meal at Guu Garden was everything Cynthia promised it would be– it wasn’t too loud, we had privacy even though the restaurant got busier, and the food looked and tasted fantastic. The price was what I remembered it being (pricier than your average sushi joint), but now that I’ve had my fair share of Japanese food, I can definitely appreciate Guu more. You definitely get what you pay for, and while it might not be totally accessible to go here (or other izakayas) all the time, I’d recommend making the trip here for sure.

*I ended up taking my mom here for her birthday, and we had the tuna tataki (yes), kanto-daki oden (light salt and dashi-based broth with a variety of items that you can choose on the menu, like fried tofu, taro jelly and fish cakes), hamachi sashimi (again, very fresh) plus the gyu tongue chazuke (beef tongue on rice, with soup poured on top). I only make a note of it here because this second visit happened after my camera decided to stop working, so I have no pictures.

Guu Garden
M101-888 Nelson Street
Vancouver, BC

Guu Garden on Urbanspoon

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6 Comments on “Guu Garden”

  1. hanzpiao says:

    For me, Guu is just a glorified Japanese pub that has a monopoly around vancouver, therefore charging more than, say, sushi restaurants. Therefore, the ambience fits the establishment. Guu Garden seems to be more of a restaurant though. When I go to Guu, I mainly want to drink so the chitter chatter and shouting makes me feel like I’m in Tokyo again. One thing I saw they do at Guu was that they deep fry the tuna for tataki. Yup. What an atrocity and just pure laziness.

  2. moksam says:

    I see your point about the ambiance of the restaurant reflecting the culture of Japanese pubs– while I appreciate that they’re trying to replicate that, sometimes the noise just gets me to me (I like conversing with my fellow diner without shouting haha). Maybe the other Guus just aren’t for me– but then, I haven’t been to them all.

    I didn’t know that they did that with their tuna tataki! That’s pretty surprising, but I still liked the way it tasted, and it didn’t really seem like it was deep-fried… weird. When did you find this out?

    • hanzpiao says:

      I was having drinks at the Guu on Thurlow late night while they were prepping for the next day. It would’t taste oily or anything because it’s not battered and it’s wiped off, but it also doesn’t add anything to the fish. An izakaya in Tokyo is much, much louder than Guu, haha

  3. wholeistic says:

    Looks amazing, beautiful food and location.

    • moksam says:

      It really is a beautiful place, and the food was good too! I had a really good time there… if the weather were nice now I’d want to go sit in their garden area!

  4. [...] and texturally appetizing. I’ve really been into tuna tataki lately (ever since my lunch at Guu Garden), and I’m happy to say that this suburban restaurant offered up something comparable. [...]


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