Guu GarlicPosted: 08/11/2013
Funnily enough, the last day SB and I saw each other before my Europe trip happened to coincide with Canada Day. Despite my aversion to crowds, we decided to head downtown to enjoy some of the festivities. Sure enough, there were crowds upon crowds of people, and the day was swelteringly hot. We decided to go see a movie to escape the sun, and by the time we ventured back out into the world, it had cooled down considerably. Since it was my last time dining in Vancouver for a while, we decided to munch on my favourite cuisine: Japanese–izakayas, to be more specific, and Guu Garlic to be even more specific.
I’d been to Guu Garlic several times, but never blogged about the experience before. Guu Garlic is right beside Santouka, which even on this blisteringly hot day had a line out the door and down the street. In comparison, our restaurant of choice was not incredibly busy, and although they had no air conditioning, it was still mildly cool inside. The restaurant itself is divided into an area with a bar and tables, and a sort of upper level where you sit on cushions on the floor. I’ve sat on those cushions before, and it was very uncomfortable, so we opted to sit at the bar, which was nice because we got to observe the chefs at work.
For our first dish, SB chose the Grilled Squid ($7.80). I generally avoid ordering squid at restaurants (other than calamari), because it tends to be too tough. However, the squid here was very tender while still retaining chewiness and a tad of rubberiness. It was also not too oily and was firm on the outside, but soft on the inside. I also liked that it was sliced into nice, bite-size portions for us, and served with garlic mayo on the side. The mayo was flavourful and provided a slightly spicy and rich aftertaste, which was lovely. We were both pleasantly surprised by this deceptively simple dish.
Next, we found the Salt, Pepper, and Sesame Oil Marinated Tuna Sashimi ($6.80) on the daily specials sheet. Here, we could clearly taste the salt, pepper, and sesame oil present in the dish. The sashimi was served alongside some veggies, garlic chips, and onions, which both soaked up the sesame oil and ended up being nice and flavourful. The fish itself tasted quite fresh and was a little chewy, but also soft, with an almost toro-like texture. We were quite happy with that since we’re huge fans of toro.
And to deviate from the seafood theme, we also had the Beef Tenderloin Steak Rice Bowl ($9.80). This was so incredibly satisfying. The beef was cooked medium rare and was nicely tender, while oozing with red juices. Meanwhile, the bowl was hot enough that the rice formed a nice crust, and the garlic chips added a nice punch of flavour. There was also some soy sauce included that kept the mixture from getting too bland, and the egg added moisture without making the mixture too wet. I found that the ingredients really balanced each other out, making for quite a yummy meal.
Being who he is, SB was still hungry after all this, so we also shared the Assorted Sashimi ($16) off of the specials sheet. For that price point, we were expecting nothing but the best. What we got was very fresh scallop and salmon sashimi, along with some tuna tataki. First off, the scallops tasted a bit too fishy, but were very smooth and buttery. Personally, scallops are my favourite type of seafood (when cooked), but I enjoyed the tataki the most here. It had formed a nice crust that added a bit of flavour, while the inner layer of sashimi was smooth and naturally sweet. Similarly, the salmon retained its natural sweetness and texture. Overall, all of the sashimi was quite satisfying.
And that’s the word I would use to describe our dinner here: satisfying. All of the dishes were well-prepared and tasty. I think I’m probably a bit biased because izakayas are my favourite places to eat, but then again, I’ve often had not-so-great experiences with the Guu franchise, especially the Thurlow location. Based on this experience, though, I would highly recommend stopping by Guu Garlic for a bite to eat!
1698 Robson Street