Guu Garden Izakaya on Nelson and Hornby

by Victoria on January 12, 2010

First of all, I just want to apologize for my hiatus on posting over the last few days – things have been really busy, especially leading up to the Vancouver 2010 Olympics.  I’ve been helping out with some preparations at the warehouse for the online Olympic Store, but that should all be done with for now so I can get back to my regular eating writing schedule.

Anyway, now I’m back and finally able to tell you all about my dining experience at the new Guu restaurant in downtown Vancouver, just at the corner of Nelson and Hornby – Guu Garden (above Relish, where Okada used to be). And yes, it is as good as you’ve come to know them if you’ve been to the one of the other four locations in Vancouver (or one in Toronto).

The new izakaya just opened up last Thursday, the 7th of January, and is open for dinners daily from what I can tell (they still haven’t managed to update their website with the latest space, so I only know they aren’t currently open for lunch since I tried to go for lunch initially).  Because I couldn’t make it there on opening night, I went the following evening with a co-worker to welcome in the weekend.  Make sure if you go by soon you don’t get turned off by all of the building renovations – you can still get in by the staircase on the West side (off of Hornby).

Walking in the door, we were greeted with a warm and boisterous Japanese welcome from a variety of the staff (irashaimase!), and were seated right away at one of the tables with cute white chairs topped with multi-coloured seat covers.  To the left was one very large table which would be great for parties with about 20 people, while the sushi bar was straight ahead when walking through the doors, and another collection of tables was to the right.

Miso Oden with Heart, Tofu, Pork Belly Rating: 4Rating: 4Rating: 4Rating: 4Rating: 4

Sitting down in this casual, upbeat atmosphere, we grabbed the menus that are placed on each table, with napkins and chopsticks, and set off on an ordering rampage.  We started by selecting a variety of items for the miso oden soup (they also have a kanto-daki oden broth option).  The chicken hearts, deep fried tofu, and pork belly came in the first serving, while the yam was served separately next.  I did notice that the texture of the hearts was a bit chewy, but everything else was cooked just right!  And the yam was something that we couldn’t stop eating, although we were trying not to get too full before the rest of the tapas arrived.

Yam Miso Oden Rating: 4Rating: 4Rating: 4Rating: 4Rating: 4

Next came the Tuna and Melon Granité, which was kind of like a ceviche, served chilled.  This had some melon-flavoured crushed iced on top in addition to the pieces of honeydew throughout, and there was also an abundance of tuna.  The only issue I had with this dish was that there seemed to be too much of it!  It came in a larger portion than some of the others, and I thought it would’ve been best if served in a smaller tower.  Don’t get me wrong – it was definitely refreshing and would especially be great on a summer day, but it’s a whole lot of fish to have served that way at once.

Tuna and Melon Granite Rating: 3.5Rating: 3.5Rating: 3.5Rating: 3.5Rating: 3.5

The Fried Chicken with garlic mayo dip was one of my favourites of the night.  It had a crispy shell but was cooked just right on the inside so that it was still tender and moist, and the best part was when you got a bite of the delicious skin (hey, I didn’t say it was healthy)!

Fried Chicken and Garlic Mayo Rating: 4.5Rating: 4.5Rating: 4.5Rating: 4.5Rating: 4.5

After taking a look at their daily fresh sheet, we decided we needed to try at least one of these items as well and went with the Monkfish Liver.  Neither of us had eaten it before and thought it sounded like it could be really tasty.  This came served in a light broth with pea shoots.  It had an interesting (in a good way) light ‘livery’ flavour and texture and I would recommend this if you’re into that sort of thing!

Monkfish Liver Rating: 4.5Rating: 4.5Rating: 4.5Rating: 4.5Rating: 4.5

The Mayo Grilled Miso Marinated Black Cod (or Gindara) reminded me a lot of an Oyster Motoyaki, but with the buttery melt-in-your-mouth flavours of this type of fish. Very rich and delicious!

Mayo Grilled Miso Marinated Black Cod Rating: 4Rating: 4Rating: 4Rating: 4Rating: 4

Of course, we also had to order the Original Yakiudon and both of us really enjoyed this as well – we managed to finish off the entire plate even though it was filled with carbs and the last dish to arrive.  As you can see, this was served with beef, mushrooms, green onions, and topped with nori flakes.

Original Yakiudon Rating: 4.5Rating: 4.5Rating: 4.5Rating: 4.5Rating: 4.5

For dessert, we went with the Almond Ice Cream. I love almond-flavoured or almond anything pretty much, and usually add the syrup to my decaf lattes or eat large quantities of marzipan-filled chocolates and treats.  Although this ice cream was super sweet, it was served in a small scoop, which was perfect for the strong flavour – my dining companion wasn’t really into it, but she did say she’s not a fan of marzipan.

Almond Ice Cream Rating: 3.5Rating: 3.5Rating: 3.5Rating: 3.5Rating: 3.5

Guu was great – I loved the casual and fun atmosphere, the funky decor (especially those chairs!) and the yummy fare!  It’s location is also very handy and I know I will be back often. 🙂

Guu Garden
M101-888 Nelson Street
Vancouver, BC, V6Z 2H2
View Map

Overall: Rating: 4.5Rating: 4.5Rating: 4.5Rating: 4.5Rating: 4.5
Rating: 4.5Rating: 4.5Rating: 4.5Rating: 4.5Rating: 4.5
Rating: 4.5Rating: 4.5Rating: 4.5Rating: 4.5Rating: 4.5
Rating: 4.5Rating: 4.5Rating: 4.5Rating: 4.5Rating: 4.5
Price: $
(keep in mind these dishes are served as tapas, so our bill came to approximately $62)

Guu Garden on Urbanspoon

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Melody Fury January 12, 2010 at 9:59 am

The oden was yummy. Enjoyed the chicken heart and had their little purple Japanese yams with it… mmm 🙂 Monkfish liver’s great as well but mine didn’t come with the egg! You must try the kabocha pudding! It’s my fav dessert there!

Anthony S. January 12, 2010 at 12:19 pm

Is it at least bigger than the other guu’s so dun hav to wait forever to get seat like others lol…looks nicer from pix

Victoria January 12, 2010 at 12:21 pm

Yes it is larger – also more modern. We didn’t have to wait at all this time, but we’ll have to see what happens once more people realize that it’s opened up!

Mike January 12, 2010 at 10:40 pm

Just the 2 of you ate all that food?! wow…

MizzJ January 25, 2010 at 7:55 pm

This sounds great! I cannot wait to try this, although I might just wait until the daunting facade of reno is gone.

Victoria January 25, 2010 at 7:57 pm

MizzJ – apparently Relish is opening back up downstairs on February 1st (or around there), so maybe all the reno craziness over the whole building will be gone around then…

jake January 29, 2010 at 1:43 pm

How were the prices compared to other the guu?
With the decor and everything, i would expect higher prices.

Victoria January 29, 2010 at 2:45 pm

Jake, the prices seemed to be comparable to me!

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