My co-worker and I have been talking for a while about  this Food Friday featured restaurant.  Each time we walk by we always see a line of people outside and reading reviews on Urbanspoon, it confirmed that it was a must try!

[custom_box width=”60%” bgcolor=”#D5F2B6″ border_color=”#3F9F29″ text_color=”#3F9F29″ icon_url=”http://www.fionaman.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/knife-fork.jpg”]RESTAURANT: Guu Izakaya
ADDRESS: 398 Church St Toronto, ON M5B 1H5
CUISINE: Japanese, Tapas
PHONE: (416) 977-0999
WEBSITE: http://guu-izakaya.com/toronto[/custom_box]

“Chaotic Energy” are the two words best used to describe Guu Izakaya.  Throughout the meal, the high energy staff would shout out Japanese phrases and greet each guest leaving and entering the restaurant.  This is definitely not the place if you want to have a heart-to-heart or a private conversation with someone.  But if you want to try something new and out-of-the-ordinary, then the ambiance of this restaurant will suit you!

You might recognize the Guu name from the popular group of restaurants in Vancouver.  Guu Izakaya was the first restaurant that appeared in Toronto then Guu SakaBar followed.

If you’ve ever been to a Spanish Tapas type of restaurant, then you will be familiar with the style here.  The dishes are small and meant to be shared.  The menu not only offers classic Japanese dishes, but it also gives a more modern take.  The price ranges from $3 to $14 depending on the dish and if you’re adventurous and want to try different things on the menu, it will add up.

Enough about the restaurant, let’s get to the dishes.  First off was the Lobster Steak.  Apart from Guu’s regular menu, they also have a special one.  The lobster was perfectly cooked and with the garlic soy sauce, it made it more succulent.

poached lobster

LOBSTER STEAK
with garlic soy sauce

I love unagi (aka bbq eel) but was a bit apprehensive in ordering the Unagi Doria because it had cheese in it.  In my mind, bbq eel, rice, and cheese should not meld together as the cheese would overpower the taste of the eel and the bbq sauce.  But whatever cheese they chose, it enhanced the flavour of the dish and allowed the eel to remain the star.

UNAGI DORIA bbq water eel on mixed mushroom rice with cheese on top

UNAGI DORIA
bbq water eel on mixed mushroom rice with cheese on top

My co-worker and I are huge fans of Top Chef Masters and we always see Chef Douglas Keane using ponzu.  Never trying it before, we were intrigued and decided to order the Maguro Tataki.  The tuna was fresh as can be and was lightly seared.  The ponzu added a refreshing tartness to the dish.  What elevated the flavour profile were the garlic chips.  It was crisp and didn’t get soggy when submerged in the ponzu.

MAGURO TATAKI seared BC tuna sashimi with ponzu and garlic chips

MAGURO TATAKI
seared BC tuna sashimi with ponzu and garlic chips

From all the reviews I read, everyone was raving about the Kakimayo.  This is a very cheese and mayo heavy dish.  Unfortunately I did not jump on the same boat as everyone else.  While all the ingredients worked well together and was quite the indulgence, I was hoping for more oyster.  Instead it felt like I was primarily consuming mushrooms.

KAKIMAYO baked BC oyster with mushrooms, spinach and garlic mayo, topped with cheese

KAKIMAYO
baked BC oyster with mushrooms, spinach and garlic mayo, topped with cheese

In one of the Quickfire challenges on Top Chef Masters, the chefs had to make a burger.  One of the chefs added spicy ketchup as a condiment and got the judge, who hated ketchup, to rave about it.  This is what primarily drew me to the Ikapiri.  The texture of the calamari would be comparable to the fried squish dish you get at dim sum.  It still retained it’s chewy texture.  But with the spicy ketchup coating the calamari, it was truly a decadent dish.

IKAPIRI deep fried calamari with spicy ketchup and wasabi mayo

IKAPIRI
deep fried calamari with spicy ketchup and wasabi mayo

At the end of every meal, you are served frozen grapes to help cleanse your palette from all the flavour profiles experienced during the meal.  This was definitely a nice touch.

I would definitely go back again to try some other dishes on the menu.  The only downside is that whoever you’re with, it is truly hard to have a conversation with due to the loudness of the staff.  This isn’t something you can fault them for as this is what brings the charm and make their restaurant unique in Toronto.  If you’re planning on going to Guu Izakaya, be prepared to spend a fair bit of money as ordering multiple small dishes will add up.

Guu Izakaya on Urbanspoon