Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Guu with Garlic, my current favourite restaurant

Okay, I really love this place. I've told everyone I know about it. I haven't had a bad experience ever, and I've been there about six times, all in the last year. This place had me at hello. Charming, loud, funky, authentic-feeling little izakaya type place. Busy, young, incredible value, super-nice staff, beautiful plate presentations (gotta love that Japanese aesthetic), interesting menu, including a full sheet of daily specials. Outstanding value. They even play music I like (jazz, when I've been there), which is icing on the cake. And even a fun place to drink cocktails. (For cocktails, I also like the other Guu in Gastown. The cocktails are a blast there - frozen balls of juice floating around some of them). The flip side? Guu with Garlic doesn't take reservations, and there's often a wait (go early or really late), the charming screeching of the servers when they stand next to you and shout the orders to the kitchen is not always so...well, charming, when people want to go out for a nice meal. However, I've had some incredibly romantic, quiet conversation evenings, dining out on their patio in the summer, so choose that area if the screeching isn't your thing. The second time I went to this restaurant, I was having a romantic dinner. They are supposed to close their patio down at night, probably because of the surrounding residences. Last call for food was 10:00 pm, and they let us know when we sat outside that they could move us inside if we were still there, which was fine with us, but the waiter (perhaps he manages the restaurant?) let us sit out there, the two of us, and let us have our romantic meal (no, we weren't being gross) without ever letting us feel rushed. Anyway, go, just go. Let me know what you think. You've gotta like Japanese flavours though. Don't go if you don't. Oh, and I love those Takoyaki - reminds me of eating festival street food in Japan. Better than any corndog. They are little fried balls of batter with a small piece of octopus in the middle, and dressed with mayonnaise and that tonkatsu sauce, and bits of seaweed. And all these little dishes are only $4-8! There are a number of hot little "tapas" places where you would have to pay $11-14 a dish. The only change I would make is for them to bring back the lychee juice for their juice/vodka cocktails. Oh, and I don't go into the fancy little room to the left of the entrance anymore cuz I can't sit on the floor comfortably for long.


Anonymous said...

Not sure how it compares with the guu restaurants, but for izakaya-style Japanese I've had a lot of fun and good food at Hapa Izakaya, further down Robson. It's a bit on the noisy side every time I've been there (good for a bunch of friends, less good if you want to get to know someone other than by what they're eating, but that's a different topic altogether). Last time I was there, I was part of a group of about 8, and we ordered one of everything on the menu. Twice. When you have a 15-item menu, that was a good way to try everything out and ensure everyone gets well-fed!


Dumpling_Girl said...

Thanks so much for the comment!

I really enjoyed my meal at Hapa the two times I went there. I then tried to book my birthday party there, and they were going to insist on a set menu for my group (I think they told me that they were starting a set menu for any group of 8 or more), and it was $40/person. I didn't want to force my friends to do that, so I wound up going with a nice little greek restaurant on Broadway, Alexis, that had plenty of room, and no minimum per person (and wound up having a blast with about 18 people). Great little place, though their calamari has never been as good as the first time I went there. I was put off of Hapa from the experience of trying to book with them, and their insisting that they had this new set menu policy but they were unable to produce a menu for me to find out what they wanted to serve, and having them leave a message on my phone with no return number, and having difficulty finding their number, and emailing them, then having someone else from the restaurant contact me, not sure if I was still coming or not. Anyway, I'm sure they must be more organized now about it. Guu is cheaper, more authentic feeling, and to me, more charming because of the casualness of the place. But Hapa is fun - how can you not have fun when someone brings a fish and a blowtorch to your table?