Sherman's Food Adventures: Guu with Garlic

Guu with Garlic

Sometimes going back to the classics is not such a bad thing.  Of course we generally are interested in the newest places, but we are always taking a chance with our hard-earned money because we really don't know if it will be good or meh.  So with Izakaya on my mind and meeting up with Sexy Mexi (she was in town and this was a little bit ago), we decided on something that was walking distance from where she was staying - Guu with Garlic (excuse the old stock photo, didn't want to take a new one...).  Yes, this is still one of my favs because it is reasonably-priced and consistent.  We were lucky to score a table pretty quickly.

We kicked off the festivities with the Garlic Soy Marinated Eggplant.  I thought the texture of the eggplant was just right as it was tender yet not mushy.  There was a good sponginess to it and it soaked up the garlic soy so it was full-flavoured.  However, it wasn't too salty nor too sweet.  The addition of garlic chips on top added an aromatic crunch while the green onions provided some brightness.

Continuing on with the cold dishes, we went for the Tuna Tataki as well with ponzu sauce.   Looking at the picture, you can tell that the albacore tuna was uniformly and lightly seared on the outside.  Hence the entirety of the tuna was still soft and raw.  It was fresh with a mild natural sweetness.  Dipping it into the ponzu on the plate added just enough salty tanginess.  This was also topped with garlic chips and green onions.

Now one of the underrated dishes in my opinion is the Chicken Nanban.  For those who aren't familiar, it is merely chicken karaage tossed in sour soy sauce and served with a side of tartar sauce.  Yes, I know tartar is usually a condiment for seafood, but it works here as the chicken merely replaces fish, but is still fried.  You get a salty sour thing going on, then the tartar adds a creamy sweet tanginess.

So probably one of the most predictable items we ordered was the Ebi Mayo.  It isn't a visit to an izakaya without ordering this right?  The shrimp was nicely textured being meaty with a snap while the tempura batter was crunchy and not too thick.  Loved how they didn't overdo it with the spicy mayo.  It was certainly there with its creamy spice, but it wasn't drowning the crunchy shrimp.  Oh and the shrimp chips were a nice bonus.

The largest item we got was the Miso Pork Cutlet with onsen egg, green onion and spicy miso sauce in a hot stone bowl.  I thought the pork cutlet itself was a little stiff, yet at the same time, it was tender.  The panko coating was crunchy and was a nice contrast to the soft egg and chewy rice.  Sizzling hot, the bowl helped from a socarrat on the bottom.  As for the miso sauce, it had a mild kick while exhibiting the usual fermented saltiness.

Not far behind in size (with the rice, the Tokujyo! Harami or grilled premium hanger steak was a beautiful medium rare (the most you should cook this anyways).  There was good flavour as hanger steaks usually have a good meatiness.  It was quite tender and moist.  This was pretty substantial for the $16.80 price tag.  It was finished off with a BBQ sauce which was sweet and salty with a touch of tang.  One of my favourite dishes of the meal.

Another favourite was the Tontoro just because it is one of my preferred cuts of pork.  The appealingly chewy and bouncy texture of the meat has such a beautiful mouth-feel.  Now it also has to be prepared correctly and the tontoro was nicely grilled with a noticeable char.  It was smoky on the outside and slightly crispy.  The texture was exactly how I described it and a simple ponzu was all it needed for seasoning.

Lastly, we went for the Saikyo Miso Marinated Grilled Black Cod.  Yes, it was $26.00 (like most places), but was completely worth it.  The buttery flakiness of the fish was exactly the desired texture.  It was beautifully grilled so that there was caramelization and the miso really came through.  Another favourite of this visit.  Really, all of the food was solid and that is what we expected.  Guu still does it right and it is no wonder they are always busy.
The Good:
- Solid eats
- Generally reasonable pricing
- Decent selection

The Bad:
- Cramped seating but not many izakayas are spacious anyways
- Hard to get a table sometimes


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