There is only a handful of Guu’s from the franchise that I enjoy, Guu Garden being one of them. Somewhat newly established, on the rooftop of Nelson, it boasts an expansive patio with a Japanese ‘garden’ feel complete with bonsai trees.
Course summer is all about the Sun and patios, with Cartop just coming from Hong Kong for a short vacation, I had to show him to one of my favourite izakayas. I noticed a few menu changes since the first time I’ve been here, along with price increases, which is understandable. They still have the hand written specials menu that other izakayas in lower mainland have, changing seasonally.
菊正宗 Kiku Masamune – taru
This sake was on their specials menu at a pretty reasonable price, and look at the bottle! Such a unique design, with a dainty little rope tied to the top, I’m a complete sucker for these kind of marketing stunts. I wished I had remembered to ask for the bottle so I could have taken it home. The sake itself is rather dry, but pretty easy going on the pallet and has a clean finish. Nicely chilled, it went great with the food we ordered and the weather.
Specials – salad
I wish I can make a habit of taking pictures of the menus, especially for restaurants that have a fresh sheet or is known to change their menus seasonally. This is one of those times; this salad was featured on their special menu, from the picture there is red bell peppers, iceberg lettuce, purple cabbage, radish and seaweed salad. The dressing seems to be some type of pesto along with a plum mixed in there as well. I don’t remember much of this dish, so it probably wasn’t that memorable in flavours to begin with. Judging by the looks, it would have been quite refreshing for the patio.
Unagi Nuku Sushi; steamed sushi in a traditional steamer, topped with BBQ eel & sliced omelet, served with dried seaweed & sansho pepper
Cartop wanted some carbs, so he ordered the what was closest in description to an Unagi Don. It came in a very cute Chinese steamer, with a wooden shamoji, it is served with a side dish of shibazuke. It was a good amount of Unagi for the price, but the rice was a bit too mushy for my liking. They had added too much water, making the rice very sticky. I wished they had added more flavour to the rice, such as more kabayaki sauce or furikake of some short, as it felt a bit bland. That or more omelet.
Specials – miso duck breast
Once again, I can’t give you further detail of this item because it was on the special sheet. The duck breast was done to a nice medium-well, with good flavours. The only complaint, which is the deal breaker for me, is that the skin was not rendered enough making it extremely chewy. I love my fats and fatty foods, but just chewing on raw fat that is not rendered crispy enough is a very disgusting feeling and texture. For most of this dish either the skin was removed, which really saddened me, or was quickly chewed and washed down with a shot of sake.
Despite some misses, Guu Garden is still one of my favourites. Food can never truly go bad, service always good and the only one with such a big patio to enjoy the night view of downtown. Another plus I find is that their alcohol markup is rather low for downtown izakayas, even for Guu’s standard, as there are minor discrepancy with each restaurant. Cartop is not much of an eater, so I couldn’t order half the stuff I really wanted to try. This is to go, without a doubt, I will come back to again and again.