At Guu Restaurant in Richmond, this is how they say goodbye:
They do this for EVERYONE. Hilarious, right? It’s indicative of our entire experience, which was more fun than even this guy’s having.
If you’re considering going to Guu, here are some helpful points to consider:
-You must be ok with loud music and louder voices. Actually, you must be ok with straight-up shouting.
-You should be relatively adventurous when it comes to food.
-You’re ok with Asian fusion.
-You like happy, smiling servers.
-You’re cool with food coming out as it’s made, rather than all at once.
-You’re familiar with late 90’s pop music and ready to be swept back to your highschool years when Mariah’s “Heartbreaker” comes on.
Basically, if you’re planning to take your elderly grandmother here for a relaxing meal, you should probably reconsider.
Dining at Guu is an experience, and here’s part of the reason why: rather than writing down and transferring orders by hand or computer to the kitchen, servers shout orders from wherever they are, and they’re echoed back by the chefs. It makes for a loud and entertaining game of verbal volleyball.
The menu comes in various pieces; there’s a drink menu, another for sushi, a dinner menu, and the day’s specials. We decided to forgo sushi and charge fully ahead in the izakaya style, ordering a variety of small plates to accompany our drinks. In Spain it’s tapas, in Italy it’s aperitivo, in Japan it’s izakaya, and everywhere it’s fun. We each ordered 2-3 dishes and shared them as they came. I was joined by my sister Kate and my friends Joel Gorrie and Joel Mason. Kate’s in town for a few days before heading to South America, Joel M. is visiting from St. Paul’s (what’s up Minnesotaaaa!), and I’m sure you remember Joel G. from our day of strawberry picking. The Joels and the Andersons, what a party. Here they are hanging out in the infamous Aberdeen Mall Parkade!
We ordered from both the specials’ sheet and dinner menu. Of the specials we tried the Beef Tongue 3 ways ($9.80), Sticky Rice stuffed Squid ($8.80), Wasabi Mashed Potatoes Wrapped in Smoked Salmon ($7.80), and Scallop Carpaccio with Wasabi Dressing ($6.80). From the menu (prices all available here) we had several kinds of oden (which is a hot pot, though they were rather plain and we probably wouldn’t order it again); Ahi tuna steak marinated in garlic, soy, and sake (Maguro Steak); Udon with Kimchi; and stewed pork belly with daikon, poached egg, and steamed buns (Kakuni). And what drinks did these dishes accompany? We tried the Guuu’d Ale brewed by Russell Brewery (on the sweeter, caramel-y side), some Lychee juice (pale pink, bright, and refreshing), the sweet potato (dan dan) shochu, and some cold Momokawa sake, brewed in Oregon! The sake was my favourite – strongly apple and melon on the nose, and crisp on the tongue with a banana finish. All this, but not sweet. We had no trouble finishing the bottle.
The dishes we’d order again were the beef tongue, wasabi potatoes and salmon, the Maguro Steak, and the Kakuni. The beef tongue was prepared three ways: smoked, hamburg-style with a fried quail egg, and marinated.
Each was distinct, and each was incredible. The marinated tongue was like the most rich, fatty, tender piece of brisket in existence, and literally melted. Upon tasting the hamburg with fried egg, we all wondered why we’ve never requested ground beef tongue at the butcher for making burgers. The smoked tongue slices had a firmer texture, but were so flavourful, especially when dipped in the accompanying sauce. Joel M. captured our sentiment perfectly when he sat back, considered the dish for a moment, and said “Hmmm, I never imagined I’d be fighting people over the last remnants of a tongue.”
The wasabi mashed potatoes in smoked salmon had us all fist-pumping the air; they were simple, bite-size, and powerful little explosions of cool, creamy spice.
The marinated Maguro Steak was seared perfectly, and tasted of everything promised; garlic, soy, sake and tuna. I loved it.
Above all others, the Kakuni (stewed pork belly) was the evening’s rock star, or should I say pop star seeing as it was chewed to the stellar sounds of Beyonce. The pork was slowly braised and served with a large chunk of soft, sweet daikon (probably cooked in the same liquid), a cold poached egg, and small steamed buns. Eaten together, these were all so good I wanted to shout my praises, which in Guu would have gone unnoticed anyways so I might as well have.
I enjoyed having the kimchi udon as a side, though it wasn’t everyone’s favourite. I think I’m just on a real kimchi kick right now.
The scallop carpaccio was good, but the plate and dish were almost too cold, and I found the flavour of wasabi overwhelmed the scallops.
Though the sticky rice was tasty, we found the rice-stuffed squid to be a bit tough.
For dessert, I’d recommend going with a bowl of the green tea ice cream, which had a pure matcha flavour. It was a refreshing way to end the meal.
The apple cheesecake was more jelly-like than we expected (very different from the New York-style), and though I wouldn’t order it again, I appreciated that it wasn’t too sweet.
While the food and drink (totalling $135.07) were great, what really made this meal was the rambunctious atmosphere, and our servers Eriko and Kenji. They were two of the most genuine people I’ve ever encountered in a restaurant, and so helpful; when my sister stood to look for the bathroom, Kenji literally came running from the other end of the restaurant to show her the way. I could have hugged them both when we left, but in addition to them being extremely busy, I didn’t want to look like an idiot.
Guu is a place to go with friends, enjoy drinks, taste all kinds of food, and have a very good time. Just remember this place isn’t really grandmother-friendly, unless you have a grandmother who went through a Backstreet Boys phase and wants to kick it 90’s-style with some American-brewed sake in hand. And if that is case, can you please invite me along when you take her?