First off, we had more fun at GUU Izakaya than we have had at any restaurant in quite a while. From when you enter awash in the smells of faraway home and the initial cheer of ‘irasshaimase!!!’ (a Japanese honorary welcome) shouted from every direction by all the staff, as well as many patrons, giving one a surprise birthday party feeling – one knows they are in a ‘good place!’ We, along with all the other diners, laughed, smiled, oohed, ahhed, and generally giggled for an entire meal. The food is absolutely delicious- and the booze flowing freely – certainly added to the festive atmosphere!
GUU has 2 locations in Toronto and 6 locations in Vancouver where the tradition began. We visited both of the two locations in Toronto and although the Bloor street location has beautiful low siting room, the Church street location became our favorite with its hyped-up energetic atmosphere.
The two restaurants were designed by the architecture & interiors firm Dialogue 38 ; the façade consists of gray slate tiles with scattered 10cm square windows filtering enough light to the interior, and at the same time serving as peepholes to the passing pedestrian who is able to peer into the informal communal tables that fill the space under hanging lightbulbs. On the far side, a bar is exposed to a lively kitchen where the cooks call out loud every ready dish out for the waitstaff. We found this the best place to sit as you can choose your plates by whatever tempts your pallet as the dishes pass by.
GUU is a lively fun destination serving in the Izakaya style, which refers to type of Japanese drinking establishment which also serves comfort food – and trust us during the evil Toronto winter – it is just the comfort you are craving!
The menu ranges from classic Japanese dishes, like Gomaae (blanched spinach with sesame sauce), to fusion tapas, like the tempura brie with mango and blueberry sauce – which is as obscene and decadent as it sounds! – and Takenoko & Atsuage Oden, a slow cooked hotpot with bamboo shoots and deep-fried tofu.
GUU Izakaya Info
(1) 416 977-0999
398 Church St Toronto, ON M5B 2A2, Canada
(1) 416 343-1101
59 Bloor Street Toronto, ON MM5S 1Y6, Canada
DINNER: 17:00 – 23:30 Daily
LUNCH: 11:30 – 14:00 Monday – Friday