Guu Garden Serves A
Miso, Savoury and Sweet,
Oden; so soothing
Guu is my favourite izakaya group in Vancouver, with Guu Garden being my preferred spot within the chain. It’s relatively quieter and less busy, probably because it’s somewhat hidden on a second floor that can only be access by a blink and you may miss it staircase. Since Guu Garden has been around for years, I’m pretty sure I’ve eaten everything of the regular menu. As a result I usually gravitate towards the always changing daily fresh sheet, which keeps each visit interesting.
Off the fresh sheet, we got the Lobster Salad, Duck Cha Sui, and 3 types of Assorted Sashimi.
The Lobster Salad was essentially a sashimi salad with a few chunks of raw lobster tossed in an herbed salad dressing. I have come to the conclusion that I prefer the taste and texture of cooked lobster. The raw version has a viscous quality I don’t find all that pleasant and taste that’s not as sweet. All the raw seafood (lobster,tuna, salmon, and tai) was fresh and the greens were crisp; not spectacular but a solid salad.
The Duck Cha Sui came as advertised. It had the same sweet flavour you would expect from a traditional Chinese bbq pork, albeit a few pieces were extra salty. The juicy medium well duck went well with the softened slivers of onions that were placed under the fowl. The mayo on the other hand was very unnecessary.
Guu Garden does a decent job with their sashimi offerings. We selected spot prawn, ahi tuna and king salmon. The raw fish was fresh and well cut.
The best part was they honored our request to deep fry the prawn heads. These crunchy bites were creamy and delicious.
From the regular menu, we got the Cauliflower and Chicken Karaage, Saba Shima Sushi, and the Miso Oden.
Between the Cauliflower and Chicken Karaage, the Chicken is the winner by huge margin and should be the only karaage you order off the Guu Garden menu.
The paprika dusted and thinly battered cauliflower dish was not very crispy. Each floret of cauliflower was soft and bland. The mayo once again was not helpful or needed.
In contrast, the chicken was crispy, juicy and seasoned well. The creamy mayo actually added something to this dish; it went well with the salty, and umami flavour of the chicken.
The flavours of the Saba Shima Suahi are great. The oiliness of the mackerel, enhanced by a slight torching, paired well with the tartness of the mustard and herbal profile of the shiso leaf. The complaint I have is the sushi is not well constructed. It’s hard to pick up each piece with out it falling apart.
Oden is simply foodstuffs in soup. At Guu Garden you get a menu of items to choose from and the option of either Kanto-daki or Miso for the soup base. It’s a very simple dish but its warmth is comforting, and perfect for a chilly wet Vancouver evening.
Normally I get the light soupier Kanto-daki Oden but I decided to try their Miso Oden. The miso version is so tasty and rich. The broth is thicker, glossy, and has a wonderful salty, sweet and savoury flavour.
From the a la carte menu, I went with an egg, daikon, fluffy fishcake and mochi tofu bag. For the most part, the miso soup base was the predominant flavour of the Oden. As a result I was more concerned with the textures of the foodstuffs I choose. The egg and daikon were great, but the fluffy fishcake and mochi tofu bag were a bit weird for me.
The fluffy fishcake reminded me of a really mushy soft egg tofu. The overly soft texture was not what expected and I didn’t enjoy it. The floury tasting and chewy texture of the mochi in the tofu bag also was off putting.
Despite the misstep of ordering the tofu mochi bag and puffy fishcake, I highly recommend the Miso Oden for the complex tasting broth.
Despite being around for several years, I always seem to able to have a new and enjoyable experience at Guu Garden by mixing and matching items from the daily fresh sheet and the regular menu.
Even though there were some duds in our dinner, the tastiness of the Miso Oden, Chicken Karaage and Sashimi Spot Prawn more than compensated for them. From my experiences, Guu Garden consistently churns out positive dining experiences.
M101 888 Nelson Street
Vancouver, BC V6Z 2H2
604 899 0855