KINKA ON BLOOR

Guu-Saka-Bar

 

Update 02/26/2017: Guu Sakabar has been renamed to Kinka Izakaya

Guu is one of my favourite restaurants in Toronto. I used to be one of the people lining up at 5:00pm outside their Church St location. When their second location at Bloor and Bathurst opened I was there at least once a month. I find that I compare all of my izakaya experiences in Toronto to a benchmark of Guu. They were my first and still is my favourite.

Atmosphere: The restaurant is loud. The servers heartily greet new arrivals and departures alike in Japanese. It’s a boisterous environment and I love sitting at the bar to watch the dishes being prepared. At the Bloor location there is also a dining area to sit without shoes, zashiki style. Unlike other Japanese restaurants that offer zashiki where you sit legs folded on the floor, the room at Guu has the tables built sunken into the ground so it’s still possible to sit normally without shoes. I love this design. Your legs don’t get cramped or tired and you can sit for hours enjoying the giant mugs of sapporo and delicious food.

Service: It’s a busy place. The servers run around the restaurant and sometimes it’s hard to get someone’s attention. However every server always greets you with a smile and is happy to help when you get their attention. Most of the dishes are cooked in batches, so it might be a bit of a wait for some items. I’ve never found this to be an issue since the typical order is a large number of different items and food generally arrives quickly.

Food: Guu offers a special menu that changes daily with food and drink specials. I always order off of the daily special first and have rarely been disappointed. They do run out of ingredients though. I stopped by the Church location once at 10pm and there were only 2 special items left still available. The portions at Guu are smaller izakaya style and prices are reasonable, but if you want to try a lot of dishes I recommend going with a group of 3-4 people.That way everyone gets a good bite of plate without having to order duplicates. The bill can add up if you go hungry and are ordering drinks as well. My bill usually comes to $40-$60 / person, drinks, tax and tip included. The menu is separated into sections based on the main ingredient (ie. noodles, rice) and how the foods are cooked (ie. cold dishes, fried).

Every sashimi dish I’ve ever ordered has been super fresh, beautifully plated and cut. I include at least one sashimi item with every order. This visit it was the just the BF and I so I had to carefully choose what to order. I have a reputation of ordering too much food, always. From the special menu, we ordered the wings, scallop carpaccio and deep fried corn dog sausage stuffed with cheese. We rounded off the meal with the carbonara udon and grilled black cod from their regular menu, staples of every visit.

Wings are a new dish to Guu. They’ve started running wing nights on Monday and Tuesdays with a combo price for wings and a pitcher of sapporo. The wings were lightly battered and I liked the spicy chipotle vinegar topping. I can’t see Guu becoming my wings destination, but if it’s added to the menu I would order them again. Scallop sashimi is my favourite ever since my first visit to Japan. The dish at Guu was amazing, light, a hint of acidity on top of the natural sweetness of the scallops.  The sausage was ok. The cheese inside was melted and tasted great, again though it just wasn’t the kind of dish I would visit Guu for. The first of our two tried and true dishes, the carbonara udon, was a creamy, bacony, yolky noodle dish that was slurped up quickly. I love the poached egg and the fusion flavours. This dish is only on the menu at the Bloor location and I highly recommend it. Similarly the miso glazed black cod is another must try. The texture of the fish is like butter and the miso glaze is grilled to a perfect crispy finish.

As always, I left Guu content, satisfied and looking forward to my next visit. In the spring, Guu started offering a lunch menu at both of their locations and now takes reservations. It’s easier now than ever to get your Guu fix, and this is a most dangerous thing. Guu-Saka-Bar Guu-Saka-Bar Guu-Saka-Bar Guu-Saka-Bar Guu-Saka-Bar Guu-Saka-Bar Guu Sakabar on Urbanspoon