I promised myself I would satisfy my Japanese cravings this summer. Despite having only been to a few places, I think I still got a good glance into this particular cuisine. At least I am now much more familiar with menus of sushi, sashimi, maki and rolls, dons, noodles, and a wide variety of appetizers. So what better way than to temporarily end my Japanese food journey in Greater Vancouver this summer than a trip to Guu Richmond? It had to be with my sashimi and spice-loving friend Jessica, of course. We were welcomed by so many of the servers and workers, both busy going from table to table or working behind the bar. With all the tables reserved, the two of us took a seat at the bar, a cool experience in my opinion.
First, they started us off with a complimentary small appetizer or tsukidashi, the Potato Salad. It was just your typical potato salad, not distinctly Japanese at all. The potatoes were nicely mashed for the most part and mixed with a good dressing that tasted mostly of a tangy and creamy mayonnaise. Mixed into it were bits of carrots, cucumbers, and corn. The lettuce leaves added a nice presentation to the dainty dish.
Our Salmon Yukke arrived first. This was one of my favourites of the night. The chopped salmon were marinated in a sweet garlic sauce. It was rather sweet and thus I loved it, with just the slight bit savoury flavour of soy sauce. The salmon was tender and fresh. I loved the addition of pine nuts on top to give it an extra crunch besides the chopped pieces of romaine. It was served with five pieces of nori and a raw quail egg. The nori tied each bite together and I found the egg rather enjoyable, also slightly sweetened somehow. I love a runny yolk any day.
The Kimchi Udon was also delicious. The udon noodles were perfectly cooked, chewy and al dente. When noodles are thick but still very chewy, they become one of my favourite dishes. They were coated nicely with a salty butter sauce that had a gritty but creamy texture. It made the noodles incredibly flavourful, especially with the kimchi and a little more sauce on top. The spiciness went well with the butter sauce. The spicy cod roe and shredded nori completed the dish. This was certainly my favourite udon dish ever!
The 3 Kinds of Beef Tongue (Grilled, Minced, Boiled) was certainly interesting. My favourite was the grilled type. Each slice was perfectly tender and chewy. The texture was quite smooth and it almost melted in your mouth. Only little parts near the edges were a little rough and tendon-y. It had a nice savoury flavour and the teriyaki-like sauce that went with it tasted amazing. The minced beef tongue was made into a huge meatball and served with a sunny side up quail egg. The egg yolk was not runny, much to my disappointment, but it was not exactly very dry either. The minced tongue was nicely seasoned and tender. The meat was still moist. Finally, I found the boiled tongue to be a little plain, even when eaten with the squeeze of lemon, alfalfa, and dipping soy sauce. It was tender and had a chewy texture much like a sausage. However, there was just no flavour here.
The Aberdeen Roll was full of delicious ingredients; it was a roll filled with spicy salmon and tuna sashimi, avocado, and cucumber, topped with BBQ unagi, masago, some sort of shredded thing, and fried garlic chips, and drizzles with teriyaki sauce, mango sauce, and egg. The sashimi were not exactly very spicy but were quite fresh. The avocado added creaminess while the cucumber added a refreshing crunch. The rice was not the greatest though, a little bland and a little mushy in some parts. The BBQ unagi on top was sweet and yummy, as were the various toppings. I especially enjoyed the fried garlic chips and the teriyaki and mango sauces, giving the roll a light sweetness.
Another special of the day we ordered was the Garlic Soysauce Marinate Eggplant. The eggplant was cut in such a unique way, in a crisscross method, much like the treatment of cuttlefish. Each piece was soft and mushy but soaked up the garlic soy sauce flavour that was quite lovely. However, the sauce was covered in a layer of oil so the dish was quite greasy for a vegetable appetizer. I loved the sweet and savoury flavour though, which led me to eat the radish, romaine, sweet garlic chives, and the other vegetables at the bottom. I love mushy, flavourful eggplants, so this was one of my favourites of the night!
Finally, to warm up a little, we decided on the Kimchi Nabe for more spicy food. It came in a stone hot pot with lots of kimchi in a slightly thickened soup base flavoured with oyster sauce. It was too salty, though, so I am glad we shared it. The pieces of pork looked tough but were rather tender when eaten. The tofu was also soft but could have been even softer. There was not much pork and tofu, but we did not expect there to be for $6. It was a spicy and warming ending to the meal.
I love the casual ambiance of the restaurant. It is a very friendly place, clean and filled with happy workers to uplift the mood. Despite the slightly pricey menu, they offer a good variety and it was interesting to see them make all the food behind the bar. All of the servers shouted goodbye in Japanese when we left and I look forward to try another Guu location in the near future.