After months of hearing rave reviews about the food and listening to stories about the crazy line ups to get in - I finally made it to the popular Izakaya on Bloor Street.
It's very distinctive - the restaurant sign was a little hard to find...but they had this awesome menu by the door:
The Cool Tables! No kneeling required.
The normal menu and the Daily Menu
Nama Grapefruit - half a grapefruit, vodka and soda $6
The best part is the squeezing/juicing of the grapefruit!
Salmon Tataki and Maguro Tataki
Salmon Tataki was seared B.C. salmon sashimi with ponzu, wasabi mayo and garlic chips, while the Maguro Tataki was seared B.C. tuna sashimi with ponzu and garlic chips.
I didn't like the salmon tataki as much as the tuna tataki because of the wasabi mayo. I found that it made a huge difference because the sauce had such a strong and distinct taste that it overshadowed the actual flavour of the fish.
7 kinds of assorted sashimi for $30: salmon, sea urchin, tuna, yellowtail, sweet shrimp, lobster and scallop
It was all very fresh and yummy! This was my first time trying shrimp sashimi (I was super uncomfortable sucking out the head of the shrimp), lobster sashimi (which is really good) and sea urchin (I automatically thought of the uni sushi in the movie Jiro Dreams of Sushi)
Deep fried octopus balls with tonkatsu sauce and karashi mayo
The takoyaki was tasty but I didn't really taste the octopus inside the deep fried batter. Bonito flakes weren't too strong which was nice.
Fried tofu with mushroom sauce on sizzling plate
What a great vegetarian dish! I loved the meaty tofu steak and the mushroom sauce was delicious!
Grilled miso marinated beef short ribs
The group enjoyed these short ribs better than the short ribs we had at Daisho - very flavourful and no fat!
Deep fried soy sauce marinated chicken served with garlic mayo
Chunks of boneless white meat with a nice crispy finish. It's a relatively simple dish with simple flavours - I would rather eat fried chicken at Popeye's though.
Grilled miso marinated black cod with yuzu miso sauce
OMG - this was AMAZING! The meat was flaky, tender and just melted in your mouth with that delectable yuzu miso sauce. I would highly recommend ordering this dish! It's so good!
Baked B.C. oyster with mushroom, spinach, and garlic mayo topped with cheese.
This was an interesting appetizer to share...with all the mushrooms, spinach and cheese, it felt like a game of where's the oyster.
rice, mushroom & cheese with seaweed sauce in sizzling stone bowl
When they brought the bowl to the table, the waitress presented it to us and then proceeded to do some crazy quick mixing and served us this lovely bowl after. Yummy! The mushroom and seaweed sauce is a great combination and I love the stickiness of the cheese because it really held everything together.
Salmon Natto Yukke
chopped salmon sashimi with seven friends (natto, takuan, shibazuke, scallion, cucumber, garlic chips & raw egg yolk)
Originally, I wanted to stay very far away from this dish when I saw the word "Natto" in the name. For people that don't know, Natto is a popular breakfast dish in Japan of fermented soybeans. The soybeans have a really pungent smell and sticky stringy texture when stirred together. The first time I smelt natto in Japan, I found it extremely off-putting - so I've steered clear of it since.
My friend said that the seven friends dish was good the last time she tried it here - so I decided to give it a shot (and hope that the garlic chips, takuan: daikon radish and shibazuke: purple pickles would cover up the smell and taste of the natto). Maybe it was me, or maybe it was the strong stinky smell of the natto - but I couldn't bring myself to enjoy this dish.
deep fried chicken skin with ponzu sauce
Crispy and chewy at the same time...I guess that's fried chicken skin for you.
seared Hokkaido scallop carpaccio with yuzu pepper dressing
Delicious! The scallops were done wonderfully and the dressing was a great pairing for the dish.
Pan fried udon noodles with beef, mushrooms and scallion
Blowtorch cured mackerel pressed sushi
WOW! This was so delicious - each morsel was packed with flavour and perfect. We didn't get a blowtorch show like at Fin Izakaya, but the sushi was so good that it more than made up for it.
Today's assorted sashimi on greens - octopus, salmon and a white fish...
A nice salad - beautifully presented
creamy udon noodles with bacon, onion, and half boiled egg
The carbonara sauce was really tasty - I was quite impressed.
They also have a separate dessert menu and "Birthday menu" which we ordered this off of:
7 types of sake shooters!
Overall: I had a great experience at Guu Sakabar! It really gives the authentic Izakaya experience from beginning to end: you get the full bar experience with the random shouting and celebrations throughout the restaurant while you're eating and everything is share-able Izakaya's are best to go in bigger groups since you get to try more items (and it also helps to keep the per person cost a little lower since it tends to be more expensive on a per plate basis). The food is delicious! I was pretty happy with everything I had.