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Izakaya, the traditional Japanese tapas concept, explodes with bona-fide flavour at this charming downtown pub. Fans gather for after-work delight in the form of such sweet small dishes as black cod and udon noodles, marinated octopus and deep-fried brie, all of it washed down with deep swallows of sake and Sapporo beer. Guests share bench-style seating and an appreciation for the authenticity of the place. The atmosphere here is loud and lively. When you order a dish, the waiters holler its details to the kitchen staff, who yell back confirmation that they’ve heard. From time to time, someone will start singing. The zingy energy is marvelous, and the izakaya experience enhanced spectacularly by it....
Izakaya, the traditional Japanese tapas concept, explodes with bona-fide flavour at this charming downtown pub. Fans gather for after-work delight in the form of such sweet small dishes as black cod and udon noodles, marinated octopus and deep-fried brie, all of it washed down with deep swallows of sake and Sapporo beer. Guests share bench-style seating and an appreciation for the authenticity of the place. The atmosphere here is loud and lively. When you order a dish, the waiters holler its details to the kitchen staff, who yell back confirmation that they’ve heard. From time to time, someone will start singing. The zingy energy is marvelous, and the izakaya experience enhanced spectacularly by it.
 

Review: Kampai!

 
By Adam Waxman, reviewed on March 25, 2010

At their Vancouver locations, they say it's like a "short trip to Tokyo". get drunk and have fun!. Well, why not. Upon entering Guu Izakaya, the first thing we notice in this subterranean looking room is the line up along the wall. Our hostess informs us the wait will be...

At their Vancouver locations, they say it's like a "short trip to Tokyo". get drunk and have fun!. Well, why not. Upon entering Guu Izakaya, the first thing we notice in this subterranean looking room is the line up along the wall. Our hostess informs us the wait will be around thirty to forty-five minutes. It is. Upon seating, all the Guu staff cheers "irrashaimase! on cue, to welcome us.

To begin, we need a drink. An izakaya is, after all, a place to sit and drink sake. The 3 Samurai ($6.80) come as a pyramid stack of sake boxes containing a rainbow of shot glasses: melon, blue curacao, and cassis. As we settle into our table and stools of hewn wood, we notice the menu contains no sushi or tempura. This is Japanese pub style.

Karaage ($5.80) comes as five large, deep-fried chunks of crispy, crunchy, soy sauce-marinated chicken. Hot and juicy, this is Japan's answer to the Colonel. The Ebimayo ($7.80) is six medium-sized shrimp crowned with a shrimp chip. They're not oily or overly battered.

Flavoured with Haccho miso, the Miso soup ($2.50) has a salty, beefy taste, like Bovril, rather than the clean broth we expect; the Okonomiyaki ($6.50) is a deep fried pancake--rather than pan fried--that could use some inspiration or some special ingredient, to make me want to try it again. The Yakiudon ($7.80) with beef and vegetables has that authentic grilled flavour that reminds me of the izakaya's I went to in Tokyo.

As we survey the room, we notice many guests peering at guests orders and wondering "what's that?! One dish that catches our attention is the Kakimayo ($6.80). Two grilled oysters, like a Japanese version of Oysters Rockefeller, come stuffed in their shell with mushrooms, garlic mayo, spinach and cheese. A tasty square of Raw B.C. Tuna ($5.50) is minced with sesame oil and teriyaki, and served on a stone plate. Like most menu items, it's a generous portion and inexpensive.

There are many dishes worth trying to accompany drinks and friends, and when we leave all the waiters cheer "arigatou gozaimasu! in unison. We exit with a smile.

Guu Izakaya
Price: All menu items, except drinks, are under ten dollars.
Atmosphere: Communal
Surprise Surprise: Two hour seating enforced.
Hint: This is a great spot for after work.

Reviews are meant to describe a dining out experience at a given period in time and are the personal opinion of the writer.
All meals are paid for, including all taxes and gratuities. All reservations are made under assumed names. Menu items, prices and individuals mentioned in this review may not be up to date. Dine.TO encourages its users to share their feedback.

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