At Church and McGill Street (just south of College) sits Toronto’s most talked about new Japanese restaurant. Guu Izakaya brought me right back to Japan. I arrived at 4:40pm on St Patty’s day and expected to just walk into the restaurant. The restaurant is Japanese through and through. There is a very organized procedure for restaurant entry. I was luckily the first person in line but was amused by how quickly it grew behind me. By 5pm (the official opening hour) there was a line reaching the curb. This restaurant is the first restaurant from a family of Izakaya restaurants which operate in British Colombia (mostly the Vancouver burbs) that has made its way outside of the west coast. The restaurant has received loads of press. Ranked as one of the best new restaurants in the city by Toronto Life magazine and also had several write ups during its first few days of opening as the line ups were notoriously long (up to three hours). Make sure to arrive early to ensure that you get a seat…or be prepared to stand in line.
The door opens and a cute little Japanese hostess welcomes one group from the line at a time into the restaurant space. Once inside the hostess screams a welcome at the main entrance and all of the staff (including those in the kitchen) respond with a jovial chorus. Once seated I was given a warm towel to clean my hands and I was once again sung a rather beautiful “thank you for dining with us,” in Japanese.
The vibe is hustle and bustle. Don’t expect to be able to have a clear conversation during your dining experience but do expect a happy and loud Japanese bar experience. The food is affordable, well presented and delicious. Please do order the massive 9 dollar jugs of Sapporo beer. They make you a bit tipsy and add to the boisterous ambiance of Guu.
Gyu Shabu Salad: sliced boiled beef on greens with black sesame sauce.
Maguro Tataki: lightly seared BC albacore tuna sashimi with ponzu sauce and garlic chips.
Kobocha Korokke: deep fried pumpkin croquette with boiled egg inside.
#56 restaurant reviewed in Ontario since moving to Toronto in 2010.