Friday, April 1, 2011

Guu Sakabar aka "Guu 2"

*GASP* how time flies! It's been exactly one year since I've started Food Junkie Chronicles so Happy 1-Year Anniversary to meeee! This post is the 175th post on Food Junkie Chronicles and I must say, it's been absolutely amazing! I'm so glad I started blogging and I hope you enjoy reading Food Junkie Chronicles as much as I love blogging on it!^_^

What's even more cool is that my first blog post, exactly one year ago on April 2nd, 2010, was about my visit to Guu Izakaya (@GuuIzakaya) (I know it's one day off but close enough =P). And noooo, I did not purposely time this post to be that way - I had dinner at Guu Sakabar two days ago on Wednesday and when my fellow Tweeps on Twitter knew about this, a number of them told me that they can't wait to see my post on it as they are going to Guu Sakabar next week (you know who you are ^_*) So what is a nice food blogger like me to do? Well to be specific, I stayed up till 4AM last night, editing pictures and writing this post, which resulted in only 2 hours of sleep and getting into work late (also got into trouble by my boss). Oh yeah, I also have to write an exam later on today at 1PM. See what I would do for you guys?

Heyy, just a thought, wouldn't it be cool if exactly in one year's time (preferably around April 1 / 2 / 3, 2012) there is a "Guu 3" in Toronto for me to visit and write my 2-Year Anniversary  post on it? That would be so awesome =D

Sorry, I digress, back to present time. I arrived at Guu Sakabar around 5:50pm on Wednesday, and my first thought when I saw the empty waiting area was "YAY NO LINE UP!". I guess even if there was a line up, it wouldn't be as bad as at Guu Izakaya where you gotta line up outside O_o

Oh yeah, quite a few people asked me if I was going to go to Guu Sakabar on its opening night, which was on Sunday, March 6th. My response to everyone was "HELL NO!" - I mean even though I am a self-confessed foodie but still, I was in no hurry to try this place to be honest, especially because I can always go straight after work on a week night and beat the lineup!

I was sitting at the end of the bar waiting for my friend to come. Here's my view of Guu Sakabar.

Guu Sakabar is a lot roomier than Guu Izakaya for sure; it has about 6-7 communual tables, lined up one behind the other. There seems to be a lot more room between the bar and the tables compared to Guu Izakaya, which is essential for the numerous servers there bustling back and forth. Similar to Guu Izakaya, even though there are no windows, the whole restaurant is brightly lit with many Edison light bulbs hanging from the ceiling.

The open kitchen in front of me.

Forgetting to hang my coat up when I came in, I made my way back towards near the entrance (where the coat hanger was) and took a picture of the zashiki room, which is located immediately to the right once you walk into the restaurant.  The room is a couple of steps raised and guests are required to remove their shoes. For those of you who are worried about sitting on the floor cross-legged the whole time, do not worry - the tables are lowered into the floor and you will be sitting, with room for your legs to dangle. FYI the tatami mats are imported from Japan.

Back to the bar. 

By the way, I noticed that after 15-20 minutes or so, which would be around 6:10 - 6:20PM, the place suddenly begin to fill up really really quickly...people started pouring in; I don't know what happened but it seemed like everyone was coming in all at once. I was pretty sure that all the tables were filled by 6:30PM.

Guu Sakabar's menu. I would say the percentage of new items on this menu is around 25-30% where the rest can be found at Guu Izakaya as well.

Today's Specials. 

When my friend arrived, we decided to move to a communal table as we feel that the bar was a bit too cramped (I had my big purse, my SLR, my phone, and my friend had her bag, her phone, and so on and so forth). We were lucky that there was still space available at the communal tables. I realized later that it was definitely a good call as the extra space was better for taking pictures as well.

Cherry Blossom - Red wine, peach liqueur, cassis liqueur, 7up ($6)

This was very refreshing as it was a carbonated drink. However, there was just way too much ice in it so it got watered down really quickly. 

My friend opted for a glass of Sapporo but later on regretted not getting the "Big Mug" instead.

While waiting for food, I looked up and saw a long mural hanging above the bar. It was filled with cute drawings and Japanese. You want me to eat you? Sureeeeeeeeeee~

After maybe 10 minutes, our first dish came.

Hotate Butter - Baked scallop, mushroom w/ garlic butter ($7.20).

This was my least favourite dish of the night. I mean, it was still good but I didn't think it was all that great. It was served in a scallop shell and you can definitely taste the garlic butter - the scallops and mushrooms were basically swimming in it. That I actually don't mind. What I didn't like was that some of the scallops were over-cooked; their edges a bit hard and dry. Oh and according to, there was supposed to be panko crumbs dusted on top? Well we definitely did not see, nor taste, any panko bread crumbs here. My friend and I both prefer the Hotate Carbaccio I ordered at Guu Izakaya.

Carbonara Udon - Creamy udon w/ bacon, onion, half boiled egg ($8.30).

One of my two favourites that night~ We were informed by our server that we need to break the egg and mix everything together. Carbonara, I've had before, but for sure not udon-style! The sauce is very creamy and has the perfect thickness to it (not artery-clogging thick). There was no "star" ingredient here; every element contributed equally to this fantastic dish; from the seaweed and onion, to the bacon, egg, and udon, A must-try. 

5 Kinds Assorted Kushi Age (Japanese Style Deep Fried Kebab) - Ham, bacon, quail egg, lotus root, onion ($7.80) (you can order the kebabs separately too).

My favourites were the quail eggs and lotus root. The quail eggs were, well...just imagine small eggs, deep fried =) Nothing wrong with that! I like it because it is unique and tastes good.

I also loved the lotus root as it was the one thing there that didn't have a soft a mushy texture - the lotus root kept its shape as well as its texture. The onion would be my third favourite.

You are probably wondering why, with my love of meat (and yes I do love meat), the bacon and ham wasn't among my favourites? Well, if I had the choose, I would choose the bacon over the ham, but still, they were not my favourites with the reason being that deep frying a block of meat, resulting in basically a deep-fried meat popsicle, just didn't taste as good as deep-fried veggies. This is also why I prefer the bacon over the ham as they were bacon strips and not a block of meat. The fat from the bacon also made the kebab more juicy (unlike the boring ham). However, I'm sure a lot of guys would enjoy the deep-fried ham popsicle. Props to Guu Sakabar nonetheless as these kebabs were not oily at all.

Karaage - Deep fried chicken w/ garlic mayo ($5.20).

I've had this before at my second visit at Guu Izakaya. The chicken pieces (5) at Guu Izakaya were plated on an actual plate instead of on this bamboo thing. The karaage at Guu Sakabar this time was not as good as the time I've had it at Guu Izakaya; although the chicken was still tender and the batter was great, it was noticeably less juicy than the one I've had at Guu Izakaya.

Hitokuchi - Mouthful scallop sashimi with sea urchin cream sauce (3pc / $5.80) - from Today's Special menu.

"FUNKY" is how we would described this dish =) I didn't love it, nor hate it, but I'm glad we tried it. It was definitely very interesting, both taste and presentation wise. I love scallop and like sea urchin (not crazy about it). I think if you love sea urchin you would enjoy this more than me. I guess what throws people off, or at least me, was that the sea urchin is in sauce form. The slimy texture of the scallop sashimi with the creaminess in the sea urchin sauce is a very unique combo to say the least.

Filet of Fish - Filet of black cod rice burger with pink tartar & Tonkatsu sauce ($5.80) - from Today's Special menu.

This is for sure not your McDonald's Filet-O-Fish, nor my DIY McDonald's Quadruple FIlet-O-Fish, it is a more gourmet, refined version of it, no doubt. I mean, black cod and pink tartar sauce? Fancy! INSTANT LIKAGE for me as black cod is my favourite fish and pink is my favourite colour hahaha ^_* It is impossible to split this burger neatly (believe me, we tried) because the rice cracker is not the thin and crispy kind so you can't cut it through with a knife and fork, or rip it apart with your hands. So if you want to share this, prepare to just eat half then  give the rest to your friend or whoever (or the other way around? nahhhhhh). This is a must-try though, so I suggest you just order one for yourself =D

FYI there is also a burger on the regular menu which has ginger pork, cabbage, with garlic mayo.

After 6 dishes, we were ready for dessert. We were both pleasantly full by then.

Sake Tiramisu - Guuu'd sake tiramisu ($5).

Another must-try, especially if you love sake (I DO!). The sake is very prominent in this tiramisu; there is definitely more than just a "hint of sake" in this. The whole time my mind was switching back and forth between "wow, the sake is strong" -> "but this is a dessert" --> "there is a hint of sweetness to it" --> "wow I can really taste the sake" --> "is this a dessert???"

Goma Zukushi - Sesame ice cream w/ seasame rice cake, sesame cracker ($5).

This is the probably the tiniest scoop of ice cream I've ever seen served at a restaurant. But to be fair, this dessert is not an "ice cream dessert" but more of a "sesame dessert". So if you are looking for a big scoop of sesame ice cream, you will be disappointed. The sesame ice cream is very soft but not creamy enough for me (I still prefer the one at Yuzu more). This dessert is actually perfect for two people to share as there is two of everything (well except the one scoop of ice cream, there are 2 crackers, 2 sesame balls, and 2 sesame mochi balls). 

I really enjoyed the sesame mochi ball ^_^

Our bill - 2 drinks, 6 dishes, and 2 desserts. 

Both my friend and I were very happy and satisfied with our meal at Guu Sakabar~ Next time I would want to sit in the zashiki room (if possible) as it is way quieter in there and better for chatting.

By the way, I am not crazy. I did not sleep late last night, nor did I come into work late today, and I actually wrote my exam 3 days ago. APRIL FOOLS EVERYBODY!!! ^_*

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