Guu Sakabar TorontoPosted By Alex Chinien Feb 07 2012 · 0 comments · Dining Out
Guu Sakabar is exactly what it should be. It’s loud, it’s busy, it’s crazy and it’s delicious. We showed up on a Saturday evening and waited about an hour and 15 mins for a table. This seems par for the course at any of the trendier restaurants in Toronto. The Sakabar is located on Bloor street close to Bathurst while the original Izakaya is located on Church street.
I know some other food people who have had bad experience here. I guess this means Guu is a love it or hate it restaurant – because we loved it. Basically it comes down to whether or not you’re in the mood for a loud, fast paced and most likely drunken experience. We were in just that mood on Saturday night.
We started (naturally) with a pitcher of Sapporo and a Saffron Infused Cocktail. They also offer Kirin and Asahi in bottles. The sapporo disappeared quite quickly and the cocktail was light and refreshing. It should be noted – EVERYONE is drinking. Think of it as a pub. There is even an item on the menu that consists of a pyramid of shots and a birthday song – yes the whole restaurant will sing happy birthday to you if you order this, regardless of whether it is your birthday or not.
Much of the menu can be ordered in a tapas style – we ordered the following small dishes to share.
Salmon Natto Yukke with 7 friends (natto, takuan, shibazuke, wonton chips, garlic chips, scallion and raw egg yolk)
Tontoro Grilled Pork Cheek with salt and yuzu pepper
Maguro tataki (Seared B.C. Tuna with ponzu and garlic chips)
BBQ Pork Belly with honey soy sauce
Gyu tongue grilled with salt
Deep Fried Knee Cartilage
Horumon Pan Fried Pork Intestine with sweet garlic soy sauce
Visually the stand out dish was the Salmon Natto Yukke, which was delightful to mix around with a chopstick and share with seaweed wrap. Our second seafood dish was the seared tuna which was a decent thick slice with a clean flavor. Finally the squid dish was quite spicy and was covered in a surprising red sauce.
This was the first time eating intestine for many of us at the table and although no one seemed to love it – we certainly finished it. Personally I found it had an earthy umami flavor that I don’t respond well to (I’m not into mushrooms).
One of my particular favorites was the Tontoro grilled pork cheek which was cut thick with a fantastic grilled layer of fat. It was chewy and a little crispy with simple salty and savory flavors. The pork belly was heavily sauced and very sweet, making us thirsty enough to order another pitcher of Sapporo. The tongue was not as salty as I expected and was served diced in a black sauce. I have only had tongue a few times before and I really liked the texture produced by grilling it. The deep fried cartilage was an interesting final dish, it was crispy and oddly soft on the inside. Even after all this food – perhaps because our drinks were taking effect – we decided to go for an array of desserts.
Black Sesame ice cream
The pudding was a standard and well executed vanilla creme brule – an odd offering alongside the rest of the dishes. I really love black sesame ice cream and the Goma Zukushi dish was even better still served with a rice cake and cracker. The roasted green tea cheesecake was thicker than the light fluffy ones I’m used to eating at sushi restaurants and was a great ending to the feast.
Again, throughout the meal the restaurant was extremely loud, people were shouting and bumping into each other and laughing – and that’s the point. I loved the vibe of this restaurant right down to the bathrooms with Toto brand toilets and cheesy Japanese pop music. I absolutely recommend this place for an evening out with a group looking to feed off the party atmosphere. There is also VERY sexy looking tatami room for private parties that I was very jealous of.
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