Late night dinners in the West End are actually much more difficult than one might assume. Not only is Denman street riddled with falsely posted hours, Robson street has a serious drop in quality places to eat after midnight. After being turned away at the door at our favourite Japanese place on Denman, we decided to go to Guu. And I'm glad we did.
After several visits to Guu on Denman, I think I can say with relatively high confidence that its my new favourite Japanese restaurant. For those of you who are unfamiliar - assuming a Vancouverite who doesn't know of Guu even exists - Guu is a chain of Japanese tapas grills that are found all over downtown Vancouver. Each restaurant has its own menu, and I would suggest to check them all out.
The first thing we did was order a couple of drinks; Cassishu soda, and Blue Bell. The name of the Cassishu soda should give away that the primary flavour comes from Creme de Cassis; a black courant flavoured liqueur. It reminds me of a Kir Royal, but with a Japanese twist. Instead of champagne, they use sake and soda water. Which effectively mimics the Kir Royal - as I'm sure was the intention of the drink's crafter.
The Blue Bell on the other hand is a simple vodka based cocktail, flavoured with lychee juice and a hint of bitter orange in the form of Blue Bols. The overwhelming flavour in the drink comes from tonic. In my opinion the drink has far too much tonic covering up the other flavours and making it feel simply like a vodka tonic with a few drops of bitters.
We kept it relatively simple and ordered only a couple of things off of the tapas menu - octopus and eggplant - and that night's special; whelk.
I wasn't sure what whelk was so we asked. Our server explained that it was a type of clam. When it arrived we saw that it was actually snail - which is okay for me as I love escargot. Language barriers at ethnically foreign restaurants can be a problem at times, but in this case it worked out. The dish was so good we ordered two more. And the dish itself was relatively simple. Grilled 'whelk' on a bed of salt.
The tapas were just as good. We'd had the eggplant before as its a mainstay on all of the Guu menus. Sliced into long and thin pieces, and served in a specially crafted Japanese sauce, its one of those things we keep ordering every time. The octopus is served much how you'd expect. With finely minced green onion, and diced red onion.
We had one more drink before leaving. The peach oolong; which we sipped while finishing the second helping of whelk. The drink was made from shochu, peach extract and oolong tea. In other words, a great after dinner night cap. The drink is inexplicably Japanese. Whether you're a tea junkie, coinnoseur of foreign spirits, or just a lover of all things Far East, then you'll like it.
All in all, this recent visit to Guu on Denman was perfect. But then, it always is.
- lychee juice
- bols blue
- creme de cassis
- peach extract
- oolong tea