After the Gluten Free Expo, I headed home for a quick rest & dog walk before hurrying out the door and catching the Canada Line straight down to Waterfront again. I met up with the boy for dinner at Guu Otokomae, Kitanoya Guu’s Gastown location.
From the Guu Otokomae website:
Guu with Otokomae in Gastown brings a contemporary twist to the Izakaya. “Otokomae” means “handsome man” or “true man” physically and mentally.
Each dish is carefully crafted to art-like perfection, making them both delicious & visually pleasing. Otokomae is perfect for groups, or for a sophisticated dinner for two at the counter.
This idea fits with the restaurant’s Gastown-typical atmosphere: dim lights, exposed brick, you know the deal. I was a little surprised to see that none of the waiters had beards and man buns. It has a neighbourhood assimilated aesthetic, rather than one seeking to appear visually loyal to the nature of authentic izakaya joints. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, of course. (I prefer the less hipsterish feeling izakayas, but that’s just a personal preference.)
Shortly after we sat down, we were given customary oshibori (wet towels) to clean our hands, and set about perusing the menu.
We went with the chicken karaage (no surprise there), guu yakiudon, squid from their rotating specials menu, and pork cheek garnished with radish.
Chicken karaage was good, as expected.
There are five Guus in Vancouver, and one in Richmond. Out of all the Guus in Canada, our Lower Mainland accounts for six out of eight total. I have to admit I’m a little (selfishly) proud that Kitanoya Marketing Corp., which brought the Guu franchise to Canada, chose Vancouver for their primary point of contact with Canadian diners, because the boy and I really love Guu. (I’m sure Vancouver & Richmond’s Asian population were probably the central reason for us having so many Guus, but anyway. Whatever gets them here). The last two locations in Canada are in, surprise surprise, Toronto. They have an izakaya joint and a sakabar.
The boy and I have decided to try out all the Guus in the West–and hopefully Canada, sometime in the future. With Otokomae under our belts, we’re now three for six. We’ve been to Guu Garden a few times, but that might just be for nostalgic reasons. Still, it’s probably my favourite of the bunch so far. I’ll probably blog about it one day, but until then… the next dish:
Guu yakiudon. Beef, green onions, and mushrooms topped with seaweed and bonito flakes.
The yakiudon had a bit of a smokey flavour to it, which might or might not be your kind of udon. We personally enjoyed it.
Loved the squid with Japanese mayo on the side. Like many meat and seafood dishes, it came with lemon to squeeze over it. Texture wasn’t overly rubbery, as squid can be. The seasoning on the outer skin added some crunchy goodness, but it wasn’t a particularly flavourful dish. It is squid, after all.
Lastly was the pork cheek, which the boy loves. I like it too…. I just don’t like eating fat whole. For those of you who’ve eaten pork cheek, you’re aware that most places that serve it ensure that 80% of the cheek is fat. Bleh. Again, the boy enjoyed it; I don’t like eating chunks of fat.
Overall, though, we liked Otokomae. It’s a Guu, so unless we received uncustomarily awful service, you probably won’t hear any complaints from us. This time, same as every time we visit a Guu, the service was perfectly fine.
It’s super close to Waterfront station, so it’s convenient as well.
Gastown isn’t my favourite Guu location. I like the feel of Guu Garden (so cute!) and Guu Original better. Izakaya will always feel synonymous with casual noshing. But in a pinch, Otokomae will definitely do.
All the best,