Thursday, July 2, 2015

Canada Day at Kitanoya Guu Garden

Click to add a blog post for Guu Garden on Zomato It can be a frustrating experience to go to a restaurant that's basically slammed and find they are short-staffed. Like the last time I went to Jamjar. Can it be that management genuinely did not expect it to be so busy?

Just home from Guu Garden this evening. Got there shortly after 7.30 pm and there was a slowly increasing lineup. Even after 9pm, new patrons were trickling in.
The staff were non-stop scurrying around. Our poor sweetheart server Seiko (?) was nevertheless unfailingly polite and patient. Not once did she look impatient or fail to give us service with a smile. I felt bad that all I could offer her was a few kind words slipped in whenever she came by, and a decent tip at the end.
There's a note on the faux wood menus that reads, "It is not rude to yell out 'sumimasen!' [excuse me] calling your server at Izakaya", but we didn't try it.

Also, despite the restaurant being so busy, none of our dishes looked like rush jobs or that any corners had been cut. This is the sort of service I really like about the better Japanese restaurants -- it's perfect or they don't give it to you.

So, kudos to the servers and boo to management that let them get yelled at by impatient patrons. To give management the benefit of the doubt, I am going to assume that they just couldn't hire enough people for Canada Day.
With so many patrons, service was understandably slow. We eventually flagged down a server to take our order, which trickled in tapas style. Fortunately most of us were in a here-have-a-bite-of-this sharing mood. The "fine print" on the menu (at least the online one) does say, "Food will be served when cooked, in traditional izakaya style".

Anyway, the restaurant has a lovely "rooftop" feel. We were seated outside, which turned out fine as the day was cooling already.

TIP: You can order bowls of rice ($1.50?).
So, while the portions can vary from smallish to moderate, you can "supersize" it into a filling meal by simply ordering a bowl of rice.
That said, a lot of the menu is under $10 and you could put together an okay meal with a couple of orders.

Bang Bang G ($6.80) chicken breast, onion, cucumber, and jellyfish salad with sesame dressing
  • With a name like that, of course I ordered it. I was told that it was a Korean dish. That was the explanation that came back when I asked the male server who brought the cash machine around to us.
  • Medium-light sized salad, which is good for the price, especially considering the mix of ingredients. Portion for price is good.
  • This was actually fresh and quite tasty. I think the jelly fish could have been even better if colder, like when served as a cold appetizer in a Chinese restaurant.
Lemon-marinated tuna with Honey Dew ($10.50)
  • Decent portion for price. Everything on the plate looked fresh.
  • This was one of the daily specials, so you might not see it again. Interesting for also using slices of honeydew for the contrast of sour lemon dressing with sweet melon, and to also give it a refreshing taste.
Gin Kama ($7 small, $12 large) grilled ginger-soy marinated black cod cheek
  • Slightly fishy tasting. Otherwise, fantastic.
  • Sweet sauce seared right on.
  • Fish cheek -- the most tender meat.
Gyu Karubi ($9 small, $16 large) grilled beef short ribs with house garlic sweet soy sauce, green onion, and garlic chips on top
  • If you consider only the grilling of the short ribs, I think Kibo Sushi gives you a slightly superior taste through their grilling. But they difference isn't enough to top the superior overall value for your money you get here at Guu Garden.
  • Is this tasty? Yes it is. A very safe choice if you don't know what to order.
Ton Toro ($8 small, $14 large) sea salt grilled pork cheek with yuzu ponzu
  • If you don't already know, each slice is mostly fat with a token amount of meat.
  • Fairly tasty all on its own. Probably even better with the sauce which I forgot to try when my friend let me sample her dish.
Fresh Orange Juice ($3)
  • Had a lot of pulp in it -- definitely came from a real orange crushed on site. Did not look like Tropicana.
  • Glass seemed to have a lot of ice in it, but at $3, it is already cheaper than just about every restaurant that is giving you what is probably Tropicana or Oasis.

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