Inside Izakayas

 

Photo: Guu Kobachi/ facebook

Photo: Guu Kobachi/ facebook

 

Vancouver is known for its Japanese-style tapas bars. If you are planning a date with a special someone, or want to splurge on a fancy night out with a big group of friends, these spots combine delicious shareable small plates with trendy urban ambiance.

 

Whether it’s the creative cocktails, cultural fusions or late night delicacies you’re after, Guu and Suika are sure to impress any visitor to the city. From the boisterous welcomes to the hand-painted daily seafood menus, Guidebook suggests newcomers try one of these stellar izakaya experiences.

Photo: Guu Kobachi/ facebook

Photo: Guu Kobachi/ facebook

Guu Kobachi

735 Denman Street
Vancouver, BC
604-683-0735

 

Guu is a Vancouver institution, with five locations in Metro Vancouver and two in Toronto. Each spot has its own spin, including Guu with Garlic (tagline: make garlic sexy), and Guu Garden, which specializes in oden.

 

Guu Kobachi on Denman Street in the West End of Vancouver is the latest to reopen its doors with a warm, wooden interior. The space is narrow, but the atmosphere is lively. Instead of a regular menu, Guu Kobachi offers daily fresh sheets of hot pot, oshinko, yakitori, sausage, ochazuke, potato salad or ramen noodle. Every day is different.

 

This reviewer made a last minute Valentine’s Day reservation at the bar. Each Guu location has its own unique reservation policy, so be sure to check the website www.guu-izakaya.com before dropping in for a bite.

 

Plates arrive one by one with exciting visual arrangements and unexpected twists for your tastebuds. For example, gomae arrived in three colourful piles—not just your typical spinach and sesame. You may never have imagined tasting carrot gomae, but the imaginative sauce will leave you wanting to eat it again soon.

 

Mixed drinks are also a forte at this location—the glasses are larger than expected, and pack a lot of punch.

 


 

Photo: Suika Snackbar/ facebook

Photo: Suika Snackbar/ facebook

Suika Snackbar

1626 West Broadway
Vancouver, BC
(604) 730-1678

 

Suika’s gritty, cavernous interior lends itself to big groups or talkative dates. Exposed brick, distressed iron and a massive chandelier made of sake bottles give the space an alternative vibe.

 

The assorted sampler arrives in an adorable jewelry box of agedashi tofu, seared tuna, lotus plant and whatever other appetizers the chef decides to throw in that day. The stone bowl bibimbap is also a highlight, with barbequed pork belly, beef or vegetable.

 

As with Guu, Suika likes to show off creative cocktails, including a not-too-sweet sake and lychee fruit sangria.

 

Reservations are not a necessity for this restaurant, though big groups should consider it, especially on a weekend.

 

Right up until the end of your meal, Suika toys with your meal expectations. Instead of an after-dinner mint, your bill will arrive with a couple frozen grapes.

Photo: Suika Snackbar/ facebook

Photo: Suika Snackbar/ facebook

Photo: Suika Snackbar/ facebook

Photo: Suika Snackbar/ facebook