GUU IZAKAYA (now known as Kinka Izakaya)

After years of hearing about this restaurant, I’ve finally had the opportunity to see what it was all about. Originating from Vancouver, Guu Izakaya first opened its doors in Toronto in 2009 and have since opened a second location in 2011 under the name Guu Sakabar. It is a Japanese tapa style restaurant meaning that the food is served in a variety of small plates whether they are snacks, finger foods, appetizers, or just a small portion of a special dish. It is a great way to be able to try an abundant of different foods at once as usually many tapa-style dishes are ordered and shared amongst everyone at your table. 

It’s wise to make a reservation before hand as Guu Izakaya is always packed especially on weekends. Unfortunately for me it was a spur of the moment decision one night and a reservation was not made so I had to wait for around 35 minutes for my table. The first thing you will notice if you are waiting to be seated is that there is no waiting area indoors. You are forced to stand outside in the pitched up tent (pictured above on the left) where you are greeted by the wonders of what mother nature has to offer you on that day. This is probably a non issue during the warmer months but something to be aware of for anyone coming here during the colder seasons.

As soon as your table is ready and the host walks you through the door, you are immediately greeted by loud cheers from the staff and even some of the patrons who are joining in on the fun to welcome you. You will quickly notice that this is not your everyday restaurant you go to. It is a party atmosphere from the moment you walk in to the moment you step out and everyone that comes is here for the good food and to have a good time.

After being seated the waitress asked our table if it was our first time here in which we responded that it was, so she quickly gave us recommendations on the most popular tapas served at Guu. We took her advice and ordered all 3 of the top dishes she pointed out with the first dish being Maguro Tataki. If you do not like the taste of raw fish than I would stay away from this, but if you are familiar with eating sashimi than this tapa is a must try. It was one of the best cuts of fish I have ever tasted and the B.C. tuna was incredibly fresh that it just melted in your mouth. The tuna is thinly sliced and seared briefly, marinated in ponzu vinegar, and seasoned with some garlic. I will definitely order this dish again the next time I come back.

Seared B.C. Tuna Sashimi with Ponzu & Garlic Chips - Cost $7.30

The second most popular dish that we ordered was Karrage. I can see why it’s so popular because it’s basically everyone’s favourite comfort food, fried chicken. It was a satisfying dish as the chicken was extremely crunchy and well seasoned. Their home made mayo sauce added a nice “zing” to your bite as you dunked it in the sauce. I will say though that this dish wasn’t special enough for me to want to re-order it again but I’m glad I did get to try it at least once.

Deep Fried Soy Sauce Marinated Chicken with Garlic Mayo - Cost $6.80

The third most popular dish as recommended by our waitress was the Kakimayo. It’s two gigantic oysters that is baked in the oven with cheese over top of it. I’m sure like many of you (including myself), topping an oyster with cheese seems really odd and I would have never put the two together but it was a home run. The layer of melted cheese at the top of the oyster tasted amazing and as you dug deeper to find the actual oyster underneath you were treated to something that truly tasted wonderful. I would categorize this as another re-order for sure.

Baked B.C. Oyster with Mushrooms, Spinach & Garlic Mayo topped with Cheese - Cost $7.50

We ran out of the top 3 tapas to order so we took a gamble and chose a dish ourselves. The last tapa we ordered was BBQ Pork and it was personally the worst dish that we ordered. I guess that is what happens when you play it safe. I was just very bored with the look and taste of the pork. Nothing interesting that really caught my attention whether it was the taste or the presentation and I was left with wanting more. This is a dish that could be easily replicated in many other restaurants so a definite pass on this from me.

B.B.Q Style Pork with Yuzu Honey Soy Sauce - Cost $6.50

Like in most Japanese restaurants, green tea is a common ingredient to their food so it was no surprise that two of the desserts they were serving had a common theme to it, green tea. The first dessert I tried was their signature Green Tea Cheese Cake. Cheese cake is already one my top favourite desserts of all time so I knew I had to try it. Mix in another favourite ingredient in it, green tea, and this cheese cake was just superbly sublime. The texture was very smooth and the green tea was not overpowering but you could certainly notice its presence in the cake. No complaints on this dessert at all.

Baked Matcha Green Tea Cheese Cake - Cost $5.50

After tasting one of the best cheese cakes I’ve ever had, I didn’t think anything could top it. But it did! Enter the Green Tea Brulee. This dessert is a must get for anyone that comes to Guu and from what I have heard Guu does not always have this on their menu, so if you see it, without a doubt get it! The green tea infused custard was extremely decadent and delicious and the scoop of Black Sesame ice cream on the side was just as good. This dish goes to my top 2 desserts I’ve had of all time. It is just that good!

Green Tea Creme Brulee with Mango Sauce and Black Sesame Ice Cream - Cost - $6.50

My expectations coming to this restaurant were high just because of all the buzz and hype I’ve heard about this place and I am happy to say that those expectations were definitely met and even exceeded in some areas. One thing I was worried about coming in to a tapa-style restaurant was the price and even more worried that I was not going to be full after paying that hefty price tag. At the end of the meal when the bill was split, I only paid a little over $25 and that is already covering taxes and tip. I left with a full stomach and the satisfaction that I ate some quality food.

As we left our tables and walked out the doors, we were greeted with some more cheers and applause from the staff. Their Japanese hospitality was very much appreciated as you are treated like rock stars from the moment you walk in to the moment you step out. Everyone who works there really seems to really love their job and are having the time of their lives with every new table they serve. Their energy is infectious and I cannot wait to go back.


389 Church Street, Toronto, ON, M5B 2A2

(416) 977 0999


Monday to Friday (11:30am to 2:00pm) - Lunch Hours

Monday to Friday (5:00pm to 11:30pm); Saturday to Sunday (4:30pm to 11:30pm) - Dinner Hours

The Everyday Foodie Report Card

Atmosphere: 10/10

Service: 10/10

Food: 8.5/10

Presentation: 8/10

Value: 8.5/10

Overall: 90% Everyday Foodie Satisfaction