The team behind Guu, the series of Toronto hotspots, will soon give Montrealers their famous Guu greeting. The newest addition to the Japanese family, which has a cultish popularity, will be called Kinka Izakaya and is set to open this fall at 1624 Ste-Catherine O. “The menu will be similar to that of Guu Izakaya and Guu SakaBar in Toronto,” says James Hyunsoo, CEO of Kinka Family Inc. and the man responsible for some of Toronto’s most irresistible dishes.
If you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t tasted the wonders that come out of the Guu kitchen, be prepared for traditional Japanese tapas-like dishes, each more unique and flavorful than the next. Some of the classic go-tos include Ikapiri (deep fried calamari with spicy ketchup and wasabi mayo) and Kakimayo (baked oysters with mushrooms, spinach and garlic mayo, topped with cheese). “When people see the presentation of the oysters, they want to order it right away,” says Ippei Iwata, currently the Manager at Guu SakaBar, who’s poised to be named executive chef and manager at the new Montreal location.
While the food is definitely the prime attraction, the Guu atmosphere is just as special. First, there’s the impeccable design; a sleek industrial feel infused with traditional Japanese finishes (think geometric pattern, long communal tables, exposed bulbs, and stunning inlayed wood walls). Then there’s the staff, who are over-the-top accommodating and consistently go out of their way to make you feel at home. “We try to make every experience special and surprising,” says James. “That’s what’s great about Izakaya.”
Authentic Japanese tradition pervades every element of Guu, including that boisterous welcome. “In Japan, it’s pretty common to give this type of greeting when a customer walks in,” James explains. “It lets them know that we’re happy and thankful for them to be there.” This modest, appreciative mentality is ingrained in the Kinka Family philosophy. “It’s all about teamwork,” says James, who prefers to stay out of the limelight and attributes his success to his staff. “I consider them my family,” he says, in his characteristic soft-spoken way. “I provide the stage, but they are the real stars of the show.”
With Kinka Izakaya shaping up to be the latest and greatest of the Kinka Family formula, we can surely anticipate those all too famous Guu lineups in Montreal’s foodie future.
#LYNL | (Live Your Notable Life)