Vancouver is home to a lot of restaurants and bars, but there are tons of hidden gems that the majority of Vancouverites aren't unearthing. To help guide us to these potential discoveries, we've enlisted some of our city's food players to share their recommendations for a feature dubbed Dining Confidential. Know a chef who wants to share some top dining spots? The tipline is open.
Atticus Garant joined the Fairmont Pacific Rim four years ago as First Cook, rising through the ranks to his current position of Executive Sous Chef. Atticus shared with us his love of Vancouver's izakaya scene.
Where do you like to go to eat?
Well, being a chef, when I get off work what I want is good quality food and a nice beverage. I grew up in the Fraser Valley but I've been in Vancouver for the last decade and my passion always been the best of the inexpensive and wonderful products that you can get in Vancouver. There is so much of it; you could just go and eat noodles, sushi, izakaya and great Korean food every day of the week and not blow your budget.
Do you have a favourite place?
My personal favourite is Guu Garden on Nelson between Howe and Hornby; it's the one Guu that no one really knows about, everyone knows about Guu Garlic, but this one is like a secret. You have to work a bit just to find it - as you walk up into the plaza, you'll see a sports bar called Relish and there's actually another restaurant called Gyu there! You have to walk to the small set of stairs, which is actually outside to the far left and you'll see a little tiny sign that says Guu Garden and it's on the third floor.
Why is it special?
The ambiance; you walk up these old stairs to the third floor and they have this massive patio that's got a huge tree, as soon as you get there you don't even feel like you're downtown anymore. It's secluded and relaxed... and then you walk in and they're screaming and yelling greetings at you! There are a couple of traditional-style tables where you sit on the floor, there's a slider to divide the room into a private space and lots of different places to sit; it's got a great buzz and in the summer you can sit outside, the patio is open till 11pm but the restaurant goes till quite early in the morning.
What do you like to eat there?
I love the izakaya classics; they do the best chicken karaage in town, they make a grilled pork cheek with a yuzo kosho which is splendid. But what's fun and exciting is their daily fresh sheet; I was there last week and there was a table-side tofu which you got to make.There was a little tiny burner and a pot of white liquid- which would be the soy milk - and they light the flame, put the lid on and told us not to touch it for 10-15 minutes. Then they bought us a tray of bonito flakes and dark soy, green onions and so on to mix in. The soy milk has a coagulant so you just bring the milk up to a certain temperature and it softly solidifies. The surprise of this dish was so much fun and it was just $5.50.
Any menu must-haves?
I'd just say eat the whole menu. Oh, and they do a mega Sapporo, it's so big and so much fun, you get it in like a stein-type mug and everyone's cheers-ing and drinking plum wine. It's great!
· Guu Garden [Official Site]
· Fairmont Pacific Rim [Official Site
· All Previous Fairmont Pacific Rim Coverage [EVAN]
· All Previous Dining Confidentials [EVAN]