The Guu empire continues to expand with its sixth Vancouver release in the form of Kobachi, a self-proclaimed daily menu izakaya on Denman. Guu Kobachi finds itself in the same neighbourhood as Kintaro Ramen and Nook, servicing Vancouver West End’s seemingly unending appetite for izakayas of all sorts.
Inside, the narrow dining space only has room for less than a dozen tables with a large communal table guarding the front of the restaurant and bar seating along one side.
The menu at Kobachi should be no surprise for those familiar with Guu’s sister restaurants: a focus on intensely flavoured, freshly prepared, small plates that pair exceedingly well with your favourite beverage.
A noticeable difference is Kobachi’s inclination to veer slightly towards more contemporary executions of these dishes, if only with just twist.
Consider the Tuna sashimi: cubed and tossed with similarly shaped chunks of avocado in a light garlic soy sauce. Or the tender, marinated chicken gizzards topped with peanuts and drizzled with chili oil that initially fools you into thinking it is mild, and then kicks you in the back of the throat with a slight punch.
Some dishes stay closer to their traditional roots. The Chicken Yakitori, is a beautifully grilled skewer of fatty meat served with sour plum sauce. The only disappointment is the lack of charcoal essence. While the grilled mackerel was predictably meaty with its characteristically oily aftertaste and a hint of charring.
Other dishes ventures into the more adventurous realm like the midnight-hued, deep fried squid ink marinated calamari. The beautifully tender and crunchy calamari complimented beautifully with the onyx coloured, but deliciously sweet, squid ink mayonnaise.
The Thai Style Loco Moco is a curious melange of Thai, Japanese and Hawaiian sensibilities: seasoned minced beef over rice, salad and topped with a soft poached egg and crushed crispy wonton wrappers.
Pan fried pork intestines are a Chinese dim sum staple, but finds itself perfectly at home at Kobachi with the tangy ginger garlic sauce balancing the pork’s crispy fat.
Finally, we ended our meal with the whimsically named CCB: a decadent deep fried spring roll delicately stuffed with bananas and side of coconut sauce for dipping.
The service was friendly and relatively attentive — as we’ve come to expect from Guu — amidst the din of organized chaos. Our meal, including 7 dishes and a tall-boy of Guu’s own ale came to a reasonable $64 including taxes and tips. Does Kobachi break new ground? Probably not. But the consistently careful attention to their small plates make Kobachi a great option for any izakaya craving.
Perfect for: When all the other Guu locations are busy.