Guu with Garlic

Japanese in Downtown & West End

One of Vancouver's best izakaya (Japanese pubs), this welcoming, wood-lined joint is a cultural immersion. Rice and noodle bowls are available but it's best to experiment with some Japanese bar tapas, including okonomiyaki and deep-fried takoyaki (octopus balls). Reservations are only accepted for groups of three or more, so it's best to arrive early for a seat.

Drinks-wise, go for the house beer Guuu'd Ale: a sparkling and surprisingly good pale ale made by a local craft brewer. Finish the night with a shot of shochu, a traditional distilled spirit, and you'll be looking for the nearest karaoke bar as soon as you hit the street.