When I go out to eat I usually ask my friends what they feel like trying and if there are any specific restaurants they want to try. One friend of mine said she wanted to go somewhere “fun”. The first place that came into my head was Gyu-Kaku. If you are a hot pot or Korean BBQ, then you will need to go here. It is a grill it yourself kind of place. So if you suck at cooking especially BBQ kind of food, please go with someone who knows what to do. You don’t want to get sick from raw meat. The employees at Gyu-Kaku do help you out and give you advice on how to cook your food so don’t feel intimidated if you are completely new at this. There are quite a few things I like about Gyu-Kaku (not just the food). It can be booked conveniently on Open Table, there is a special app that allows you to gain points (for free food and discounts) and happy hour! There are two locations: one downtown and one on Broadway. I prefer the one at Broadway because it is quieter and not as busy. The downtown one seems packed and noisy all the time.
The first time you go you might be overwhelmed by the choices. It is probably best to go with one of the set courses. This gives you a little taste of everything. I don’t know if I have a preference with the meats. They are all really tasty. For many of the set courses you start off with some appies which include something like salad, gyoza or chicken karaage. They are all tasty but the BBQ meats are the best. The appetizers are all fully cooked and ready to eat. These are great because it takes a while for your meats to cook and it gives you something to snack on while you are grilling.
I don’t know about you but I get a little paranoid. I don’t like using the same tongs for my cooked meat and raw meats. So I usually designate on tong for raw and one for cooked. The grills get oiled before you use them and if you ever need to change them you can always ask the waiter and they will come with a new grill. Place the meats on the grill and grill each side for about 2-5 minutes. This will depend on your taste, how cooked you like the meats and the types of meat. The beef you can leave a little pink in the middle but the chicken you want to cook it through. If you are not sure just place the thickest piece of meat on a plate and cut it in half to see the insides. You can also leave the meats on the grill to char and get crispy. This gives the meat a smokey BBQ flavor.
To accompany the meats, there are three different sauces: sweet soy, spicy, and ponzu. I like the spicy and ponzu the best but honestly you don’t need the sauces. The meat is so flavorful already. You can order plain rice as well if you want something to go with the meat.
Veggie options are limited so eat up that salad. There is a buttered corn option and a mushroom medley option. Both of these come wrapped in aluminum foil. Place the package directly on the grill and cook on either side for a few minutes. The corn is quicker to cook. The mushrooms however take a little longer, so open the package up to check how cooked it is. Watch out for the steam that comes out from the package!
Not all the mains are raw. There are a few options that come cooked. My two favorites are the Sukiyaki Bibimbap and the garlic noodles. The Bibimbap is amazing! I have not tried everything because I usually can’t fit anymore in my belly once I eat all the meat, rice and noodles but I am sure the other stuff is great as well.
Finally onto the dessert round. I find that there are a variety of desserts that you can order. Most of the sets come with ice cream but there are other options too. The Taiyaki is a great little dessert if you want to keep grilling. It is a fish shaped pancake with a red bean filling. Grill on each side until golden brown. Ours got a little too cooked. They serve this with ice cream. If you want to make your own I have a recipe so please check out the blog post.
Another great option is the Gyu-Kaku ice cream. Its just plain vanilla ice cream served with maple syrup and soybean powder. It is pretty Canadian with that maple syrup.
Overall, Gyu-Kaku is a great place if you want a different dining experience. It is not for those that are eating at a restaurant because you don’t want to cook. It great for those that want a high protein diet but not great for those that want veggies. Also don’t take your vegetarian friends because there isn’t many options for them. This is one of my go to places for dinner.
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