I had the pleasure to dine in at the Toronto location of Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ last Friday with my boo. According to Wikipedia, Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ (牛角 gyū kaku, “bull’s horn”) is a chain of Japanese yakiniku restaurants specializing in Japanese barbecue.
They have over 600 locations all over the world and yet this was my first time encountering the restaurant chain. (I actually passed by the one in Flushing, New York when we were there in April too.) Other than having Japanese BBQ in Japan, I have actually never had Japanese BBQ in Toronto before. I was really excited to try it out! 😀
Thanks to an acquaintance friend who knows I blog about restaurants, she reached out to me and asked if I was interested in going to Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ to try them out and blog about them — her friend was the manager of Gyu-Kaku Toronto. We set up a date and I was able to dine in with a guest. 😀
I arrived after 5:30 p.m. on a Friday evening and Ken was already there. Upon walking in, the hostess already knew my name and she led us to our table. I liked that we had a table near the kitchen near the corner so that we could see the entire restaurant, the staff going in and out of the kitchen with food, and it was a semi-private spot for us to dine too. The interior of Gyu-Kaku used Japanese elements with wooden dividers separating each table. I really liked the place! I did find that it was a little hot in there and for most of our meal — especially because we were eating food over a hot grill — I was sweating through my back. It was part of the experience for sure though!
I was informed to ask for Jason when I got there but he wasn’t actually there that day. Instead, another female staff greeted us after we were seated and our server arrived shortly afterwards too. We were welcome to order anything from the menu to try out the food. 🙂 The female staff recommended the “Premium Meat Lover’s for 2” BBQ course which included starters, BBQ items, and dessert. It was the best deal for two people so we chose that and also ordered some a la carte items.
The “Premium Meat Lover’s for 2” BBQ course included: Starters — Gyu-Kaku Salad, Chicken Karaage, 2 Miso Soup, Beef Sukiyaki Bibimbap; BBQ items — Harami Miso Skirt Steak, Kalbi Short Rib, Filet Mignon, Toro Beef, New York Steak, Chicken, Corn, Broccoli; and Dessert — Maple Syrup Gyu-Kaku Ice Cream. It had a value of $91.50 but their regular price was $75. I thought this was an amazing deal for the quality and quantity of food for two people!
The a la carte items that we ordered included appetizers of Edamame, Kim-Chee, Spicy Tuna Volcano, Yuzu Shishito Pepper, and an order of Scallops from the seafood portion (also for grilling).
But first, we each got a pint of Sapporo Draft to start off the night. They currently have a promotion for a pitcher of Sapporo too. Visit their restaurant for more details. 😛
Our server started off our grill and our items gradually started filling the table. It was so exciting!! 😀
There were so many items on our table — how do I even go about blogging about this? Haha… So I’ll start off with the Miso Soup. This was really good! It was a big deep bowl of miso soup with small cubed tofu; the soup wasn’t too salty or thin — it was good miso soup!
The Chicken Karaage came with spicy mayo and a slice of lemon. It was good chicken karaage too; it was slightly salty and seasoned well. The shapes of the chicken karaage pieces were interesting though lol.
The Edamame was good. The Kim-Chee was also really good. Apparently, Gyu-Kaku manufactures and purveys its own brand of kimchi in Japanese supermarkets. The kimchi wasn’t too spicy either.
The Gyu-Kaku Salad had a mixture of cabbage, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, sliced egg, and peppers. It was a very refreshing salad and the dressing was very good too.
We started grilling the meats by this point. (By the way, I LOVED their barbecue tongs! How is it that something so simple as metal tongs could give me so much satisfaction and contentment? Haha. It was just a really simple to use tongs that grabbed the meat easily and in big chunks too. Why are the other metal tongs that are more common so much more difficult to use?)
Anyway, the meats came in two rounds. First, we had the Toro Beef, Kalbi Short Rib, Filet Mignon, and Scallops. The Corn and Broccoli were wrapped up in tin foil and recommended to be placed on the grill for 15 minutes an each side.
I was so impressed with the meats!! The Kalbi Short Rib was really tender and marinated so well that the flavours shone brightly. The Filet Mignon was incredibly tender. The Toro Beef was more firm but still you could taste the quality beef in each bite like the other two meats. I was so impressed! 😀
The Scallops were very squishy and chewy and fresh.
When the Corn and Broccoli were done, these were delicious too. The Corn was buttered — mmm, so good. The Broccoli had sopped up a bit of the barbecue meats flavours and were cooked really well.
We took our time enjoying the food and eating and meanwhile, the servers came by constantly to change the grills for us. The process of changing the grills was so much more simpler than the Korean barbecue kinds — at least to me, it looked very simple and was faster. It helped a lot to have a clean grill to cook our meats so that we wouldn’t have any extra char on our food from the previous grilling. 😀 I really liked their attentiveness and service.
After our first round of meat, we tried the other items on our table too. The Beef Sukiyaki Bibimbap was brought to our table with ingredients fully intact in the hot stone bowl. I took a photo of this before the server mixed up the bowl of beef and rice for us. This was also a really good dish! 😀 So tasty and the beef was thoroughly marinated in the sukiyaki sauce. Some people might found the flavour a little overpowering.
I’m so glad I ordered the Spicy Tuna Volcano to try. This was spicy tuna on top of a inari sushi (sushi rice wrapped inside a seasoned deep-fried tofu). By this point, I was getting full but this was definitely a must-try item on the menu because it was so good.
I’m also glad we ordered the Yuzu Shishito Pepper to try. These peppers were grilled so perfectly and looked spicy. However, they weren’t spicy at all and a great complement to the meats.
Our second round of meats arrived. This included the Harami Miso Skirt Steak, New York Steak, and Chicken.
The Harami Miso Skirt Steak was the #1 bestseller on their list and I absolutely agreed with this wholeheartedly! Even though I didn’t get to try all the meats on their menu, this was definitely the best one we tried that night. The Harami Miso Skirt Steak was so, so juicy and tender and fantastic! It was entirely due to the quality of the cut of meat. I highly recommend this one! The New York Steak was still good but when compared to the Harami, it just couldn’t compare. The Chicken was marinated with yuzu, basil, and spicy miso. This was also good chicken that was tender after being grilled. The main stars of that night though were the different cuts of beef. ^_^
It would be a shock if we finished all our food so we actually packed up the rest of our Beef Sukiyaki Bibimbap and some grilled meats to take home with us. It was a wonderful night of dining and if I could have tried more items on their menu, I would have! I was just so full already.
We finished off with a sweet note. We had the Maple Syrup Gyu-Kaku Ice Cream. This was vanilla ice cream dusted with soybean powder with maple syrup. It was a really sweet scoop of cold ice cream that sealed off the night of meaty goodness. It was a really good finish to the meal!
I was very impressed with Gyu-Kaku and understand why they have expanded to so many locations all around the world. They have 600 locations globally! I thought that their prices were very reasonable too — especially the BBQ course for two. Spending about $100 for good quality Japanese meat is so worth it. I’d much rather come here for good quality BBQ than to an all-you-can-eat BBQ restaurant. They also have Happy Hour where the deals are even sweeter. I recommend you to try Gyu-Kaku if you haven’t tried it before. Make sure to make a reservation! When we left at 8:15 p.m.-ish, there were so many people waiting for a table.
Thank you again so much Hanna for connecting me with Gyu-Kaku for the tasting and to the staff at Gyu-Kaku for the delicious and very satisfying meal and your warm hospitality! 🙂
FTC Disclaimer: Although Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ reached out and invited me to a complimentary tasting to review their restaurant, the opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of the restaurant.