Gyu-Kaku | Gold Coast/Mag Mile/Streeterville | Japanese | Restaurant
Chicago location of the Japanese barbecue chain, featuring grill-it-yourself marinated meats, vegetables, and seafood.

Our Review

The Chicago entry of the Japanese chain Gyu-Kaku ("bull's horn") is the 13th U.S. incursion of the franchise, with pairs in Hawaii and New York but most in southern California. As you're led in among the semi-isolated tables inset with roaring gas-powered grills, line cooks in the rear open kitchen bellow the traditional welcome, "Irasshaimase!" Servers issue precise instructions for grill placement and cooking times (fillet cooks for a mere 15 seconds a side; intestine needs to be charred for a good minute and a half). But first you'll be asked to choose some apps, among them small plates of simple cucumber, daikon, or cabbage kimchi priced at an astonishing $4 apiece. Apart from those and a hilariously unworkable deck of dried seaweed squares meant to be schmeared with cream cheese like the saddest bagel in the world, more reasonably valued starters include a handful of salads and soups and some slabs of soy-and-ginger-sauced fresh salmon sashimi, parcooked with a drizzle of scalding hot oil. The main event is supplied by an extensive beefcentric selection, very fresh, and certainly more varied and specialized than that at a typical Korean joint, ranging from higher-end Kobe options and chateaubriand to gnarlier, cheaper cuts such as brisket and ribs. Wild cards like lamb chops, pork jowl, duck, shrimp, scallops, tuna, Kurobuta weenies, and a few odd bits (tongue seems be a popular order) provide balance. Each and every one is bafflingly customizable with one of five different marinades, which might explain why orders take so remarkably long to arrive from a kitchen that doesn't have to cook them. Rice and noodle dishes are meant to be eaten at the end of the meal; these include an opaque but inadequately porky shio ramen, garlicky "Okinawan" noodles that seemed house-made (I was told they weren't), and spicy-good "sukiyaki" bi bim bop mixed tableside by servers, who spread it around inside the searing hot bowl to impart a crispy texture to the mix. Read the full review >>

Mike Sula

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Price: $$$
Payment Type: MasterCard, Visa, AmEx, Discover


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