Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Gyu Kaku, Pasadena CA

So the thought of cooking your own food instead of chefs in the kitchen sounds a little ridiculous...for some people the reason why they actually go out to eat is so they don't have to flex a single muscle except of that putting the forks or spoons full of yummy goodness inside their mouths...if you just want to relax and do nothing while waiting for your food then this is not the place for you...better yet, bring a grillmaster (as we did)...kudos to our friend Juan for sharing with me the pleasure of cooking for the rest of the table...yes i was the only ms. in the group so for some reason it was my "assignment" to cook and serve the men...hmm.
Gyu Kaku is "yakiniku" dining or Japanese bbq, almost like yakitori, although not the traditional grilled chicken in bamboo skewers, nevertheless a must try grilling event, almost the same as Korean bbq dining. Juan has been trying to get us to go for a while now...Happy Hour 9pm to close, $1 draft beers, half off appetizers, $2.95 select grill items and $5 sakes...yes, the dollar beer should have been enough to convince us to go but last night was our night.
I haven't had a decent meal since lunch the previous day so i was wasn't packed and the wait was not that long, it did help that they brought our pitcher of Sapporo at the waiting lounge...$5.41 for the pitcher, can't get any better start to the night than that.
We got our own booth, got seated, and readied ourselves for some much awaited feasting. The appetizers were half off. The Hawaiian Ahi Poke salad was spicy yet not overwhelmingly so. The calamari was salty and tender enough to be addicting. The edamame was, well, edamame. Their appetizer portions are good for tiny little kids, so more than one serving is recommended for a group. We got two more pitchers of beer, ordered our meats and shrimp and relaxed for a few more minutes before the assault began. We really didn't care for chicken but made up for it in bulk orders of Kalbi Chuck, Bistro Harami, and Garlic Shrimp (if you think you can eat, order more servings at a time because happy hour is only from 9pm til 11pm, last call for food is 10:30).
The Kalbi Chuck was meat as it should probably taste like, nothing really special...thinly sliced, so for the hungry it was the easiest and fastest to cook. The Bistro Harami was unexpected. It was aged angus bistro steak and (when i actually cook it right as medium rare) melts in your mouth, almost with a sweet finish. All meats are marinated in their special sesame soy sauce, almost like the traditional "tare" (mirin, sake, soy sauce and sugar) sauce of yakitori. And the sauce just enhances the bistro and did not in anyway mask its goodness. Either that or i was just super hungry...hmmm. The garlic shrimp needed a little bit of help. We "soaked" it in some of their spicy sauce (each table comes with a spicy as well as soy sauce) and freshly squeezed lemon and after a few minutes it was almost as delicious to convert me into my baby's pesco-veg lifestyle. Yes, the fresh off the grill shrimp with garlicky, lemony taste was good enough to repeat the night even without the Kalbi.
More than the beer, more than the meat, and more than the shrimp, the highlight of the night was really the s'mores. Simple, yes, but after a few (or a ton) of savory bites it was most definitely an awesome finish. Where else can you actually grill your meat, drink your sake bombs and dollar beers, devour addicting calamari and end the night by making your own s'mores...come on, my stove top can probably do the job but doing it by myself out of craving is not the same as doing it buzzed (or drunk for some) with friends around you.
Gyu Kaku was a much welcomed experience when shared with some good grillers and good company. The seats could have had more room but rubbing knees with friends is probably forgivable given the cheap bill, good food, and funny topics of conversation. I would definitely go back, impress my honey with some grilling skills, wow my family with finally learning to be slightly domesticated in knowing when the meat is ready to be served, and getting my much needed "stress" buzz after work with friends. I'm going again on Friday...your first beer's on me.


  1. Thank you for visiting my blog, I look forward to yours. The pictures look yummy.


  2. It was definitely yummy...100% more than it looks ;) we went tuesday and came back blog is korean tofu soup...thanks for visiting...

  3. looks yummy! thanks for your visit to my blog!