I’ve blogged about Japanese teppanyaki before so it’s time to write about another type of Japanese cuisine – yakiniku. Japanese yakiniku is a meal that consists of grilled meat. Gyu-Kaku, located in the East Village, specializes in yakiniku. Visitors cook their own meats with a charcoal burner that is built into the tables. The menu offers a variety of foods to choose from – beef, pork, chicken, seafood and an assortment of vegetables.
Gyu-Kaku has a happy hour menu everyday from 3pm-6pm. This menu offers a variety of appetizers, meats and drinks at 50% off the original price. We arrived at 5:30pm just to catch a hold of this deal. Since we had a large party, we were given a reservation for 5:30 but we were told we would need to vacate the table by 7:15pm. But by the time 7:15pm arrived, they were very courteous and didn’t rush us to leave. We ended up finishing around 7:30pm.
We started off with a couple of appetizers. First was the seaweed salad. This appetizer came in a large plate, but the serving size was rather small. However, at the price of $3, I suppose I can’t complain. The seaweed was fresh and had just the right amount of sesame oil mixed throughout the salad.
Next came the fried shrimp dumplings. Each order of dumplings came with seven pieces, which is a bit of an odd number. The dumplings were drizzled with a salsa-like sauce, which made it spicy and tangy. The skin of the dumplings was lightly fried so there was a crunch but it wasn’t too deeply fried. We ordered a couple of orders of dumplings so I had two of these.
We also ordered a couple of orders of kalbi soup. This tasted more like a stew, or more specifically, it tasted like Korean chigae. The soup base was a bit spicy and was interspersed with egg, kalbi meat and other veggies. This was quite delicious and wasn’t heavy at all.
Next up in the appetizers selection was the Sukiyaki Beef Bibimbap. Happy Hour price placed each of these large bowls of mixed rice at only $5 each. We ordered around 4 bowls to be shared between a table of thirteen so we all each got a small bowl of rice. I requested that mine be less spicy and it was perfect. There was just a small hint of spice but not too much. There were chunks of beef and veggies throughout my rice and I had to stop myself from finishing the whole bowl!
After appetizers we were brought our meat! We started off with their Bistro Hanger Steak off their Happy Hour menu. At the Happy Hour price, it only cost $4 per order. We got about ten orders of these for the entire table to share. We put the meat onto the already fired grill and started barbequing! When we finished grilling, the meat was tender and juicy. I was done chewing each piece within seconds!
We also ordered some beef ribs to grill. After grilling these, they almost fell off the bone. They were so tender! We also ordered a ton of other meats – beef tongue, pork slices and pig neck. I was too busy eating to take pictures so you’re going to have to pay them a visit and try for yourselves!
We also ordered Kurobuta sausages, which were off the Happy Hour menu. These were so delicious that we knew we had to have it. These sausages grill super quick and were very juicy. Even though they came at the end of the meal and we were pretty full, I still had room for one of these sausages.
After everything was cleared and the table cleaned, we were offered the dessert menu. Despite being very full, the Green Tea Mille Crepe cake looked super good. I have always wanted to try a crepe cake because they’re supposed to be very delicious. The boyfriend’s friend and I shared a slice and I was blown away! The crepe cake, which came with around 20 layers of thin crepes (I lost count of how many layers there were), was soft and light. The matcha crème in between the crepe layers were full of green tea flavor. Paired with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, this was the perfect finish to a delicious meal.
Gyu-Kaku is pretty expensive when you’re not going during Happy Hour but they do have set menus that are pretty affordable. It’s pretty fun to be able to cook your own meats. If you’ve never tried yakiniku, I suggest a visit to Gyu-Kaku. The service is quick and friendly. My water glass was always filled up when it reached half-full and I was super full after my meal. We actually had left overs!