If you're familiar with Korean BBQ, you'll be at home with Gyu-Kaku, which is a chain of Asian BBQ joints that have opened up across the nation and even in Canada. Branded as Japanese Yakiniku BBQ, think of it as DIY cooking of marinated meats and veggies, all from the comfort of your table.
It's a sleek and modern space, with plenty of seating and even a bar up front. You can order a la carte, or even opt for the set courses. I'd recommend going a la carte as the savings encountered by ordering the set courses are minimal at best. And who knows, you might encounter poor service resulting in missed courses, as we did.
Whenever you do Korean BBQ, you're hoping for a good venting system. Gyu-Kaku Philly has a decent one, but fair warning. Your clothes will still smell like BBQ so check your coat if that's an issue!
Kobe "style" rib-eye, hanger steak, filet mignon, flap steak, assorted vegetables
First things first. As I alluded to above, we were never served the salmon or edamame. Even when we brought this up to our 2nd server (more to come on that), all we received was a reluctant "I don't know what you were served." Seems to be consistent with the issues noted with service on Yelp. Coupled with the minimal savings by going the set course route, it definitely wasn't worth it for us. Regardless, let's get on with the food!
We started off with miso soup. This iteration was fairly standard, but I appreciated that it wasn't overly salty and had plenty of tofu as well.
The salad was a mix of sliced cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, spring mix, and hard boiled eggs.
Garlic Fried Rice Bibimbap
The standout in terms of taste and presentation was the garlic bibimbap. Mixed tableside, the crisp rice at the bottom known as nurunji (socarrat for the Spanish and tahdig for Persians) was definitely present and offered wonderful textures. The bits of egg and garlic-sesame oil seasoning helped to create a delicious, and substantial bite.
Gyu-Kaku starts the grilling off with assorted vegetables as the cooking time takes longer. This includes some zucchini, red peppers, mushrooms, onion, and corn.
Kobe 'Style' Flap Steak
The flap steak was marinated in a sweet and savory sauce and studded with sesame seeds. Cooked for just about a minute, it was tender, but still had toothsome bite.
Even though this isn't real deal Japanese kobe beef, you can't deny the marbling on the beef. The hangar steak was definitely one of our favorites.
Kobe 'Style' Filet Mignon
The filet was expectedly tender and juicy.
Kobe 'Style' Ribeye
The ribeye was a cut bit thin for my liking. It wasn't marinated, perhaps to showcase the cut.
Obviously, I had to try their pork belly as well and it's a must order in my mind.
On the grill, it cooks crisply, yet still has an unctuous richness to it.
The meal ended with s'mores. While I appreciated that they continued to make use of the grill, the Hershey's chocolate, marshmallows, and Graham crackers seemed pretty low budget for a restaurant that was charging over $100 for a set course. It also doesn't seem to go quite well with the theme of Japanese / Korean BBQ.
We also encountered issues with service. Our original server was friendly enough, but she left during the middle of our meal without any word to us. We waited a good 30 minutes until we eventually flagged a random server down. Eventually our second server, Jason, took over without an explanation. He was nice enough, but as I mentioned earlier, when questioned about the missing courses, he simply noted that he didn't know what we had earlier. Hopefully service has improved since we last went.
Overall, if you haven't had the chance to enjoy Asian BBQ, Gyu-Kaku is a decent bet. They also allow you the option of enjoying some higher quality meats than you'd find at your standard Korean BBQ joint.