By SAN AGARWAL
Located on Newport Avenue in Tustin, Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ has drawn large crowds for its savory meat, which customers can cook themselves on personal grills installed at each table. Though the meals are expensive and the waiting period can sometimes reach four hours during peak business hours, the food is worth the hassle. With its high-end food and sophisticated ambience, the restaurant easily surpasses Korean barbecue restaurants.
Customers pay per individual plate, usually $8, as opposed to paying one amount for unlimited plates as Korean barbecue restaurants offer. This was my first time trying Japanese barbecue, and although my wallet took a hit, I was pleased. The meat was delicious and tender; Gyu-Kaku offers a wide variety of meat dishes from filet mignon to cow tongues. Based on my past experiences, at Korean barbecue restaurants the meat usually comes in long strands and is difficult to cut and cook. In contrast, at Gyu-Kaku, the meat is nicely pre-cut and customers can easily cook the food within minutes.
When I went to Gyu-Kaku, I ordered the $55 “Meat Lover’s Course” from the Happy Hour menu. The “Meat Lover’s Course” contains three appetizers, including garlic fried chicken and cheese wontons, six main dishes, including N.Y. Steak Miso and Filet Mignon Ponzu and a dessert, S’mores. Though the menu says that the course feeds two people, the satisfying food is filling and can easily feed three.
Rodrigo San Roman (Jr.) said, “I usually eat KBBQ 3 times a month, and this was my first time at Japanese BBQ. This restaurant makes all the Korean BBQ places I eat at look horrible. It’s like comparing a sit-in restaurant to McDonald’s. The only downside was the price; but the food was definitely worth it.”
Gyu-Kaku’s service is one of the best I have seen; my waiter patiently taught me how to cook the meat and showed me which sauces complement specific types of meat. The experience of cooking and tasting Gyu-Kaku’s delicious Japanese barbecue is worth the long wait and high price.
14181 Newport Avenue, Tustin
11:30 AM – 10:30 PM Monday-Saturday
11:30 AM – 9:30 PM Sunday