Gyu-Kaku on Kapiolani Boulevard, Japanese BBQ Dining

One of my favorite places to eat yakiniku (grilled meat Japanese style) is Gyu-Kaku on Kapiolani Blvd. near Pensacola. It is Japanese BBQ Dining at its best.You cook your own food on the electric charcoal grill. And because the smoke is ventilated inwards you don’t leave smelling like grilled meat yourself.

I guess Gyu-Kaku is high on my list because my daughter works there.But even if she didn’t I would recommend this restaurant because it is a fun place to dine.And the servers are full of energy and are very attentive.As you enter, the staff shouts “Irasshaimase, konbanwa!”, Japanese for “Welcome and good evening!” They really shout this greeting.High energy, that’s for sure.The other thing I like is that when they take your order, they will kneel next to you to meet your eye level.I think that is very nice instead of having the servers look down at you.

Since I represent Honolulu Festival I try to find something in common with my subject and the Festival. We all know that the Honolulu Festival shares the cultures and traditions of the people and countries within the Pacific Rim with an emphasis on Japan and Hawaii.I think I have met the conditions once again. As I explained earlier, the service is a cross cultural blend of Japanese and Western style.The food that is on the menu is a cross cultural blend of Japanese and Korean foods, flavors and cooking techniques.

Gyu-Kaku is a chain of restaurants originally from Japan that has expanded to Hawaii (there’s two here, one on Kapiolani and the other in Waikiki),Southern California and New York.There are over 800 locations in Japan and it is very popular with the young adults because the food is reasonable and tasty.I noticed that there is usually a Gyu-Kaku near every major train or subway station in the Tokyo area.

Please check out their website at http://www.gyu-kaku.com/ to review their menus as well as specials that they offer each month.There are Happy Hour Specials at the Kapiolani restaurant that are of value.Sapporo or Kirin Light draft beer in a mug is $2 and by the pitcher $6.50 every day from 5:00-6:30 pm and 9:00 pm-closing.Also during Happy Hour there are 50% off BBQ specials that rotate each day including Kalbi (short rib beef), New York steak, Harami miso (skirt steak) and shrimp.

The dinner that I shared with my daughter the other evening started with the ‘ahi poke. This favorite Hawaiian pupu or appetizer is cubes of raw yellowfin tuna prepared with sauces, spices and bits of raw veggies normally onions. The Gyu-Kaku ‘ahi poke has kim chee sauce in it, a combination of Hawaiian and Korean flavors.Then we had Harami (skirt steak), garlic shrimp, chicken with yuzu sauce (citrus pepper paste), enoki mushroom wrapped in bacon and grilled zucchini.What’s really nice about Gyu-Kaku is that they have many vegetarian dishes and you can get full on the vegetables, noodles and rice dishes.Oh, can’t forget the delicious tofu chigae that we had.That is spicy tofu soup.This dish is a Korean dish but the Gyu-Kaku flavor is more of a blend of Japanese and Korean.We had the Sukiyaki Bibimba, again a rice dish combining the techniques of Japanese and Korean cooking.And we finished off our meal with Dorayaki with green tea ice cream and yakimochi.You even grill the dessert.We grilled the dorayaki (Japanese pancakes) and then ate it with the ice cream with maple syrup on it.We also grilled the yakimochi (rice cake) and ate it with the ice cream.

'Ahi Poke and Harami Skirt Steak

Garlic shrimp         Zucchini and chicken 

Enoki mushroom wrapped in bacon and Tofu chigae soup

Poke, harami, enoki bacon, garlic shrimp and dessert 

Gyu-Kaku’s menu is well thought out and shows a lot of creativity.I encourage everyone to try this style of Japanese dining.It’s a lot of fun grilling on your own and sharing the dishes of meat, seafood and vegetables in your choice of sauces.Good luck and bon appetit.

Honolulu Festival Foundation

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