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Gyu-Kaku Vegetarian

Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ Photos


  Gyu-Kaku, 7862 Warner Ave., #109, Huntington Beach, CA. Tel: (714)



Gyu-Kaku continued pg. 2 / pg.1


A woman sitting next to us who we could almost see through the wood blind partition that separated our tables, overheard our conversation and confessed that she'd tried ahi on the grill, too. (see top photo above)

"Do you know how to cook these?" Emilyn now asked her charges as she delivered several plates filled the finest beef slices and vegetables such as mushrooms, corn, onions and squash. "No, but what if we burn our food?" my friend replied. Emilyn clearly had to earn her keep this night.


"If you burn the food, I am personally responsible and haven't done my job," she responded sweetly. With morsels of raw vegetables, meats and fish fit for Japan's Prime Minister Koizumi, she taught us how easy yakiniku, or Japanese style cooking over Binchotan oak charcoals can be. If you've never heard of Binchotan, it promotes the build up of amino acids and adds flavor to the meat while protecting your food from protein breakdown. It took over three weeks of training for our food server to learn such things, but in few minutes she taught us how to master the imported Japanese barbeque brazier at our table. The fun had just begun.


With vegetables placed near the outer rim as our guide suggested, we felt like we were standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon. It holds great promise and is worth exploring, even though its unknown depths can seem daunting. Placing beef near the center, we each held our own set of tongs to turn it over once as instructed (turning it more than once makes the meet tough, we were told). I watched the people in the booth across from ours work efficiently as a team, each taking a turn to reach into the grill and pull out what they needed with tongs or chopsticks. Unlike them, my friend began rotating the food and placing servings on my plate as she divvied out portions. When she served me too much, including a piece that wasn't cooked, it was time to take charge.


Metal tongs in hand, I placed the uncooked morsel back into the grill, amazed to notice men (and women) throughout the restaurant who seemed happy cooking their own food and serving themselves. This can't-fail experience that puts each person in charge, is the perfect introduction to cooking for those who swear they "don't know how." And for those want to knock themselves out by cooking everyone else's meal, it's a chance to learn that you can have more fun when you let go once in a while.  At Gyu-Kaku, not only are you responsible for your personal feast, you gain a huge sense of accomplishment when you realize how easy it is to succeed. Who would imagine you can learn so many lessons about life over a dinner!


Seamless service as grill experts and charcoal attendants constantly pass by your table adjusting the fire, changing the grill top, and making sure that your foods are not overcooked, assure that you are the star. With minimal effort, you're on your way to savoring one of the most mouth-watering meals guaranteed to satisfy your hunger. Should you get carried away in conversation over a glass of sake served in a small box filled with more sake to drink, the grill may begin to flame and in a snap, you'll find someone rushing to assist you. As you pull the foods from the heat and slowly place them in your mouth, get ready for bursts of flavor you wish you could experience over and over again. Thin slivers of the finest beef cooked quickly create a slightly crisp texture with the juices sealed into each bite. Although you may want to sample soy-based sauces in three teapots at your table, the meats and vegetables are the finest quality and can easily stand alone. Several of the dishes on the Samurai menu come in a marinade that cooks directly into the food, in fact.

"Three minutes is all you need to leave the foil-wrapped salmon on the grill," Emilyn told us as we gobbled down bite after bite of steaks, seafood and fresh vegetables. Vegetarians will be glad to know that there's tofu, rice and a long list of vegetables for delicious, satisfying meals. One of our favorites was the sweetest pieces of corn on the cob, sliced into quarters. Yummy!  Vegetarian options


Back at the grill we pulled the three-minute fish off the flame, only briefly. Neither of us wore a watch, and we decided the salmon tasted a little too soft and fishy.  Emilyn dropped by to make sure we hadn't forgotten. That's how attentive the service is at this incredible place. Just as we began to sink our teeth into the smooth, mellow "Salmon Butter" (buttered salmon) that was still steaming, four "butterflied" shrimp nested in a garlic marinade arrived at the table.  "Cook them till they turn orange," she instructed. We were slowing down but continued on this incredible journey of food discovery. Following her directions to the tee, I made room for delicious, juicy shrimp that my mouth still waters from today as I recall the the taste.


At every table a menu remains throughout the meal for guests to peer through while eating, so I found ours and checked to see how much more food the Samurai was going to deliver. With only dessert remaining, we leaned back and relaxed, astounded that we had eaten so many amazing dishes in one evening. Here's the list:

  SAMURAI  (For 2)
2 Miso Soup
Gyu-Kaku Salad
Ahi Poke
U.S. Kobe Kalbi w/Ponzu
Premium Kalbi Tare
Harami Miso
Shrimp Garlic
Salmon Butter
Assorted Vegetables
Original Bibimba


After all the gourmet foods, it seemed funny to stare down at a plate of graham crackers, marshmallows and pieces of chocolate for "Old School" S'mores. Like kids around a campfire, two friends roasted marshmallows and began scheming their next dinner adventure.  Gyu-Kaku would go down as one of the best experiences we shared and we knew we'd have to return. We talked about ordering the signature Dorayaki, Yakimochi or Banana Chocolate Ice Cream. But we just didn't have room, so we are saving one of those incredible desserts for our next visit.  A cup of hot tea was the perfect end to this memorable evening. (Sake, beers, Shochu, wine or a variety of beverages are all available)


On the way out the door, I noticed a playful couple having fun. You could tell by the way they were eating and smiling that they were having a good time so I asked Brent and Ai Peters where they are from. Ai comes from Matsuyama, Japan, but now lives with her husband, Brent, in Orange County.  She knows all about Gyu-Kaku restaurants, having eaten often at one near her former Japan residence. Delighted to share an experience with her husband that reminded her of home, the two have dined at many Asian style restaurants throughout Southern California and especially like the atmosphere at Huntington Beach's newest offering.


I met and thanked the general manager, Ryuma Nishimitsu, for such great a great time. He has worked in the Beverly Hills location and helps launch new Gyu-Kaku restaurants. He seems like a humble guy who works side by side with his staff, pitching in to help with a variety of tasks at the new Huntington Beach restaurant opened in November 2006. Striving to maintain teamwork so important to the operations of this new business that's already drawing large crowds, Nishimitsu offered insights into the customers and Guy-Kaku fans. 


"Our close-knit family offers a 'home away from home' for Japanese living in the U.S.", he said. "It's also a welcoming place for celebrities who want to relax and have fun without being hassled, and an enjoyable experience for those sharing a meal in celebration of special events or every day life." Nishimitsu spoke with the same twinkle in his eye we'd seen all evening with our food server, Emilyn. "Beyond offering value, our goal is to touch customers emotionally. If we can offer you a dining experience rather than just eating, we've succeeded in conveying what Gyu-Kaku is about." 

It worked for me, and I will definitely be back.


Gyu-Kaku is owned by REINS International, Inc.  AM-PM markets and CostIs stores are also owned by REINS. The popular Gyu-Kaku restaurant came to the U.S. approximately five years ago when it opened its first restaurant in Beverly Hills. Other locations include Hawaii, New York, Singapore and Taiwan. Literally translated as "bull's horn", Gyu-Kaku restaurant chain chose the name to symbolize an antennae aligned to the needs of customers.

Gyu-Kaku, 7862 Warner Ave., #109, Huntington Beach, CA. Tel: (714) 842-8333.