We had a BBQ session at my brother’s place, and Dad loved it so much, I thought it might be nice to take my folks out for BBQ of another sort at Gyu-Kaku in bustling Holland Village.
The first thing I noticed was how clean the restaurant was, in every sense of the word, because there was nary a trace of smoke nor a hint of smell that I’ve come to associate with BBQ places. Service was friendly, efficient, and gorgeous. Why the third adjective, you ask, oh because dear sir/madam, there lies a striking Korean beauty who works at Gyu-Kaku. I was pretty taken, and heck, I’m a girl who loves a man (man in question is my husband…). Oh a meal of visual and culinary appreciation….I think half the battle is won.
Ok back to the food, before you question my tendencies…
I decided to go all out that evening, perhaps egged on by exceptional beauty and my equally exceptional hunger, and we ordered the Sakura Set which cost us S$298 for 4 people. This was the most wagyu-heavy set on the menu.
First we were served some assorted kim-chee, which was tasty, much like similar offerings from other BBQ places. I do have a question, why does a Japanese BBQ restaurant serve kim-chee as a starter? Oh wells, not that I’m complaining, I’m a big fan of kim-chee.
We had a choice of one of the salads, and the Horenso Salad came highly recommended. It was a raw Japanese-style spinach salad, topped with bacon bits and a creamy, nutty sesame dressing. Delish and refreshing, although I would prefer the raw spinach to be replaced by veggies that are very slightly more wilted and softer in texture. Still, the sesame dressing and bacon toppings were a brilliant combination, I would make this at home.
We were then served four pieces of Aburi Bacon, which is smoked bacon cut into thick wedges that has been coated skin-side with a black pepper crust. This was supposed to be grilled, and then dipped in mustard. I’m not a fan of black pepper-flavoured anything, so this didn’t sit well with me. Besides, I like my bacon thinly sliced, to allow the marbled texture to cut through the saltiness.
Then came an assortment of meat, there was Wagyu Karubi, the Wagyu Rump Cap, Pork Collar and Chicken Teriyaki. As my mum doesn’t like to eat beef and duck, we decided to replace the Duck Breast (that was supposed to come with the Sakura Set) with Chicken Teriyaki. I can’t tell the Karubi from the Rump Cap, but wagyu anything on the platter was good. I thought it was better to grill the beef slices to medium-rare or medium, that retained the tenderness and juicy flavours of the well-marbled beef. I loved the Pork Collar and Chicken Teriyaki too. In fact, all the meats were very well-marinated with good quality ingredients, wolfing them down didn’t make me want to irrigate myself with gallons of water, unlike what Seoul Garden does to the palette. All cuts of meat served were very soft and tender.
Next, we tried the Wagyu Fillet Steak, it was very tender too, despite the lack of marbling as compared to the Karubi and Rump Cap, which was surprising, because I had expected tough chunks of meat to get off the grill based on the absence of fat. I do prefer the more-marbled alternatives on our first platter though, me and my love of thin slices of fatty meat tend to rule my appetite.
The Sakura Set also came with miso-marinated cod that was pre-wrapped in foil and this was also cooked on the grill. The heat pocket formed by the foil steamed the cod perfectly into delightfully tender, flavoursome morsels. Don’t worry too much about the cooking times as the wait staff would let you know and help you with unwrapping the parcel, the same goes for the assorted mushrooms.
The hardcore part of the meal was finished off with a bowl of Ishiyaki Mentaiko, which was much like bibimbab, with bits of cooked salmon and helpings of mentaiko added to flavour the rice. I thought it was pretty nice, although being a meat fiend, I would have loved a sprinkling of shredded beef on it instead.
Then came one of my favourite parts of any meal, dessert! We opted for a mix of black sesame and green tea ice cream, and both were creamy, but I recall that one flavour was a little too sweet for my liking, can’t remember which! Still, I can’t complain, there’s nothing like scoops of velvety black sesame and green tea ice cream to finish off a meal of delectable grilled meats.
We left the restaurant with happy and round bellies, albeit a lot poorer, but we’re talking about wagyu beef and a whole of food here. Most importantly, we didn’t smell like BBQ-on-legs having emerged from the restaurant, thanks to the super ventilation and filters at Gyu-Kaku. Methinks that all BBQ restaurants should take a leaf out of Gyu-Kaku’s book – food smells good when it’s on food, not on humans, hair and everything in between.
I would return for more BBQ at Gyu-Kaku the next time I’m back in town, perhaps going for the ala carte menu since we are more educated on our preferences now. And oh, I hope the pretty lady still works there!
Gyu-Kaku is located at:
29 Lorong Mambong Singapore 277687