Do you know what the litmus test for a great Asian restaurant is? Take a look around and see if Asians are actually eating there. At any given time Gyu-Kaku in Miami is packed with Asians and has even obtained quite a bit of popularity with Miami locals. This restaurant opened in Brickell this past January and is already packed, without even advertising. Gyu-Kaku is Japanese BBQ heaven!
Japanese BBQ or Yakiniku is when there is a grill in the middle of the table that the patrons employ to cook the meat, seafood and veggies they order. It is quite fun, unique, interactive and can be very entertaining. A friend invited us there for their phenomenal lunch special and we fell in love with their Toro Beef. The lunch special includes an awesome salad, miso soup, rice and two meats for $10 or three meats for $13. The meat choices are Toro Beef, Tongue, Hanger Steak, Pork Belly, Chicken Tenders, Japanese Pork Sausage or Filet Mignon. Definitely order the Toro because it is AmazeBalls. The meat arrives raw yet marinated and you are responsible for cooking it on the table-grill. We enjoyed lunch so much that we came back for a Chef tasting dinner to try everything. Since the menu is ridiculously extensive, we could not try it all (at least not in one sitting) but were immensely impressed with the items we sampled. We will highlight our favorites below.
There was a tie for best appetizer(s) of the night. We had the Spicy Tuna Tacos ($6) which had a great fried crisp and minor kick from what we believe was wasabi. The fresh silky tuna with the smooth avocado and crispy fried taco melded together sensually in our mouths inducing capital sized MMMMMMM‘s from all around the table.
The Pork Belly Chips ($6) also floated our Japanese boats and was served with a sensational sweet and spicy sauce that you will want to douse on everything. If you want to get kinky with it just be careful around the eyes, though. It was crunchy, yet still juicy and meaty. The sauce complimented it perfectly. Surprisingly, it was not greasy at all, likening it to a greaseless chicharron.
Virtually everyone (with the exception of religious Jews, Muslims and vegetarians) looooves Bacon. Gyu-Kaku has a treat for those unfortunate religious souls and bacon lovers. (Sorry, vegetarians you are missing out.) It is called Toro Beef ($6) or what we call celestial Beef Bacon and, oh, it is truly glorious. These fatty Miso Sauce (red miso soy, bean paste and sugar) soaked, thin heavenly strips will have your taste buds humming in bliss. They are very chewy, but it is like delicious, juicy, miso meat gum that you will not not want to stop chewing on. When you come to Gyu-Kaku, make sure your order the Toro Beef and ask them to lather it with extra Miso Sauce.
Right up there next to the Toro in meat paradise is the Yaki-Shabu ($6) or cow rib prosciutto (Chuck Roll) that is also soaked in delirious Miso sauciness. It was another thin incredible meat that was bursting with such a truly satisfying flavor and had a much less fatty texture than than the Toro. It is another must order at Gyu-Kaku.
For the next round we were treated to four beautiful Miso Scallops ($8) that were splendid juicy bites.
The four piece Shrimp Garlic ($8) had a very well balanced garlic sauce that consisted of fresh garlic paste, white soy sauce and sesame oil. You can pound a dozen of these medium sized crustaceans and your date would still have no qualms about frenching you at the table, though the people dining next to you might.
The Asian happy ending to this delightful orgy of meats were four Lamb Chops ($14) in a proprietary basil sauce that were nicely sized, fairly juicy and bone suckingly good. We actually did a “lamb chop cheers” at the table because cheers should not only be reserved for alcoholic libations.
Even though we were stuffed, there is almost always room for dessert. The creative people at Gyu-Kaku brought out personal S’mores ($3) so we could roast our marshmallows to our own desired specifications. While toaster oven s’mores are nice, they pale in comparison to the real thing. Unfortunately, usually the real thing requires camping in a mosquito-laden, hot-as-balls site in Miami. This afforded us a nice alternative to campfire s’mores and were actually among the best we ever had.
Gyu-Kaku was truly a fun, appetizing dinner. The staff was superb, attentive and insightful and the recommendations they made were pleasurable. They are constantly swapping the grills out so you do not get the previous cooking flavors on your next batch of goodies. Patrons will get a kick out cooking their own food to their desired bloody or well done preferences. The place is also a tremendous value play. We were a group of four that drank beer, sake, alcoholic drinks and ordered way too much food to the tune of only $170! While some of the Kobe cuts are pricey, everything else on the menu is of great value. It also affords groups the opportunity to share and order a plethora of different options. We enjoyed this scrumptious dinner so much, that we have already been back to share this experience with new friends.