Maybe Kramer was onto something after all.
When the iconic Seinfeld character proposed a pizza place where you make your own pie, he was ridiculed. Maybe he was just ahead of his time.
In the era of the foodie, there is an added appeal to restaurants, like Korean barbecue joints, that let diners cook their own food. That’s what Gyu-Kaku offers at its locations across the country, and now you can get it in Addison.
Sandwiched in a strip mall, Gyu-Kaku (pronounced GEW-KAH-KOO) has a menu saturated with raw meats, all of which you cook yourself on the small grill in the center of your table. It’s not difficult to become overwhelmed: the menu selection is large, and the photos of raw meat don’t necessarily help in making decisions.
The tablet-toting waiter can give a quick run-through; even just after opening, they have the spiel nailed down.
There are too many a la carte options to mention, from filet mignon to beef tongue and chicken to lamb. The easier way is probably going the route of the courses. They range from $55 to $78 for two, but you can put your confidence in the menu-creators for getting an assemblage of meats that are bookended by starters and dessert. There’s also a happy hour course for $48. A short list of sake options and some Japanese beer can complement your plates, or you could go for the iced green tea.
There are decent lunch specials, too, offering two items at 3.5 ounces each with a salad, miso soup and rice for just under $12.
The “Signature” set is four 2-ounce servings: harami miso skirt steak, garlic shoyu rib-eye, Yaki-Shabu beef and garlic shrimp, along with the salad, soup and rice. For just about $15, it’s a good amount of food. The salad and miso soup come out quickly, just before your waiter turns on the grill and oils the grate.
It makes sense that prep time for the kitchen wouldn’t take long here: the marinated, shaved meats are piled into a row and topped with small sprigs of curly parsley. When the plate comes out, your waiter will go through what you have and how long each should cook.
The restaurant’s website boasts, “Everyone instantly becomes an expert cook,” but “expert” might be a stretch.
The “social dining” label they’ve attached to it could be true. Or it could mean everyone at the table is just focused on what they’re doing.
The best part of this might just be the small selections of various meats. The rib-eye has a sweet marinade that is somewhat addictive, and while it was a favorite on the plate, it was nice to change things up with different options.
The big question: Is the main draw here the food or the cooking of food?
Perhaps it’s less about the cooking of the food than in Japanese Yakinuku’s experience of cooking over the grill together with the people around you — it’s the kind of dining experience that only gets better the more people join the table. Either way, the meats taste good. The balance of sweet and salty that typifies Japanese cooking is there, and that alone is worth the trip.
Gyu-Kaku, 5290 Belt Line Road, Addison
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.