There’s good ol’ BBQ, there’s Korean BBQ, then there’s Japanese BBQ. I’m not sure if this is really how BBQ is thrown down in Japan but Gyu Kaku is definitely a good place to try if you’re feeling for something different for dinner.
Before San Mateo, the closest Gyu Kaku was in Cupertino – pretty far and never really wanted to make the trip out that way to try it.
Now the first thing I did when I arrived, sadly, was to ask for 3 new clipper tongs and a new sauce dish because they were dirty. I really think it was more to do with the dishwasher not being able to get into the grove of the tongs. The guy brought us back 4 and 2 of them were still dirty. I would double check the tongs just to make sure. Keep in mind however, the meat is probably burning and getting stuck to the tongs – I wouldn’t throw a fit about it. Some were just dirty on the outside so I just left it.
To be honest, there is a lot on the menu and I was too lazy and too hungry to read the whole menu! We just ordered the meat lovers course for four. I believe it came with 3-4 appetizers – edamame, assorted salad, fried chicken (below), and rice and soup. The meal also came with 7 dishes of meat. Check out their course menu here.
The popcorn chicken or fried chicken was pretty damn good! It was a bit dry but the sauce really pulled the taste together. Crunchy and the sauce wasn’t too gooey. The sauce has a spicy zest to it which was my favorite part.
And the raw meat! Bistro hanger steak miso, New York steak miso, angus beef ribs tare, yaki-shabu miso, toro beef tare, shrimp garlic, chicken basil.
The meat was soooo good and fresh! They gave us two spicy pork because they ran out of basil chicken. I can’t eat spicy but I ate the spicy pork because I didn’t know – and it wasn’t spicy! Folks, I survived!
The only thing I did not enjoy was the steak. While I love steak, every time I’ve been to KBBQ and this time around too, steak is always SUPER tough to eat!! Is it just me?! I would chew the same cube over and over again and nothing!
And dessert also comes with the course! I don’t have much to say except for there’s always room for dessert!
Now for everything else. The place is pretty big and very spacious, enjoy environment but it can get loud.
Service: I could tell they were short staffed, things definitely took awhile to come together. Getting our order, bringing us our food. He forgot our rice and charged us for it and didn’t tell us they were out of chicken basil. We had asked another waiter to bring the chicken basil and kindly informed us. Despite the slow service, the staff wasn’t just okay, they were friendly and engaging. I enjoyed having them as our servers and host.
Parking: Well, San Mateo (to me) is well known for all their convenient parking lots. Parking was breeze! But on very busy nights parking lots can get full and circling around might be required :p
Wait: There wasn’t a lot of people but the wait was still about 45 minutes. We arrived at 8 and didn’t get seated until around 9 on a Sunday. We tried to make reservations but it was too late so we decided to just show up. You can make reservations on Yelp or OpenTable or on their website. I still can’t believe you can make reservations on Yelp! How convenient right?!
This place was great to try, I had been wanting to try it, didn’t want to drive down to Cupertino, and now they are here in the Bay Area. However, maybe I am cheapskate, but I wouldn’t eat here on the regular, or even once a month. They don’t have an all you can like Korean BBQ, so you’d have a course meal or a la carte. For us, it was about 25-30$ per person. They do have a happy hour, but I know I’ll never make it to happy hour unless I get lucky with timing. This is one of those places I’d go celebrate birthdays or with a large group of friends to socialize and eat. This place would be perfect for that! And I think most places similar is more ideal for dates, birthdays, and having a good time at dinner. Thanks Gyu Kaku for a wonderful experience!
Gyu Kaku Japanese BBQ
329 S. Ellsworth Ave.
San Mateo, CA 94401
They do have locations across California and outside of California.