There’s a lot of new up and coming food options in the downtown core. If you take a look along Jasper Ave and 104 St, you’ll be right in the heart of some really great food options…one restaurant that may peak your attention is Gyu Kaku!
I was invited to check out Gyu Kaku recently so thought I’d make a quick post to share my experience. Gyu Kaku is known for their yakiniku (grilled barbecue) dining experience. Their menu offers a variety of protein/veggie options which you can cook over a flaming charcoal grill. They also have plenty of other Japanese favourites to choose from too – some rice/noodle options, a few sushi choices, and other small plates. While there’s lots to choose from, I do recommend checking out Gyu Kaku for their grill options as this is what they’ve branded themselves on.
Disclaimer: My meal at Gyu Kaku was complementary, however, all thoughts and opinions remain unbiased and are my own.
Gyu Kaku is actually quite a large franchise, with hundreds of locations all over the world! I’d normally not think much of franchise spots but Gyu Kaku has built a good reputation for themselves and this is Edmonton’s first location. In Alberta, they can also be found in Calgary.
While you can order by the dish, there are some great course menus too. If you’re with friends and want to order lot’s of different dishes or if you’re like me where you don’t want to spend a lot but also want to try a little bit of everything… the bbq courses are affordable and have lots to offer. My recommendation is to start with the course menu and then add on extra dishes if they are not already included.
On the day that we went, it was also Niku day. As a result, we went with the niku deal which is normally their happy hour deal. It was the perfect amount of food for both my boyfriend and I – nothing wasted – and we were more than satisfied with the dishes it came with. Included in this option were two miso soups to start, a seaweed salad, steamed chilli dumplings, and beef sukiyaki bibimbap. In addition to this set menu, we also ordered Tuna Tataki ($11) to try.
The tuna tataki was not my favourite, unfortunately. The fish did not taste fresh, the onions were chunky, and unlike most others I’ve tried, the tataki had an odd flavour to it. I probably would not order this dish again… luckily, there are many other options to choose from!
My favourite item out of all the starters was definitely the steamed chilli dumplings! The bibimbap was also good but I was hoping the rice would’ve been a little crispier. I wish the onions weren’t so raw tasting too but I think that’s an easy fix for next time.
For our BBQ items, we got bistro hanger steak (miso), filet mignon (salt and pepper), yaki-shabu beef (sweet soy tare), toro beef (sweet soy tare, and chicken thigh (basil). Keep in mind when you are ordering a la carte dishes, you have the option to choose your sauce/marinade for each protein, whereas in the course menus this is predetermined. We were also given veggies – a mushroom medley and broccoli but let’s be real – it’s the meats that were the star of the show!
All of the BBQ items were very well seasoned and with the help of the server, we managed to grill everything successfully. My favourite had to be the yaki-shabu beef and the toro beef. The chicken thigh, although not reminiscent of Asian flavours, was also a good contender.
We finished off our meal with the Taiyaki with Ice Cream ($5). If you’re unfamiliar with taiyaki, it is a fish-shaped (no actual fish!) pastry filled with a red bean filling. You might find other variations, like a custard filling, at some places too. I paired the taiyaki with black sesame icecream while my bf opted for lychee gelato. The ice cream wasn’t anything unique, just good ol’ ice cream. In regards to the taiyaki, it was nice and crispy, the red bean was velvety, but overall the dessert itself was not that mind-blowing. Nonetheless, it was still a sweet treat to end with.
After a great meal, the big bonus for me was also not smelling like smoke when I finished up too. I can’t be the only one who hates leaving BBQ smelling all smoky… The grills at Gyu Kaku were great and the server consistently changed it so that it was not smoky and burnt. Speaking of which – service at Gyu Kaku was very attentive, despite it being a super busy night. Our server took time to explain the menu to us (which was super helpful given the menu had so many options) and periodically check on us.
Whatever the occasion, I think Gyu Kaku is a great option for Japanese BBQ in the downtown core. I thought it was a really fun experience getting to cook my own food and the atmosphere of the space was vibrant and inviting. In comparison to other Asian bbq spots in the city, I also personally find Gyu Kaku to be quite affordable for the amount of food that you get. If you’re going with a bigger group, there are many set menus to suit the number of your party too.
If you’re not looking to spend a lot, they have a great (and cheap!) lunch menu on weekdays, as well as happy hour for some sweet deals. The happy hour meal is also regularly available after 9 and is probably one of the best bang for your buck bbq options in Edmonton ($59 for two people, valued at 88.50).
PS. Check out the Gyu Kaku app to get rewards for dining in!
10416 Jasper Ave, Edmonton