Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ offers a truly engaging experience for all the senses. As guests walk through the restaurant and are welcomed in Japanese by the staff, they’ll start to see tables testing out their roasters, smell the restaurant’s sizzling offerings and listen to diners’ high-energy conversations as they talk over their cooking.
The modern yakiniku (grilled barbecue) franchise concept opened a Plano location in February. Since then, it has brought tapa-style, high-quality meat and prepared cultural favorites to both those familiar with the practice and those open to trying new dining experiences.
Franchise owners Winston Phan and Christian Le have years of experience in the restaurant business. In 2008 they opened the first Yumilicious storefront and built the brand out to a franchised dessert stop with locations spread throughout the metroplex. But they always knew they wanted to venture into the Japanese barbecue scene.
“We always had it in our mind to open something like this,” Winston said. “And then one day we found out that Gyu-Kaku started franchising, so we reached out to them and that’s how it all got started.”
Both Winston and Christian were drawn to Gyu-Kaku for its breadth of premium offerings and technology. Each table is stocked with a smokeless roaster with a down draft system, so all smoke is sucked into the bottom of the table before it has the opportunity to escape into the air. Guests can grill their own slices of beef, pork, chicken, seafood or vegetables right at their table.
“I want it to be an interactive, social dining experience,” Winston said. “I feel like it brings people together when they can cook things themselves.”
Offerings include separate prix fixe menus – recommended for two, four or six people – and a la carte dishes. Those new to Japanese BBQ can taste a little of everything with the “Meat Lovers” option. The spread includes pre-made and prepared options like miso soup, white rice, salad, edamame and Japanese fried chicken as well as specific meats that you cook yourself, like Premium Sirloin Tare and Bistro Hanger Steak. All raw plates come with suggested marinades that can be substituted for spicy or gluten-free options.
“It gives you the room to try many things on the menu without getting too full,” Winston said.
Guests can create their own courses by ordering a la carte. With starters like Spicy Addicting Cucumber served in a slightly spicy, tangy dressing and Miso Chili Wings coated in a miso and a spicy garlic sauce, guests can munch on something as they start cooking their main dishes.
Because each cut has its own thickness and fat content, it is important to monitor cook times carefully. But Gyu-Kaku’s knowledgeable staff stands ready to give diners insight and tips before diving in. While thin slices of Kobe-style Kalbi short rib might only need 30 seconds on the grill before flipping it over, the poultry, pork and seafood options need a little more time to cook all the way through.
There are also more adventurous options like Beef Tongue, served with a slice of lemon to brighten the protein’s subtle flavors, and dry aged options like the Harami Skirt Steak.
Every prix fixe meal includes a dessert course of s’mores, so guests can roast their own marshmallows over the grill. Or guests can order other indulgent cultural favorites like Lady M’s Green Tea Mile Crepe, 20 layers of thin crepe separated by green tea pastry cream and topped with matcha powder.
This is Winston and Christian’s second Gyu-Kaku. They opened their first franchise in Addison in 2016. But they always knew they wanted to break into Plano and bring the concept to local diners.
“Even when we first opened in Addison, we had our eyes set on Plano, knowing it’s a great, growing city with a diverse group of people,” Winston said.
Try small plates or test limits from the all-you-can-eat menu (available Monday to Thursday). Regardless of one’s choice, a night spent grilling at Gyu-Kaku is a unique dining adventure.Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ >