- Mike Kilgore
Often when the Chowette, surly Chowteen and I get in the car we have no idea where we are going to go to eat. We all look blankly at one another and shoot down each others ideas until due to sheer exhaustion we come to some conclusion. But every once in awhile I start the car and say, "I am taking you to a surprise destination." This is normally met with a chorus of boos, and much gnashing of teeth and wailing. But tough is the normal reply. So last night I dragged them to Gyu-Kaku on Pico in West LA, (across the street from La Seranata and next door to Anna's). And please forgive me if I am misspelling the name. It is kind of a high tech looking sort of place with chairs made from aluminium that face the banquette's. It has a "sushi bar" type set up and banquettes along the wall opposite. No suhi, of course. This is the Japanese version of Korean BBQ. I can truthfully say that it was better than I expected, and we might go again. I had the Kalbi soup to start. It has a very flavorful broth with egg and beef rib in it. It is also quite spicy, which I like. Then I chose the babimbap that comes in the stone hot pot. Man is that thing hot. This was the special seafood one they were doing last night with shrimp, squid, octopus, etc. It was really pretty good. My son tried their version of bolkogi,(two orders for the growth king), and my wife tried the kalbi. They have nice little coal fired cooking grills, but I think that the quality of the meat was not as good as that when we go to Koreatown. Also my wife tried the seaweed soup, which was seaweed and hot water. Not much taste. The bill came to $49, plus tip. One caveat, the meat orders to grill are really small. Maybe 7 pieces each. And everything is ala carte, including the steamed rice to go with the BBQ'd meat. In fact I had ice tea and when I asked for a refill the nice Korean waitress was kind enough to say "Refills are not free". So I stuck with ice water, (how much could an ice tea refill cost them? 1 cent maybe?). Oh yeah, my wife also got a side order of their Japanese potato salad. It was two scoops on a bed of lettuce with some little cherry tomatoes scattered around. Not bad, not great. It is a very high energy place and if you went with some friends and tried different things it could be fun. So a mixed review, but worth trying.
My impression (after eating there once) of Gyu-kaku was that it was a fun place to be but the food wasn't particularly interesting. None of my dishes stood out much, although the basil chicken was decent. The drinks were kind of pricey, too.
Thanks for the post. I'd been meaning to ask about it but could never slow down to get the name down.
just so-so, but definitely not worth the wait or the cost. sorry, but i just can't stomach paying for bad kimchee (or chopped onions for that matter). there are several different marinades, the house special seemed the best. the soon dubu (spicy soft tofu stew) was pretty bad, the hot pot bi bim bap was mediocre.
for good tongue, go to chosun kalbi, and remember to ask for lemon. for good overall korean bbq, go to sut bul jeep.
one good note, they had 1 dollar draft beers before 7 p.m., and the service was good and friendly (something you'll never get in a korean restaurant).