Monday, December 23, 2019

Gyu-Kaku Charlotte

For my birthday I requested a lunch at Gyu-Kaku, a new Japanese BBQ restaurant on E. Stonewall St. in uptown. There are 700 locations worldwide including in Canada, Hawaii, California and New York. We had a party of eight including my three little ones and my parents. The restaurant is in the Savoy apartment building and the parking situation is challenging - more about this later.

We arrived a couple minutes before the restaurant opened for lunch and thankfully the hostess let us in since it was raining. The restaurant's policy is not to seat until the entire party is there and they were sticking to this like glue even though we were the only ones there and we let them know the rest of our party was parking. Once we all made it in and we figured out the awkward parking situation we were seated and from there the service was excellent. I did find it curious that there was very little leg room on the booth sides where the grills are - I am 5'7" and barely fit so choose your seat carefully!

The idea is that guests grill their own meats and veggies - yakiniku in Japanese - on grills set into the tables. Then there are also side dishes and appetizers served by the waitstaff. There are set menus or you can order a la carte. We opted for a set menu for four which we supplemented with some additional options. There are a couple of kid menus but we opted for our kids to share with us.

Unfortunately I did not take photos but many of the dishes were truly enjoyable - the salmon was a family favorite and several of the beef cuts were truly delicious. We also enjoyed the asparagus, bibimbap appetizer with crispy rice and shrimp cooked in a small pot on the grill. The spicy pork and cabbage salad were also really good.

For dessert they have s'mores, a nice touch and for my birthday they sang to me and brought me a piece of matcha mille crepe cake - yum! My kids got a kick out of the singing and tambourines.

Our waitress was truly extraordinary, satisfying both the grandparent set and the toddler set, even bringing out graham crackers and a juice box for my cranky little one. She really helped correct the experience after the parking situation.

So, the deal is that the restaurant validates for 90 minutes. The way they do this is require you to log into an app (can do as a guest), put in your license plate number and credit card and then they credit you for 90 minutes. There are several issues with this. Some people value privacy and prefer not to enter all this information. Also, 90 minutes was not enough. We were not lingering over our meal, we truly were not finished at that point. We did not get towed or charged but it adds unnecessary anxiety for your guest to have to go through this. Hopefully Gyu-Kaku can get something else worked out with the landlord in order to address this soon.

Overall I truly enjoyed my birthday lunch and found it to be a neat experience. Gyu-Kaku is clearly using quality ingredients and have some quality people working in the Charlotte location. If you have been there, me know what you think in the comments section.