As more and more Japanese and Japan-inspired restaurants open in Denver, we keep learning new words. The latest is "yakiniku" — Japanese barbecue. And who better to familiarize the city with yakiniku than a restaurant chain with more than 700 locations worldwide that's been grilling it up since 1997? Gyu-Kaku was founded in Yokohama, Japan, landed in the U.S. in 2001 with a Los Angeles outpost, and opened this past weekend at 1998 18th Street, just a block behind Union Station.
Gyu-Kaku means "horn of the bull" in Japanese, a clue that beef is the main meat sizzling on tabletop grills where you get to cook a choice of thin slices or cubes of short rib, skirt steak, ribeye and filet mignon, plus other marinated options. Pork, chicken, seafood and vegetables also appear on the menu, as well as a long roster of small plates and bowls, in case you don't want to cook your own dinner.
Gyu-Kaku's tabletop barbecues have an open mesh grill (unlike the hubcap-style grill found at many Korean restaurants) fired with a gas flame, and downdraft ventilation built into each table so that smoke and fumes are drawn away from diners. The company also provides cooking tips on its menus, so you can quickly become proficient.
Gyu-Kaku is currently operating in soft-opening mode, so the complete menu may not yet be available, and firm hours have not been posted (although dinner hours from 5 to 9 p.m. are a good bet). Call 720-726-4068 or visit the restaurant's website for more details.