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March 6, 2009 | Chicken/Beef/Mutton, JAKARTA, Japanese & Korean Cuisine, South Jakarta

Written by Venny Ng from The Sanctuary

On our last night in Jakarta, I managed to persuade my parents to treat us out at Gyu-kaku, the odd Japanese/Korean barbecue place serving grilled parts of wagyu beef. We picked their Pacific Place outlet. We entered the dark foyer to rows of booth and opted for one of them for privacy although the main dining room looks airier and brighter.

I love the intimate décor, which plays with spot lighting and dark wood. The restaurant was smoke-free too despite boasting an authentic charcoal barbecue on each table because their machine sucked the air from beneath the charcoal bucket instead of from the above. It worked. I didn’t smell like smoked beef after dinner.

Settled, we ordered their Yuri Set for three (comfortably feeding four actually) consisting of Kimchi, Horenzo Salad with sesame dressing, Bimbimbap, and dessert. For the grill, the set provided Ox tongue, Wagyu Nakaochi, Wagyu Ro-su, chicken teriyaki, Salmon with mushroom and cream sauce, and assorted vegetables. We added cubed wagyu prime and a few bowls of rice to the set. Unbelievably, they ran out of Japanese beer.

The whole experience can be summed up in one dish: the smooth, silky and juicy grilled tongue. Smoldering hot from the grill, it was extraordinary. I can’t imagine how good the wagyu ox tongue, available ala carte or in the more expensive sets, must have tasted.

Cubed wagyu prime, seasoned sensibly with only butter and salt, was also a winner. The rest of the items were mixed. The wagyu beef for example, all marinated in a miso solution, possessed the melting and rich texture associated with such marbled piece but more expensive didn’t always mean better as Ro-Su, the cheaper cut, was actually better than the sinewy Nakaoichi.

While the sets are great for first time introduction, for best value I would opt for the tongue, even splurging on the wagyu tongue, the wagyu sirloin, some salad and bowls of plain rice.

A word of caution, unless you know how to grill properly, it’s best to ask the skilled waiter to do it despite the awkwardness of having someone hovers above you. There are cooking orders not obvious to us (we saved the best for last when properly, the tongue should be eaten first to whet the appetite and oil the grill). While the waiter cooked the meat correctly, it was possible to customize. My husband asked for his to be cooked rare and he was happy with the result. However, in my opinion, Gyukaku’s marinated meat dishes should not be eaten too rare as it removes the delicious caramelizing effect.

Lastly, the service was excellent: attentive but not crowding. The waiters were friendly and not at all patronizing considering the prices of the meals. I hope to be back.

Pacific Place
Ground Floor No.51C, Sudirman Central Business District (SCBD)
Lot 3-5, Jl. Jend Sudirman Kav 52-53
Jakarta 12190 Indonesia
ph. +62(21) 51400617

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