Popular Japanese Barbecue Chain in Houston Now Has a Willowbrook Restaurant

The Japanese barbecue — or yakiniku — chain, Gyu-Kaku started in Yokohama. It first appeared in the United States when a Los Angeles Gyu-Kaku location opened in 2001. Since then, the restaurant concept has been so successful and well-received worldwide that there are now 700 locations. With the opening of a new restaurant at 7748 Cypress Creek Parkway — in a center just across the street from Willowbrook Mall —  four are now in Houston. The other three are in midtown Houston, Sugar Land and Memorial.

Meaning “horn of the bull”, Gyu-Kaku has become synonymous state-side with authentic yakiniku. One reason for it being so well-received by diners is because it provides an authentic yakiniku experience but servers provide enough guidance to make newbies to table-grilling comfortable.

Popular Japanese BBQ chain Gyu-Kaku has another Houston-area location in Willowbrook. Photo courtesy of Gyu-Kaku.

It’s also a fun experience, especially for groups. Diners sit around a shared gas or charcoal grill and cook their own meat, tofu and veggies for a family-style, DIY meal. The concept is not unlike the already popular Korean barbecue concepts found in and around Houston’s International District — which for years have offered family-style dining around in-table grills. What Gyu-Kaku offers, apart from a more Japanese-inspired beef program, spice mixes and marinades, is the convenience of suburban dining. With locations like Sugar Land and Willowbrook, the company is expanding to meet its customers where they live, capitalizing on the growing mainstream popularity of non-western cuisines.

Popular items at all Gyu-Kaku locations include the prime Kalbi short rib and Harami in Secret Pot — prime skirt steak served marinating in the aforementioned “secret pot”. Other traditional beef options include filet mignon, beef tongue and the thinly sliced and affordable Yaki-Shabu Beef marinated in miso or spicy gochujang. Other “ready to barbecue” choices are fatty pork belly, spicy shoyu chicken and duck breast. There are vegetarian options, too, such as grill-ready veggies like zucchini and sweet onion, or ready-to-steam servings of garlic spinach, broccoli, asparagus and more.

Pork belly ready to grill from Gyu-Kaku
Pork belly ready to grill from Gyu-Kaku. Photo courtesy of Gyu-Kaku.

The simple menu offerings, prepared, spiced and marinated in the Japanese style, are both appealing to western palates and representative of their Asian origins. Like the hibachi grills and sushi bars of Houston’s sprawling suburbs, Gyu-Kaku introduces yet another dimension of Japan’s expansive and fascinating culinary culture.

Gyu-Kaku Willowbrook is located at 7748 Cypress Creek Pkwy Suite A, Houston, TX 77070. All Houston-area locations are open from 10:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, and 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

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