Gyu-Kaku: Cook-your-own Japanese BBQ

Apparently, it's not too hot to cook.

Friday, July 25 is the debut of the Philadelphia branch of Japanese BBQ bar/restaurant Gyu-Kaku, at 1901 Callowhill St. It's in the Granary, across from stalwart Rose Tattoo Cafe, behind the Free Library and on the same strip of stores as Pizzeria Vetri.

The opening - following several nights of friends-and-family dinners - was pushed up because of demand for the restaurant's 23 BBQ tables, said local owner Abel Maldonado. (The phone did not stop ringing during my visit Thursday afternoon.)

Gyu-Kaku's thing is yakinuku (menus here): You order raw meat, seafood and/or veggies and the kitchen will marinade it as you wish. The server brings it to you. You then grill and sauce it. (Or wimp out and have the kitchen do up bibimbap or a noodle dish.) Figure on $25 a person, plus alcohol, tax and tip, unless you opt for prix-fixes that start at $70 for two people.

It's a high-ceilinged, industrial space, though two semiprivate rooms are more intimate.

The grills vent downward into the tabletops (and out of the restaurant), so the dining room and your clothes remain smoke-free. Each table has its own fire-suppression system, just in case.

Gyu-Kaku means "horn of the bull."

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