Review: Japanese barbecue chain Gyu-Kaku gives Atlantic Station some dining cred

This is your best bet for a pre-movie steak and beer

Review: Gyu-Kaku

Photograph by Savanna Sturkie

Every few weeks, we offer our “B Review”—a short take on restaurants that are casual and (typically) not too pricey.

It used to be easier to find parking at Atlantic Station than a decent meal. The recent arrival of Gyu-Kaku has changed that. The Yokohama-headquartered chain, which operates more than 700 restaurants globally and nearly 60 in North America, has the concept of Japanese barbecue down to a science (even if it can feel a little canned at times). Now, if only they could help me score a parking spot.

For the uninitiated, Japanese barbecue (or yakiniku) is similar to Korean barbecue, without the complimentary side dishes. You can order a bunch of different cuts of meat (as well as seafood, tofu, and vegetables) that you cook yourself on a gas grill with ventilation built into the table. Small plates like salty and spicy pickled cucumbers, fried pork dumplings, and surprisingly tasty Japanese fried chicken brightened with a squeeze of fresh lemon are also on offer.

Gyu-Kaku’s prix-fixe meals are a convenient way to explore the different cuts and marinades. Meals start at $48 for two people during happy hour; the $170 Shogun option feeds six. Some of the meats served in the prix-fixe meal taste like they’ve sat in the marinade a little too long, but they’re generally tasty. (You can skip the marinated meats by ordering plain premium cuts like filet mignon from the a la carte menu, but that can get expensive.) The prix-fixe option also comes with a selection of starters—edamame, the fried chicken, watery miso soup, house salad bathed in a creamy dressing—and ends with a s’mores kit you roast over the grill on a bamboo skewer.

Kirin beers on draft come in comically oversized mugs, and the service is friendly though sometimes takes a minute to find its rhythm. Given the dearth of decent dining options at Atlantic Station, which is currently being revamped and renovated, Gyu-Kaku stands out from the other chains. It’s your best bet for a pre-movie steak and beer.

★ ★ ★

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265 18th Street,

This article appears in our June 2019 issue.