Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Boo in New York – Gyu Kaku

This is the last of my New York posts....

New Year’s Eve in New York is not the most enjoyable occasion when experiencing sub zero temperatures because most of the fun is to be had outdoors. We joined the runners in Central Park (as spectators only of course) and could barely feel our feet standing in the snow watching the fireworks.

Beforehand we had dinner at Gyu Kaku as it was close in proximity to our hotel, it was literally so cold that this was the major factor in selecting the venue. Turning once again to the trusty Zagat guide we booked a table for 10pm. After drinks in the lobby at The Waldorf we braved the cold and ordered champagne cocktails upon arrival.

We were seated opposite the kitchen and the ambiance of the place was very lively with staff and diners all in high spirits. The deal with Gyu Kaku is that you grill your own food at the table and, not really knowing what to choose, we went for the Takumi Course for 2 to share.

To our delight, there was an abundance of food; first up Miso soup and edamame beans (2 of my favourite things!) and a ‘Gyu Kaku’ signature salad (featuring eggs with a miso, soy and mustard dressing). All of these were very good.

Then some ahi-poke (like tuna sashimi but in small cubes), possibly the most tender, melt-in-the-mouth tuna I have ever tasted. Ahi-poke originates from Hawaii and the name refers to the accompaniments, which can vary enormously, we got some very potent wasabi, strips of carrot and some ginger.

Next up came the dishes for the grill, we had prawns (butterflied for even cooking), 3 varieties of beef with different sauces and a delicious mushroom medley which, we were informed, would puff up (the foil wrap) when cooked to perfection. The sauce on the mushrooms was particularly notable, it was very salty and complimented the mushrooms perfectly.

All this was accompanied by a rather huge bowl of spicy sticky rice with chicken. I was very excited when this arrived as I adore this kind of dish but being served in a sizzling hot bowl meant that it went very dry because it continued to cook as it sat at the table, ending up like a crispy fried rice. Still, it was good, we asked for it to be spicy and it was sufficiently so.

We also had green tea and dessert in the form of a pancake – also intended for the grill – some creamy ice cream and a marshmallow for toasting, i'm a sucker for toasted marshmallows!

I don’t know whether it was the pre-dinner gin, the champagne cocktails, the holiday atmosphere or the food but I absolutely loved this meal. The concept is fairly simple and has been tried and tested elsewhere but this was, by my standards, exceptional. Everything was exceedingly fresh, and cooked exactly to your liking because you’re doing it yourself! Service was very efficient and helpful but not intrusive and I felt none of the post meal bloat that I had become somewhat accustomed to in New York! Something like this would be a resounding success in London.

Gyu Kaku
803 3rd Ave, NY

Gyu-Kaku on Urbanspoon

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