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Gyu-kaku is not ready for consumption
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In 2010, during a trip to Japan, Jeroen and I thought about bringing a grilling concept to Manila.
Our friend Joey Lorenzo told us to check out Gyu-Kaku, a popular grilling chain in the country.
We found one in Shibuya. It was a very casual kind of hole in the wall.

Gyu-Kaku Japan
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We liked the vibe and found it charming. The food, not bad.
After a few emails, we found out we had to go through Singapore to get a franchise. We flew to Singapore to meet the owner and found out that casual vibe we enjoyed in Tokyo was nowhere to be found.
It looked kind of posh, which was not what we wanted.

Gyu-Kaku
Dividers at Gyu-Kaku
Gyu-Kaku

So the idea was scrapped. Then last week at while dining at the Fort, I saw that Gyu-Kaku had opened right next to IHOP.
I thought it would be expensive, so I asked my dad to take us to Sunday lunch.
Luckily I found someone on Twitter who knew the manager. I was able to reserve a table for 8 people at 12 noon.

On Sunday, while getting my hair blown out at home, I started getting calls from a 0915 number that I didn’t recognize.
Signal was bad, so I had a few dropped calls. I wondered what the emergency was.
Then we got connected. Gerda from Gyu-Kaku was confirming if we were coming for lunch. I checked the time, it was 11:30 PM.
“Yes we are coming,” I said.
“What time?” she wanted to know.
“Diba 12 o’clock our reservation?”
“Ah OK.”
So I kept calm and carried on.
By 11:45 we were already in the car. I got another call from Gerda confirming if we were going to be there.
I told her we were in the car and on the way.
“But it’s already 12 o-clock!” she said.
I became nervous and checked the time. “No it’s not! It’s 11:45!”
I felt like I was being pressured to fly over there or lose the table.
I felt my blood pressure shoot up. “What’s your name?”
“Gerda.”
“Would you please stop calling me or I will tell the owners what you’re doing.”
She hung up. Hence, the blog entry.

We got there at exactly 12 o’clock. I thought there would be a long queue, but the only queue was for IHOP.
I found Gerda on the phone talking to someone on the phone, which she would not put down when I tried to talk to her. Was she harassing other guests?
I found the Singaporean trainer next to her and told her that Gerda had called me five times since 11:30 and it was annoying.
Gerda never said a word or apologized. She just stood there smiling. #manhid

My parents arrived shortly. We tried to order but found out that so many things were not available, like scallops, bacon and certain kinds of beef.
At 12:30 noon, no sign of salad, drinks or even edamame.
Not even beef, which my brother pointed out, is served raw.
To think Gerda was bugging us to be there at 11:30, there we were starving at 12:30. Never mind the adults, I was worried about my kids.
12:45 came. We finally had some food to share—us five adults. We felt so hungry. Where was the rest of our order?

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We couldn’t even cook the beef because the coals took so long to arrive. There were no dipping sauces, no rice, no drinks.
The food came in trickles. Here’s my dad’s onigiri that we grilled

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The shrimp was good and came in a foil, steamed in garlic butter

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The wagyu beef was OK, but expensive (Php 1500++). I liked it, but my dad found it fatty. I found it tiny. Definitely not for sharing.

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The other beef order was so tough, it took 48 hours to chew. My dad gave up.
Here’s what we all liked—the grilled Japanese sausage.

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I wish I could come back for it, but the service was so bad, my dad called it “the worst meal of my life.” LOL.
Our total bill for 8 people was Php 7,000++. Not bad.
But it was pure chaos. Everybody lacked training. The Singapore trainer shouldn’t leave. Where are the owners?
Twice, the manager and staff would came to our table to say, “Is everything OK?”
And I can’t lie. I said, “We’re coping.”
Not saying you shouldn’t go there. Just don’t go now.

P.S. The kids liked it because they had no idea the adults were trying to manage the bad service. They loved the grilled sausage, which I can probably find in the Japanese grocery anyway.

(Update: this branch is now closed, but a much better Gyu Kaku is open at Shangri-La Plaza East Wing.)

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rose

tsk tsk. my friend works there. i’ll inform him right away. they are the same owners of cpk, ihop, pf changs, morelli’s and mad for garlic. i actually work near their commissary..

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disqus_d7HJn9NdXu

annoying attitude + annoying name. kaloka si Gerda.

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jojoloco Reply:

what you said. never pa nag sorry.

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jojoloco

what you said. never pa nag sorry.

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Guest

If you ever end up here in vancouver, Canada. Try our Gyu-kaku : http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/14/1572781/restaurant/Downtown/Gyu-Kaku-Japanese-BBQ-Vancouver

We love their happy hour on Monday nights. 🙂

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Guest

in the singapore branch ,the service staff are mostly pinoys and they’re pretty good. come back later this year, baka service will be better, if they’ve gotten a lot of feedback na (and hopefully read your blog post)

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tea

I’m sorry (and sad) to hear that about Gyu-kaku there. Gyu-kaku is one of my favorite restaurants here in L.A. particularly the branch in Torrance, CA. and I swear it’s not like that here. The food is good, especially the kalbi chuck and bistro harami, not fatty or tough at all. And the vibe is more like the one in Shibuya than the one in Singapore. Though I have to admit the place is always pack so we have to reserve in advance or else we won’t be able to get a table. It can get pricey but they do… Read more »

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Guest

Gyu-kaku in Vancouver, Canada is really good!!!!! Servers are polite, and food tastes good.

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Guest

Have you thought about bringing in the chain Nabezo instead? They do not do grill, but they have a pretty good shabu-shabu and/or sukiyaki offering at reasonable prices (for Japan). Or is there one in the Philippines already? (I am not connected to them in any way, but I like their food.).

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njmanang

Maybe restaurants should do what Broadway shows does. Do a 3 months preview opening and state that they are are still in process of refining their services. And like Broadway offer discounts during the preview. The show Spiderman was on preview for 2 years LOL. It ended up being a better show with all the feedback and complaint. Sounds like this resto would benefit if they asked for comments and suggestions. I would recommend replacing Gerda : )

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Liz

Wish I had read this entry before eating at Gyu-kaku. Our family ate there Sunday evening and, as your dad said, it was the worst meal we’ve had! Service was horrible and the place wasn’t full since we arrived at 6pm. We had to repeatedly follow up on drinks and dishes only to find out that “the order wasn’t placed”. The server repeated our order twice and got it right so we were left wondering how that happened. We ended up cancelling our lamb dish so that we didn’t have to wait anymore. We left the restaurant hungry! My son… Read more »

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Guest

For grilling, we usually head to Tajimaya in MOA. Reliable service, pretty cheap too.

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mieldv

After years of reading your blog, I finally saw you yesterday at wildflour. Too embarrassed to say hi as I was in pambahay. 🙂

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CVS Reply:

oh! we ate there cause my dad was still hungry…. sana you said hi 🙂

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charmtan

This is a nightmare! we’re intending to go pa this Friday lunch. I hope this post gets to them. Considering that they know you already, they should have extended a little more courtesy. SMH

-charmtan.com

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Guest

I was at Gyu kaku in New York jupst last week! We booked the one close to Times Square but when we got there, they told us that our booking was for Wednesday. Strange! We went instead to the less busier branch close to the Grand Cental Terminal. It was really good.

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chelsea

nakakairita naman si Gerda. was the place packed? i dont see the need for her to call you 5x. people still line up for ihop? i’ve read a lot of complaints about their service and food (cackled when i read IHYPE somewhere) [Reply]CVS Reply:April 8th, 2013 at 3:30 PMfull, but not packed. That’s why I dont’ understand why she was stressing me. [Reply]njmanang Reply:April 9th, 2013 at 12:15 AMMaybe she was fan of your blog and just wanted to talk to you but could not think of anything to say : ) [Reply]CVS Reply:April 9th, 2013 at 10:21 AMhaha! i… Read more »

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Guest

Ay, I know where you read “i-Hype” from. Wahahaha.

“Is IHOP just another iHype?” – uuuuuggggh. Kill me now.

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Guest

Pangalan pa lang, nakakairita avila na.

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Khun Concepcion

There’s a reason why i only go to restaurants at least 3 months after they open… THIS.

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Chris Reply:

Me, 2 months at least. Haha.

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Chris

Me, 2 months at least. Haha.

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Guest

“beef order was so tough, it took 48 hrs. to chew” hahahaha!
and 48 days to digest? 🙂

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mavsny

i hope that the management take care of this, otherwise, it will be a waste for anyone to even go there.

i love going to the gyu-kaku eat village here in NYC. never had a problem with the service for the past four/five years i’ve been going. it can be a bit crowded especially on a friday night but that is always expected.

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