You go, grill

Massive Japanese barbecue chain fires up first Austin location in new east side development

Massive Japanese barbecue chain fires up first Austin location

Gyu-Kaku will debut at Plaza Saltillo in late 2020. Gyu-Kaku/Facebook

A massive international chain is grilling up its first Austin location in the ever-growing Plaza Saltillo development. According to a release, Japanese barbecue franchise Gyu-Kaku is hoping to be settled into 901 E. Fifth St. sometime in 2020.

Founded in Yokohama, Japan, Gyu-Kaku specializes in yakiniku, literally “grilled meat.” Similarly to Korean barbecue, ingredients are ordered raw, then cooked tableside on a custom charcoal grill.

Worried about getting a face full of smoke as the “intensely marbled” kalbi short rib sizzles? The company has developed a smokeless roaster that draws fumes to the bottom of the table. Presumably the smoke is not then released back into the dining room. (No one wants to eat in an ‘80s music video.)

The raw offerings cover almost every meat imaginable, including several varieties of marinated beef, pork belly and sausages, chicken, duck, shrimp, salmon, and even intestine. The vegetable choices are a little less encyclopedic, but Gyu-Kaku serves zucchini and sweet onions to grill and steamable foil packs filled with butter sauce and mushrooms, asparagus, broccoli, spinach, and corn.

Those who don’t want to cook can find a full selection of ready-to-eat dishes. Appetizers run from light offerings like edamame, spicy cold tofu, and something called an addicting cabbage salad to fried chicken and bacon chips. There is also ramen and Korean bibimbap.

Although the beverage list has not been released for Austin, the locations in the Houston and Dallas areas serve Japanese beer, sake, and wine. Cocktails vary by location but are almost uniformly fruity.

Gyu-Kaku will join several other hospitality projects at Plaza Saltillo. Although San Antonio concept Pinch Boil House pulled out of the project in July, more names keep being added to the roaster, including recently announced locations of Chuy’s and the Kebab Shop.

Since construction is still ongoing, it is difficult to peg down exact opening dates, but a rep for Matthews Real Estate Investment Services, who secured the Gyu-Kaku location, tells CultureMap that it will likely not open until the end of 2020.