Gyu-Kaku (Topanga Canyon)
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A chain of Japanese party-time Yakiniku (Grilled Meat) Joints in Pasadena.
Yakinuku literally translates as to “Grilled Meat”. Now, I shouldn’t have to wax poetic about the joys of grilled meat to sell you on Gyu-Kaku. The fact that there’s also a party going on at the same time could be a bonus…maybe.
The principle works about the same as at ChoSun Galbee. You order the food, and it arrives before you uncooked, and marinated. You sizzle it up yourself, at the convenient charcoal pits embedded in your table. Three to five minutes later you’re eating.
Now, if you’re worried about cooking at your table, don’t worry, the Wait staff is on hand to give you tips. They’re not quite as proactive as the ChoSun staff (where they’ll practically yank the tongs out of your hands), but they’re knowledgable.
Now, the main drawbacks to this place are the following. One, despite the fact it’s a chain, its real popular. Two, because its real popular, most of the crowd are young people getting their drink on, which is not necessarily bad if you’re looking for a party. However, if you’re looking for a quiet spot for you and your date to chat, this may not be the place for you.
Now, another of the supposed drawbacks (at least according to some wusses at Zagats) is that you leave smelling of Japanese Barbecue. I’m sorry, but can you think of a better way smell?
WHAT SHOULD I GET: Let’s just say that their Harami Miso Skirt Steak is their bestseller for a reason. And let’s also just say that I’m a sucker for anything in Miso (which is red bean paste and sugar). But don’t limit yourself to what I like. There are four other marinades to try: Shio White Soy, Tare Sweet Soy, Garlic and Basil. Experimentation is encouraged by both the staff and myself. Also, there is a Spicy Kalbi soup on the menu, which is just about the most flavorful thing I’ve ever tried anywhere on any menu.
One last thing, Gyu-Kaku is an underrated restaurant for vegetarians. I have brought Vegetarian friends here, and they’ve left veeery happy. And they have a fantastic selection of vegetables made for the grill; especially the Japanese Sweet Potato (with butter) and the Spinach Garlic. Both are reasons to eat there, even if meat never passes your lips.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: You can follow the Dim Sum Formula for the number of dishes you order, but be sure to round down, especially if God forbid, you’re avoiding the veggies.
Also, when it comes to cooking times, the Wait staff is bang on the money…at least when it comes to cookin’ up the meat. When it comes to the veggies, I’ve found that their timing can be a bit off. Just make sure you watch the veggies (especially those sweet potatoes) like a hawk.
PARKING: Going to the Topanga Canyon Location is by far the easiest place of any of the Gyu-Kaku’s to park at.
Here’s the info from the Topanga Canyon Location Webpage:
Valet parking $3.50
Mall parking and street parking available.
Basically, it’s in a mall with a huge parking structure, and all the spaces are free.
Gyu-Kaku Topanga Canyon
6600 Topanga Canyon Blvd.
Canoga Park, CA
Located inside Westfield Topanga Center between Target and the Owensmouth Garage, 1st floor
Tel: (818) 888-4030
Daily 11:30am–5pm (last call)
Mon–Thu 5pm–10:30pm (last call)
Fri & Sat 5pm–11:30pm (last call)
Sun 5pm–10pm (last call)
Sunday & Monday All Day Long
Tues–Thu 11:30am–6:30pm (last call) & 8:30pm–10:30pm (last call)
Fri & Sat 11:30am–6:30pm (last call) & 9:30pm–11:30pm (last call)