Gyu-kaku Japanese BBQ (Cupertino, CA)

8:30:00 AM

ギュッ~~ カクカク...

To squeeze and then wobble.

That’s not what the name of the restaurant means, but I chose to break it down into sound effects you might otherwise find in manga-- just because.

According to the Gyu-Kaku’s website, their name means “Horn of the Bull,” which sounds a lot more majestic and suiting of a yakiniku restaurant than “to squeeze and wobble,” but I stand by my point because it sounds cuter.

Gyu-kaku is an extremely popular Japanese BBQ restaurant located in Cupertino in a plaza almost exactly across the street from Valco Mall. Other shops in this plaza includes Wing Stop, Verde Tea, One Pot Shabu Shabu, Beard Papa, Daiso, Marukai, Elephant Bar and etc.

I don’t like how the parking is structured in this plaza because there are way too many cars, people and blind spots unaccounted for, so you have to be very careful driving in this area. Not to mention, it’s so hard to find a parking spot during dinner time due to the many restaurants.

I’ve been to Gyu-kaku about two times before and each time it was on a Monday. Why, you ask?

On Monday it’s HAPPY HOUR all day.

And you know I love a good deal especially when it comes to food!

So my friends and I would make our way over after work to try out their BBQ. As expected, waits can be long, but it’s well worth the wait. Thankfully, they also accept reservations, so prepare ahead of schedule and the wait should be less painful. I recommend bringing several friends along so that you can try out more things.  

The restaurant is pretty big and there’s outdoors seating if the weather is nice and even if it isn't nice, they have the huge heating columns to keep you nice and toasty. And it gets relatively warm as you BBQ anyways. The tables inside are separated by barriers and the lighting inside is dark, which gives you some privacy and it adds to the ambiance.

The servers are attentive and they give you recommendations as well as provide you with the “cook” time needed for your meats and vegetables. They also come check on you frequently if you want to order more dishes or if your grill needs to be changed and oiled. I usually end up ordering things off a la carte, but they have set meals if you want to try a little of everything and don’t feel like picking and choosing.

Drinks. Alcoholic.. of course. It was Happy Hour after all!
I’ll list out the things I've tried, but I don’t have photos for everything. Sometimes your stomach speaks louder than your photography instincts.  

  • Spicy Tuna Volcano
  • Fried Calamari
  • Tofu Nuggets

Rice & Noodles
  • Garlic Noodles (pretty good, but the serving is small. So order a couple if you have a big group.)

Sirloin (?), Duck Breast & Spicy Pork
Meat, Seafood & Veggies
  • Duck Breast
  • Bistro Hangar Steak (#1)
  • Premium Sirloin
  • Miso Butterfish
  • Salmon
  • Yaki-shabu (#2)
  • Spicy Pork
  • Spinach Garlic
  • Sweet Potato


  • Taiyaki with Ice cream

The problem I find with the meats are that it’s very easy to get everything muddled up in your head when you’re just BBQing and looking at it. Unless they have a distinctive flavor like the duck breast or the spicy pork, everything all looks and tastes the same after a while. Tasty and delicious, but I can’t tell which is which.

The ubiquitous mysterious pouches: Spinach & Sweet Potato  
Also, one time we placed an order for the salmon and got the miso butterfish by mistake since all the fishes were wrapped in a foil package (same goes with the vegetables). My friends and I didn't realize it until we were eating it and thought to ourselves how good it tasted and how un-salmon-like it was.

Likewise, if you still have room in your stomach after eating, the taiyaki is a good choice for dessert. They give you the option of preparing it yourself on the grill or to have them cook it in the kitchen. It comes with a scoop of ice cream (black sesame, green tea and vanilla, I believe) and the taiyaki itself has azuki inside. I go with the kitchen route because after an hour or two of grilling, you get grilled-out.

As for the prices, they are well… steep. Gyu-kaku definitely isn't a place you would want to come often especially if you’re paying full price. Even at happy hour prices, it still came out to $20+ per person. So keep that in mind if you decide to try it out. They’re open late, so if you feel peck-ish after dinner, go to Gyu-kaku for the happy hour!

I don’t know how authentic this is, in terms of Japanese BBQ seeing Gyu-kaku is the first and only Japanese BBQ I've been to, but I've seen Japanese people eat here before. So I want to say, it isn't too far off?

Edit: I've added some extra photos provided by Pinky from andpinkysays. She was there both time when we were eating, so if you're tired and hungry from reading about food, head over to her blog and read about makeup!

Are there any other Japanese BBQ places around the Bay Area besides Gyu-Kaku? I’ve been to Izakaya and Teppanyaki… but they’re not BBQ in the sense where you get your own grill.

19620 Stevens Creek Blvd
Ste 150
Cupertino, CA 95014

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  1. Hi Amy, Thanks for visiting foodhoe, you cover an largely unknown area for me, but I have a car and can travel... I'll add you to my reading list for sure! This looks delicious and at $20/pp on happy hour, that is a deal!