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DIY Japanese Barbecue Chain Gyu-Kaku Has Arrived in Montreal

Hone those grill skills

Gyu-Kaku

Crescent Street is now home to hit Japanese barbecue restaurant Gyu-Kaku — the first location in Montreal (and Quebec) out of the chain’s 700-plus location.

Gyu-Kaku’s main focus is yakiniku — seasoned, marinated meat that customers barbecue themselves at small fire pits built into the restaurant’s tables.

The chain has been quiet about its arrival in the city — on social media, they’ve been dead silent, even though the location was first spotted almost five months ago. The restaurant is only doing limited operations for now — it’s open seven nights, but by reservation only, and there’s no alcohol available yet.

The menu isn’t wildly different to Gyu-Kaku’s other Canadian locations (see it over here) — it’s beef-heavy, with 16 different cuts of beef, plus a handful of pork, vegetable poultry, and seafood options, all of which are served ready-to-grill. There are also no-grill options like karaage (fried chicken), takoyaki (octopus balls), tuna tataki, along with salads and rice and noodle bowls.

When the Montreal location gets its liquor license, the main offerings will be beer, sake, and cocktails, including a small selection of very affordable sake cocktails.

While the non-barbecue parts of the menu aren’t too different to various izakayas in Montreal, and some people might bristle at the idea of going to a restaurant in order to cook their own food, the restaurant has some major novelty points working in its favour. Montreal is relatively light on barbecue options (Japanese, Korean, or otherwise), and the sleek in-table barbecues are an extra drawcard — although whether it’s good enough to make the masses keep coming back is a question that can’t yet be answered.

Gyu-Kaku is a big deal in Japan (at least in terms of size) — since 1996 it has spread to around 700 locations in the country, and a handful more in other Asian countries. Outside Japan, North America is the main place where the chain has channeled its expansion efforts — it now has 38 US locations, and Montreal is the fifth Canadian one.

STATUS — Gyu-Kaku is open at 1255 Crescent from 5 p.m. to 9:15 p.m. daily, by reservation only, with no alcohol for the time being (expanded hours and a liquor license are in the works).

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