Monday, January 19, 2009

Gyu-kaku: Japanese BBQ

with Dr. Mycroft

So the terrible twins ride again...Mycroft and self had another great adventure (oops letting the cat out of the bag) in our search for satisfying wagyu.

Tucked in one corner of UE Square, Gyu-kaku looks like a family eatery. By reputation, it is known as one of the top 3 mainstream wagyu places in Singapore - the others being Aribuya and Daidomon. I will blog about the others onto this review.

We ordered the wagyu sampler, comprising of 4 different cuts of wagyu.

The cuts look promising...beautiful wagyu, I believe from Australia's Mayura Station is used, totalling about 180g. Fullblood and Thouroughbread wagyu is available. Full blood means that both the ox and the cow are wagyu, and Thouroughbread means that the steer is wagyu and often crossed with an Angus cow.

The meat was very nicely marbled. Cattle takes on the flavour from the food it eats, and if you are very discerning, you can tell if the last days of the cow ate maize, or grass, or have had beer. The flavours imbue the fat of the cattle.

The meat is lightly marinated, and grilled over hot coal ambers. Special coal is used, as is typical in specialist BBQ shops in Japan and Korea. I was told by a owner of an excellent BBQ shop in downtown Seoul, that the coal makes a big difference because better coals are more even burning, and are hotter. Also smokeless coals are preferred, so this allows the taste of quality beef is allowed to take center stage and not masked by smoke.

We try to make sure the beef is very lightly medium rare, especially the better marbled cuts like karubi. Fat is destroyed by heat, melting and burning, so delicate cuts should be lightly grilled. The very hot coals will allow charring (Maillard reaction) of the outside, while the insides remain relative cool at medium rare. Intercostal muscle - the part of the meat between ribs require somewhat longer grilling. And tougher cuts like rump will need a bit more grilling, up to about medium is fine.

Then a few grains of Himalayan pink salt is sprinkled on the beef, and eaten. Himalayan salt is deposited when the Himalayas are at sea level 250 million years ago during the Jurrasic era.

The salt is a very pretty pink. Taste is intense salty...perhaps more intense than regular sea salt. Supposedly Himalayan pink salt contains some 84 minerals - giving the salt the characteristic colour, and is the purest form of salt.

Eaten with just the pink salt, the beef was tender...melt in your mouth. The different cuts have different texture, but all were very juicy and tender, very succulent. Eaten with steamed rice, it is excellent. Very excellent. Satisfying.

The set also comes with mixed mushrooms...fresh mushrooms - enoki, shitake, and oyster varietals are mixed in a aluminium foil box, with a knob of butter and cooked over the coals.

The mushrooms in butter were fragrant, and very nice. Very tasty.

81 Clemenceau Avenue
#01-18/19 UE Square
Tel: 6733 4001
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