Gyu-kaku is a big Japanese yakiniku (basically a Japanese version of Korean BBQ) chain both within Japan as well as overseas (including the US - one of them is smack in the middle of Beverly Hills on Restaurant Row), and they made it here to Singapore not long ago. After ages of wanting to go there myself, I finally made it there today.
And it wasn't quite what I was expecting. Instead of the usual yakiniku taste that I have come to love, Gyu-kaku turned out to be too contemporary. I have the same opinion of Gyu-kaku as I do about Sun at CHIJMES: it's a quality meal, but I simply prefer a more traditional Japanese taste. Don't get me wrong: all the ingredients today were top-notch (very thin yet tasty gyutan, lamb that can be cut like a hot knife through butter, pork dribbling in tasty fat, etc.). And of course there was the wagyu beef, the famous Japanese fat-marbled beef that was quite tender (in most cases, at least). Still, the taste was generally a bit too sweet and "modern," as evidenced by the mayonnaise and deli mustard condiments as well as the Caesar salad. (Who the heck orders a Caesar salad at a Japanese restaurant?? Well, it came in the Shougun Set. To be fair, it was pretty good, but in a light rich Japanese way...not quite TJ. At least the menu said that it used "Japanese Caesar" dressing.)
Anyhow, the highlight of the meal for me was the buta karubi (sliced pork), which, as mentioned above, contained just the right amount of overindulgent fat that dribbled onto the flame - and thankfully was not sweet. Although I generally am not a big fan of things wrapped in foil, the ebi grill (prawns in garlic) as well as the hotate (scallops) were impressively decent. And the ishiyaki bibimba was a good way to fill up, even if the chili was too mild (a la Japanese cuisine).
This place is expensive (at least, the wagyu is), but is of high enough quality to be considered "worth it," even though I prefer the more traditional taste of Aburiya further down the river. Besides, the service at this new UE Square addition (#01-18/19, 6733-4001) was very unpolished: they must have interrupted our conversation at least five times (probably more) just to ask if we wanted to clear our grill. Well, at least I can say that I've been here, and can check it off my list. I just don't think that I'll be coming here again on my own accord though.