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Monday, July 24, 2017

Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ

I'm loving all these Asian restaurants, dessert shops, and bakeries popping up all over DFW. To think, just last year, we didn't have any Japanese BBQ places and now we have TWO! Two really great ones too, each with their own large selection of food items.

I was invited to check out Gyu-Kaku in Addison recently. I've only been there once, in NYC, and I only had their amazing Matcha Mille Crepe cake. So I had to make sure they had them for the media dinner that night! I was so psyched! :D

Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ
5290 Belt Line Rd. #115
Dallas, TX 75254
(469) 567-3237
Price: $$$

It was a small group of food bloggers that night (and our +1's) so it was a more intimate event. We had a lot of fun including some sake bombs! (Well, they did, since I don't drink. hehe). Japanese BBQ is a great thing to do with a group of people. You an grill, and chat, and eat, and drink. There's no time limit (I don't think), like at Korean AYCE BBQ places, and you don't smell afterwards because all the grills have these vents on the side that sucks out the smoke. So feel free to take a date there too!

We had a set menu for the night but were told we could order anything else we wanted. I love that they customized each blogger's menu according to the IG account they represented! I'm representing @bestfooddallas! Woot!

Some of the girls got Sake. And you get your own individual ice bucket for the sake bottle. How cool!

Starters: These are all the actual portion size for each order.
Gyu-Kaku Salad $6~ Loved the dressing. And the thin slices of daikon radish on top.

Spicy Tuna Volcano $7~ Crispy, and slightly sticky rice, topped with spicy tuna. They're good! And quite filling.

Miso Chili Wings $7~ I freaking loved these wings. So much flavor!! I can just eat a couple plates of these and be happy. But I only had one that night because I knew how much more food we were getting.

Beef Sukiyaki Bibimbap $7~ 
That stone bowl was seriously sizzling when it was served. It smelled so good! The waitress mixed it all up tableside, and then you let it sit in the bowl to crisp up on the bottom. I love normal Korean Bibimbaps, but the flavor profile for this one is totally different, since they needed to make it Japanese. It was delicious. The thin slices of beef with the caramelized onions perfumed the dish. The rice was plump and had great texture. This is a must!

Garlic Noodles $8~ 
On the menu it said it included chicken. I didn't see any chicken in ours, so maybe they did it differently for us. It was very garlicky which I liked. Probably not the best thing when you're on a date though. hehe. And the noodles were quite overcooked since they were in a stone bowl, so I didn't eat too much of it. I'm a texture person, so I'm pretty picky when it comes to noodles... they need to be al dente!

Mushroom Medley $4~

Garlic Spinach $4~
These veggies come in a foil pack. You put them on the grill and it basically steams them inside. We were told 3-5 minutes each side I think? But the first time we opened them it was still raw veggies. So just keep it on a grill and chat with your friends. hehe. It won't melt or anything.

Prime Kalbi Short Rib $9~ Love me some kalbi. The color on these were so vibrant. The meat was really great. Didn't even need to dip in any of their sauces. Highly recommend.

Toro Beef $5~ This was my favorite meat of the night. Toro beef is beef belly, which basically equals beef bacon. And who doesn't love bacon!! Just look at that fat to meat ratio. It had so much flavor. And it's one of the cheaper cuts of meat, win for me! :P

Harami Miso Skirt Steak $9~
Bistro Hanger Steak $8~
These 2 meats were served together so I forget which is which. They were both good, but one particularly was super tender. I want to say it's the skirt steak? Both had a marinade on it so had lots of flavor. Can't go wrong with either.

So... this was a lot of food so most of us didn't request anything else. But then I asked if they had beef tongue. If it's good, it's really tasty. And it has a unique texture.
Extra: Beef Tongue $9~ (+$1 for Scallion Sauce). 
Most of the girls on my side of the table had never had beef tongue, so I was happy to share this experience with them. And I think they all liked it! The tongue was sliced super thin and it only needs a few seconds on each side. It was really good. Some even had a 2nd piece!

And a tip... everything here is good with BEER! :P

Oh man... we were so stuffed! But it's not over yet cuz we still need to have cake!!

Lady M's Green Tea Mille Crepe Cake (usually served with ice cream) $10~ 
They gave us smaller portions, I think about a third of the normal slice. While my mouth wanted a whole piece, I appreciated them controlling my portions. haha. I freaking love this cake. I'm so happy we have it in Dallas now. It's limited quantity since they need to fly it in, so you just have to take your chances that they have it when you go.

S'mores (2 portions) $2.50~ This was a fun way to end the dinner. We had a blast cooking and eating with everyone!

It was one of the most fun media dinners I've been too. I like the interactive-ness and it was nice that it was a smaller group so we can talk to almost everyone. They have several package specials for 2 people. You can find the menu on their website here. It's a great deal considering all the different dishes you're getting! AND they have Early Happy Hour every day from 11AM-6PM, and Late HH from 9PM-10PM Sun-Thu or 10PM-11PM on Fri and Sat.

Thanks to Gyu-Kaku for having me. They took really great care of us. The wait staff was very attentive... water glasses always refilled! I will definitely be back. I need to bring my husband next time!! :D

Their "Summer BBGYU Festival" just kicked off and goes until 9/4/17. With food and beer discounts, a new kids' menu, and a sweepstakes to win a trip for 2! See their website for more details

*The meal was comped but all opinions are my own.*

Quality of Food: 



Value: (comped)

Overall Experience: 


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Paul Martin's American Grill

I recently got invited to go check out Paul Martin's American Grill. I see it all the time since I go work out at ZYN22 which is in the same shopping center. But it was never on my radar since it's kind of in the corner of the center. However, when I got invited, I scoped out their menu online and wondered why it was never on my radar. haha. Their menu sounded yummy!

I made it a date night with my husband. We went and saw Spiderman Homecoming first, then headed to dinner. Our reservation was at 6PM... upon arriving, the place was already somewhat busy. At least the parking lot was. Not the best set up for self parking and valet in front of the restaurant. But know that there's plenty of parking behind the restaurant as well.

Paul Martin's American Grill
3848 Oak Lawn Ave. Suite 210
Dallas, TX 75219
(214) 521-0116
Price: $$$$+

We were seated immediately. The manager came by to greet us... Jorge was very nice and welcoming. Then our waiter, Aaron, came to take our drink menus and tell us the specials for the day. A very soft spoken man, but he took care of us wonderfully. He was also very detailed when he described the specials, which I appreciated.

Then the manager came back with an Amuse Bouche (watermelon, feta, caviar) from the kitchen. 
I love the contrasting colors of the watermelon and caviar. And Aaron brought us some Bread (with whipped butter, sea salt). What a lifesaver! I was starving!! The bread was soft and pillowy in the middle, and the butter spread so easily. Loved the touch of sea salt on it.

We had 2 different menus to look over. One was for their Happy Hour specials. They have it every day from 3-7PM. Every Day! That's pretty awesome. We ordered 2 appetizers from the HH menu.

Signature Deviled Eggs (cold smoked, crispy La Quercia prosciutto) $6~ I don't think I've ever had a bad deviled egg. I love eggs and I'm not picky on how they're prepped. They came 5 to an order.. for 6 bucks?! That's a great deal.

St. Louis Duroc Pork Ribs (hoisin glaze, green onions) $9~ 
I saw that a friend had gone a couple weeks earlier and ordered looked so amazing I had to have it. O.M.G. Freaking delicious. The meat was super tender. My husband barely got his fork in the meat and it slid right off the bone. It was juicy, flavorful, and had just the right amount of fat to meat ratio. I also loved the glaze and sauce that came with it. It definitely did not disappoint. In fact, with my already high expectations, it easily exceeded it. I would totally go back for HH and just order this. It was by far my favorite thing that night.

My husband ordered a cocktail. Elijah Craig Ginger Punch (12 year bourbon, Domaine de Canton Ginger liqueur, fresh lemon juice, honey, topped with ginger ale) $9~ 
I don't drink, and he's not a big drinker either, but he always wants to try. I had a sip... it was too strong for me. He seemed to have liked it, but then didn't finish. I think he focused on the food once the entrees came and was too full to finish the drink. haha. We do always tend to stuff ourselves silly at a media dinner.

For the main dishes. I went all out. Why not? :P
Prime Bone in Ribeye (22 oz, grass-fed, certified Black Angus; grilled over a live fire) $56~ Side of Chimichurri Sauce. 
Aside from prime rib, ribeye is my favorite cut of steak. And since they only offer prime rib on Sundays, my choice was easy. It was a huge slab of meat. Yaassss! The color on it was great and it came with a cheesy roasted tomato of some sort. I think all their steaks are a la carte, so you'd have to order the sides separately (which we did). I ordered it medium rare but it looked more medium, and some areas even medium well. It was not very pink in the center. Bummer. I know that it's grilled over a live fire, so I wonder if it overcooks easier? If this happens consistently, I would definitely recommend you order your steaks more on the rare side. However, it was still pretty juicy and had enough flavor to stand on its own. I thought the chimichurri sauce was a little bland, but I liked having the herbs with the steak.

My husband got the Special of the Day: Risotto Frutti di Mare (shrimp and mushroom risotto, 8 oz lobster tail, 2 shrimp, crab and crawfish cake, asparagus) $45~ 
This was a very pretty dish. It was hard to capture all the different elements in a photo. I loved the flavor of the risotto. And the crab and crawfish cake was our favorite seafood element on the plate. The lobster was good but he thought the shrimp was overcooked. He liked his dish better between the two. I'd say flavor-wise, I have to agree with him. But I prefer meat over seafood any day. haha.

For the sides we got..
Mac & Cheese (Tillamook 2 year aged white cheddar, La Quercia prosciutto) $7~ I love nontraditional pastas... they used Sfoglini(?) or Trumpet pasta. I love the curly edges. The texture of the pasta was great. But the flavor was a little odd... it took me a while to figure out what it was. I think they were a little heavy handed with nutmeg? It had a spice/warm flavor that was a tad too strong. I'll still eat it though. I love pasta...
Sauteed Brussels Sprouts (bacon vinaigrette) $6~ I was a little surprised that they were roasted/charred, but then I didn't even pay attention to the menu, haha. I just saw brussels sprouts and ordered. It was a change from the typical charred ones (but I love them so). I liked the flavor though. I think it paired well with my steak.

My husband ate his entire plate... so he was pretty much out for the count. But I wanted to try dessert. I mean... I have to right? :P

So he got a Cafe Latte $4~ He said it was very good. They use Mr. Espresso oak wood roasted coffee. It's certified organic and fair trade.

Banana Cream Pie (layers of vanilla bean pastry cream, chocolate, bananas, fresh whipped cream) $10~ 
I couldn't decide on the desserts but ended up choosing the banana cream pie because it's lighter. I was pretty full too! And Aaron told me that it had a layer of chocolate between the crust and the banana filling so it would be enough to satisfy my chocolate craving. It was a nice big slice. I did love the layer of chocolate in the middle. It was just enough to differentiate this banana cream pie from most others. The whipped cream was airy and there was lots of bananas in there. My only complaint is that the crust was a little dry. But pairing it with the whipped cream helped.

It was a good dinner. Although the high point was the appetizer. I will definitely be back for HH to have those ribs again. Aside from their daily HH specials, they also have some other weekly promotions.

Sunday Prime Rib - Texas field green salad, roasted prime rib, mashed potatoes, house-made shortbread cookies and gourmet ice cream. $33~ 3 course meal for a pretty great deal! And I love me some prime rib.

Monday Wine Dinner for 2 for $60~
Texas field green salads, entrees of choice, one bottle of selected wine. This is also a great deal if you're a wine lover. For $60 this is a steal!

Thanks so much to Paul Martin's for having us. It's always nice when I can bring my husband to one of these media outings. :) And the service was great! Thanks Aaron!

*The meal was comped but all opinions are my own.*

Quality of Food: 



Value: (comped)

Overall Experience: 


Monday, July 10, 2017

Niwa Japanese BBQ

My good friend, @basicbrunches, was moving at the end of June. *Tear* So that means we gotta send her off with style! The two of us along with @catchows decided to go to Niwa for her farewell dinner. Thanks so much to Niwa for hosting us! It was the perfect dinner to send off a food blogger, and she this was her first Japanese BBQ!! What an experience!

Niwa Japanese BBQ
2939 Main St.
Dallas, TX 75226
(214) 741-6492
Price: $$$+

The owner, Jimmy, came and greeted us after we were seated. He, along with another waitress, took care of us the entire meal. We all felt so honored that he personally took care of our table and introduced all the dishes. He basically told us that he was just going to send out a bunch of things he thinks we should try. He also asked if we were adventurous eaters, and YES! We are! :D (Note: a lot of these dishes are reduced portions since we were trying so many things, but the prices I'm posting are for the full portions on the menu.)

We started with some drinks...

(On the left) The Hummingbird (tropical citrus, Benedictine, hand crafted grenadine, Hum liquer, Hayman's Royal Dock Gin, house bitters; served over ice) $15~ @basicbrunches said it was good, and strong, I think.
(On the right) Okinawa Ice-Tea (passion fruit, cloudy apple, citrus, cold-brewed green tea; shaken) $8~ Both drinks were cute. The tea was a little tart for my taste but quite refreshing.

Hot Genmai Tea $3~ I decided to stick with my standard hot tea. :)

Spicy Edamame (with chili threads) $5~ I really enjoyed this. This is the first time I've had edamame with sauce on it and it's delicious! It's not really spicy but it had so much flavor. A solid starter to get your appetite going.

Niwa Salad (green cabbage, radish, corn, carrot, tomato, hard-boiled egg, roasted sesame dressing) $7~ This was my favorite out of the 2 salads. I think it was mostly because of the sesame dressing and corn. The dressing was slightly creamy and I loved all the flavors of the elements together.

Wafu Salad (seasonal greens, cucumbers, arare, daikon, Japanese wafu dressing) $7~ My two friends liked this one better. I mean, I liked this too, but I liked the other better. hehe. I always eat my greens! The arare (crispy rice balls) were a nice touch on top for some crunch.

Buta Kakuni (braised pork belly, ginger, mustard, ajitama egg) $9~ 
Jimmy had asked if we specifically wanted anything from the menu and this is the first thing I asked for. I freaking love braised pork belly. That egg on top was great. Perfectly soft boiled and had lots of flavor. The pork belly was tender and fatty, just the way it's supposed to be. I really wanted a bowl of rice to go with this and it would just totally bring back childhood memories. The only thing is that there was something in there that was a little too sweet. I think it was the mustard greens, I can't be sure. But that threw me off a little.

Horenso No Goma Ae (sesame seed cold spinach) $5~ 
I got really excited when we got served this dish. You don't typically see this in Dallas... at least I don't know where to get it. The only time I've seen it was in Japan, and also a Japanese restaurant in Brooklyn that served a traditional Japanese set meal. The sesame gave it a nice nuttiness. Loves it!

Spanish Octopus (fingerling potatoes, aji amarillo, shiso coulis, sudachi aoili, nasturtium leaves) $12~ 
We found out this dish is actually not on the menu. The kitchen prepped it just for us. And it was one of our favorite dishes of the night. Gorgeous colors. The char on the octopus was fantastic. And it was super tender... None of that typical octopus chewiness. I also loved all the various flavors of the different sauces. It was a bold dish, and very well rounded. Hopefully with all the rave reviews, they'll actually put it on the menu?

Sweet Butter Corn (soy butter) $5~ 
This was kinda fun. It was served in a foil pack and placed on the grill to heat up. Once the bag puffs up a little, the waitress came to empty it into a bowl. Such a simple dish... it's just corn. But you can definitely taste the butter and it goes so well with the steamed rice.

Ribeye, NY Strip, Hanger, Beef Belly, Berkshire Pork Sausage
We got a sampler platter with a bunch of different meats. I remember the belly was my favorite. It was so thinly sliced and the strip of fat adds so much flavor. The other meats were marinated. The hanger was the most tender if I remember correctly. But I loved the marinade on the ribeye. The pork sausage was just like a hot dog. A mini one. hehe.

Filet Mignon (cherry wood smoked, butter) $12~ Very cool presentation. It comes in a covered bowl to keep the smoke in to flavor the meat. We all had our cameras out to video when he pulled off the lid. hehe. You get just a hint of the cherry wood. It wasn't overwelming at all.

Beef Tongue (shallots, green onions, garlic, lemon) $10~ 
I love beef tongue. It was a first for @basicbrunches and it took some getting used to. haha. I don't think I've had tongue in such big slices before. You can basically see the sections/muscles of the tongue! TMI? :P It's delicious! It wasn't the most tender beef tongue I've had but I enjoyed the texture. It was also served with a sesame oil/salt/pepper mixture to dip in since this wasn't marinated.

A Miso Soup Intermission... :P

Outside Skirt (miso marinade) $10~ and Short Rib (karubi marinade) $10~ 
These were Happy Hour portions. HH Pick 2 Meats is $11~ Their happy hour specials are pretty killer y'all. So if you can go M-F between 2-6PM, you are getting a really good deal. I loved the flavor of the skirt cut. The short rib was a little tough. But by this time we were all getting really full so I wonder if the enjoyability was diminishing too. haha.

Berkshire Pork Jowl (with housemade Yuzu Kosho) $11~ 
Yuzu Kosho is a paste typically made from chili peppers, yuzu peel, and salt. They made theirs in house and it was done with Thai chilis. That means it's got a kick to it! Loved the combo. And seriously... any cheek or jowl on any animal or fish is the most tender. Trust me.

We were finally winding down. Oooooof. So full! But we haven't had the Pièce De Résistance... the Wagyu!

We got to compare the American vs Japanese Wagyu. Can you guess which is which??

Texas Wagyu (Chuck Flap; 2 oz.) $18~ From A-N Ranch in Sherman, TX. It had beautiful marbling and color but sliced thinly, you can't really appreciate the quality. It was not soft like butter... but was still tasty.

A-5 Japanese Wagyu (NY Strip) $47~ From Miyazaki, Japan. OMG. This is the real deal. We lightly seared it on each side and it basically melted in my mouth. Didn't even need sauce or anything, just wanted to cherish the pure beefy goodness. It was amazing, and was perfect to end our wonderful meal. Guy and girls, take note, if you want to impress your date, get this! It's foodgasmic!

We were down for the count. But of course they sent out desserts. Deep breath! We can do this!!

Panna Cotta (Madagascar vanilla, yuzu strawberry coulis, chilled raspberries and a matcha sugar). 
Beautiful presentation. The panna cotta was soooo jiggly! We had fun with some videos of that. hehe. So light but you still definitely get the vanilla flavor. I'd say eat this one first if you get multiple desserts just because the flavors are so delicate. I think this just edged out as my favorite of the night.

Semi-Freddo Cheesecake (Lemon cheesecake, ginger blueberry compote, lemon curd and a graham crumble). It's like a super rich cheesecake ice cream. Again, beautiful plating. If I wasn't so full I would've killed it. But it's quite rich so I finally gave up. haha.

Coffee Jelly (Full City Rooster's Guatemalan coffee, sweet cream, hazelnut powder and candied almonds). 
This was very interesting. It tasted just like a tiramisu. But the texture of the jello threw me off. It's a very light dessert. The flavor makes me want a denser cake or something instead of the light jello. But then again, I tend to gravitate towards more decadent and rich desserts anyways. This is @catchows's favorite.

What a fantastic meal. We expanded @basicbrunches' culinary horizon and sent her off properly. Thank you so much to Jimmy and the Niwa team for taking such great care of us. I highly recommend checking them out. The Happy Hour specials are a great way to try it without spending the big bucks. Or just go all out if you want to impress someone. And this is a great place for a date... they have suction vents right at the rim of the grill so all the cooking smoke gets sucked in. So you don't smell like you've just been standing next to a smoke grill. haha.

Also, I wanted to mention a series of Sake tasting events they are currently hosting. The first 2 have passed but there are 2 more!! July 23rd and August 6th. Sake Nights. They feature 5-7 sakes for each date. Every date has different ones so the point is to go to all of them to try it all. Plus you get this cool booklet to document your notes from your tastings. Sounds like a fun event with friends!

*The meal was comped but all opinions are my own.*

Quality of Food: 



Value: (comped)

Overall Experience: