Prime Gyu-Kaku (CHIJMES)

One thing’s for sure: There’ll be no complaints about the cooking here—because guests cook their own dinners. Gyu-Kaku (“horn of the bull” in Japanese) specializes in yakiniku (Japan’s barbie), and the Tuesday night we went, there was a queue—but thankfully we’d booked.

We were seated in a cozy booth for four surrounded by dark wood lattice and around a table with a large hole in the middle. This was soon filled with hot charcoal, which slowly turned our faces red as we studied the menu. Our starter arrived—kimuchi moriawase (assorted Korean style kimchi), which was crisp, fresh and spicy. This was quickly followed by choregi salad, a basic green salad with lettuce, cucumber, and a sesame flavored dressing.

Assorted vegetables for the yakiniku included fresh onion, pumpkin, mushroom, carrot, cabbage, asparagus, capsicum, corn, and scallion, which we grilled and dipped in the delicious tare, a sweet sauce made from soy sauce, ginger, and fruit juice. To satisfy our carnivorous cravings, we had karubi (beef short rib marinated in tare, salt and miso), harami (beef outside skirt marinated in tare, salt and miso), buta karubi (pork belly), and chicken with butter and garlic, which were all great—and cooked to perfection, of course. But the scallop and calamari were our favorites, smothered as they were in garlic and topped with a knob of butter.

Our set also included bibimba (rice topped with seasoned vegetables), which never arrived—but we were too full to miss it. To finish, the delicious Gyu-Kaku vanilla ice cream came with two unidentifiable toppings: a Japanese bean powder and a splash of treacle-like syrup. Although service was extremely slow, it was clearly a busy night for the newly opened restaurant and the waitstaff remained cheerful and helpful throughout.

Gyu-Kaku is a fantastic place to barbecue with a group for fun and laughs, or even romance your loved one over burning hot coals.