While researching for my next trip to Japan, I learned about yakiniku, or Japanese BBQ. My research led me to endless photos of beautifully marbled beef grilled to perfection. I’ve been eagerly jotting down restaurants to try in Tokyo. In the meantime, several spots specializing in yakiniku have opened in Toronto, one of them being Gyubee in Markham. I was invited to check out their AYCE menu and learn more about Japanese BBQ.

Disclaimer: All food and drinks reviewed below were provided complimentary. All opinions expressed below are wholly mine.

Gyubee opened earlier this year and offers an AYCE menu for both lunch and dinner. Although Gyubee is a Japanese restaurant, do not confuse them with typical Japanese AYCE spots. There is no sushi, but a selection of raw proteins to be grilled at the table and a variety of ready to eat side dishes, similar to Korean BBQs. One of the differences between Korean BBQ and yakiniku is that the cuts of meat weren’t marinated. Even though the menu is AYCE, the focus was on high quality, flavourful ingredients that would stand well on their own without the need of any sauces. The grill griddle was also thinner and the meats cooked quickly over the hot coals. Being left alone to cook our order was a touch stressful as I worried about burning the fatty slices of beef and pork. We were lucky that the owner demonstrated how to cook each menu item, and how to tell when they were ready, before leaving us to our own devices. For me, I let The Hubby handle the cooking tongs.

From the dinner menu, I really enjoyed the Boneless Beef Short Rib, Beef Tongue, Pork Belly and Squid. The slices of short rib were stunning, incredibly tender and juicy. There is a menu item for Marinated Sliced Short Ribs, an ode to Canadian customers more familiar with Korean BBQ, but our entire table preferred the taste of the non-marinated version. I found the Beef Tongue very tender, without a hint of graininess. All of the pork cuts were organic and hormone free. We were provided with garlic and salt to eat with the pork, but I didn’t even feel they were necessary, the cuts were so meaty and flavourful.

The menu also had a good selection of vegetables, that included all types of mushrooms, asparagus and zucchini. Sweet Potato was served in a small baking tin with brown sugar, to be cooked all together on the grill. After a few minutes, the sugar caramelized, coating the sweet potatoes with wonderful sticky, sweet sauce. Similarly, Enoki Mushrooms were served in a tin with butter, which melted and infused the enoki as they cooked. This was amazing. Many tins of enoki mushrooms was ordered at our table.

In addition to the high quality raw items, Gyubee offered a few ready to eat items like Salmon Carpaccio, bibimbap, miso soup and cold noodles. After indulging in all the savoury grilled meats, I really enjoyed the refreshing cold noodles, which was rice noodles served in a light acidic broth. The raw, shredded, cabbage salad was another side dish that perfectly accompanied the meat heavy meal. Our meal ended with dessert, creme brulee and a Melona bar (flavours vary daily)!

The restaurant was spacious, modern and elegant with dark wood decor. Booths were roomy and private with tall dividers. Overall, eating at Gyubee was a delicious introduction to yakiniku and I was blown away by their quality of ingredients from the marbled short rib to the juicy pork shoulder to the tender squid.

Gyubee Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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