Gaku Yakitori – San Jose, CA

Meep and I were looking for a nice spot for yakitori that is not all the way in Los Altos (where Sumika is). I read some decent reviews about Sumiya and their newly opened sister restaurant Gaku. Gaku was pretty close to home, so we gave it a shot. It definitely helped that it is opened till midnight coz we like eating late.

When we got there, I was not too surprised that this place is tiny (most yakitori places are quite small here)

We got seated fairly fast at the counter~

The restaurant had great exhaust system!! The restaurant did not smell at all and I left smelling like I did when I walked in! The grill is covered by glass windows but you can see what is going on.

Menu is fairly simple. One piece of paper with the yakitori choices, where you mark the quantity and type you want to order:

There is also a menu with small plates, rice bowls and noodles that you order directly from the server:

And a specials list:

There is also a nice variety of sake, beer and drinks.


We ordered:

Pork belly wrapped Quail egg $3.50

First dish on the table – great way to start! The pork belly was crispy, juicy and very smoky with a nice hard boiled quail egg in the centre giving it a nice creaminess! yummm….


2 orders Mi (Chicken Thigh) – salt  $3

We started off with these two skewers, which got our tastebuds going for sure. Nicely salted crispy skin makes the skewers here a little more special than Sumika. I find that the chicken was a little overdone but it was still very tasty with a nice smoky flavour.


2 orders Mi (Chicken thigh) – sauce $3

I wasn’t crazy about the sauce for this chicken yakitori. It was a dark soy that is not very salty but has a light bitterness to it. It totally masked any smokey flavour from the grill. That being said, the chicken was nice and moist – grilled to perfection!


Jidori Ontama Gohan $4

Small rice bowl with poached egg & spicy sauce

Look at all that pretty yolk! Egg yolk can make any (almost any) rice bowl taste so much better. This was just simple rice with a light sweet soy, spicy chili paste, egg and green onions. Nice combination of flavours but I felt it needed something more? Maybe more of the spicy chili paste… because it came off a little bland.


2 orders Kalbi (Kobe style beef) $4

OMG – this was delicious! Absolutely f-in amazing. The beef was only lightly grilled so it had a nice smoky flavour but perfectly rare in the middle and each bite I took, it was squirting buttery fat. Every bite was so good, that we ended up ordering another one right after this. Nicely seasoned with a little salt and so you can still taste pure beef and the amount of marbled fat in each piece was just exceptional.


Gyutan (Beef tongue) –  Negi $3.50

This was probably one of the least favourites. The meat was a little fattier than I expected, tough and chewy. The garlic bits were raw so quite overwhelming.


Gyutan (Beef tongue) – $3.50

I actually ordered the salt version but got this. I am not sure what “flavour” it was, might have been miso but it was quite good. The tongue is a little chewy, not as tender as I have had but still pretty good.


Sunaigimo (Chicken Gizzard) – salt $2.50

I really enjoyed the chicken gizzard. There was not funky smell that sometimes gizzard has if not cleaned or prepared properly. Just nice and salty, with a little crisp on the edges and juicy insides. I like a lot!


Teba (Chicken wings) – salt $3

This was not bad, but a little too salty for me. The chicken bits that are close to the bone are dry but for the most part, quite well cooked with a nice ultra crispy skin and a smokey note.


Black Pork Sausage $5

I was quite disappointed when the plate hit the table. I expected a nice in house made sausage but it was pretty much processed pork sausage. Very much like a hot dog but a bit juicier and harder with a nice skin that snaps upon biting. Flavours are not bad, and tasted like normal smoked sausages. Not bad…



Total Damage: $60 (including tax & tip)

Personal Rating: 4 out of 5 ( very very good)

Sumika was our all time favourite yakitori joint with the best chicken thigh skewers in sauce.. But I am glad Meep and I tried Gaku out because now this is a good option when we don’t want to drive 30 minutes for meat on stick. I noticed that unlike Sumika, the smoke from the grill on the yakitori is a lot more subtle here. It seems toned down but most of the skewers were delicious and it is a little cheaper as well.

The service was not bad, the food took a while but hey, every yakitori is grilled to order and I guess they can only grill it so fast. But the server were great. I called to see if the wait was long; guy on the other line said he will call me back (I am always skeptical when they say they will call you back when it is busy) but he did managed to get my name down for a reservation 1/2 hour later. 🙂




Gaku Yakitori

5152 Moorpark Ave
Ste 40
San Jose, CA 95129

(408) 973-9144

Gaku on Urbanspoon

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