While locals have a place to visit for casual Korean barbecue and upscale Korean barbecue, we've been lacking a dedicated Japanese barbecue establishment. Even though a few local shops have it on their menus, Japanese food in Houston is mostly dominated by ramen and sushi, as well as some izakaya destinations (recently opened Izakaya-Wa as well as downtown's popular Goro & Gun). But yakiniku is finally finding a Midtown home with the upcoming Gyu-Kaku. Back in January, a rep told us to expect it to open in the months to follow, and they're now anticipating a definite end-of-March debut. Behind the place is REINS International Inc., whose other brands of restaurants include izakaya and shabu-shabu (boiled meat rather than grilled, hot-pot style) places. The mega-chain has 700-plus locations (600 of which are in Japan); it's the Japanese barbecue concept that will be their entrance into the Houston market.
The grill-inclusive tables area already set up inside the West Gray strip center space (see map at right), and the 3,800-square-foot interior is nearly complete. It will eventually seat just over 100 guests by the month's end. While they're still firming up their staff, the general manager tells Eater that they're going to start serving lunch just a few weeks after opening. As for the menu, expect a seafood and meat-centric list where diners will cook the cuts on the personal, built-in charcoal grills. A few other Japanese staples will be added, like sampler plates for big parties and a few ramen options, too. Check back an official opening announcement. Here are a few images from the nearly completed interior: