Going Out to Cook

Stephanie Spearman

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While most people dine at restaurants to avoid the tasks involving cooking, some eateries base their ambiance and menu on food that you order and cook for yourself.
In the heart of Honolulu, Hawai’i, there are a few restaurants that cater to this dining-out craze.
Gyu-Kaku, conveniently located between two main shopping centers, features top quality Japanese food that has been prepped and served to dinners raw.
Consumers are treated to a wide selection of vegetables, beef, chicken and shrimp with a variety of sauces and marinades.
“It’s the joy of cooking without all the other junk,” said Terri Nelson, a frequent customer at Gyu-Kaku. “No dishes, no strenuous preparation, the food is always cooked to your preference. It’s awesome!”
The sizzle of the grills, the concentrated faces of the designated chefs at each table and the general feeling of happiness in the restaurant solidifies that everyone should experience cooking for themselves when dining out.
But could the thrill of being your own top chef really last that long?
“I wouldn’t want to come here every time I want to eat out,” said Nelson. “Sometimes I just want someone to cook me my food, bring it to me and then clean up afterward. But coming here is a lot of fun and a special treat.”
About 15 minutes across town, Anna Fryxell sits at Camellia’s, attentively watching her grill so that her mix of vegetables and marinated beef don’t burn.
“I could come here pretty often,” said Fryxell. “I don’t mind cooking for myself. It’s the clean up that sucks.”
Camellia’s is a mom and pop style Korean BBQ eatery. The food is set out in large bins and is buffet style, so the atmosphere is slightly different but the end product is just as delicious.
Sitting across from her friend while the restaurant housed a quiet lunch, Fryxell looked far from discontent.
“I’m not really a picky eater,” added Fryxell, “but I still like to cook my own food. I like being part of the process, I guess.”
Camellia’s features the same circular grills as Gyu-Kaku and both places change grills out often as the marinades tend to char the grill covers.
“Even though I’m cooking for myself,” said Fryxell, “I still feel like I’m getting my money’s worth coming here. The waiters still help us out.”
Nelson, though not about to make the self-cooking restaurant experience an everyday thing, still loves getting out and spending time with her family.
“The point is that it brings people together and gives them a good time,” said Nelson. “What more could I ask for?”
Camellia’s and Gyu-Kaku are just two of a few restaurants that allow you to cook your own food and the Bay Area is sprinkled with similar restaurants, however the quality and flavor of the food make these two places a great place to eat if you ever find yourself in Honolulu.