It’s been far too long for me in writing about Gun Izakaya, a yakitori Japanese pub serving up some elevated and delicious Japanese street food in the Paseo District of Oklahoma City.
All in a Name
Much like it’s sister eatery Gorō Ramen (click here for my review), the name Gun is the sidekick buddy of truck driver Gorō from the 1985 cult classic film Tampopo. In Tampopo, the plotline revolves around a ramen noodle eatery and, as the story evolves, so does the expertise of the ramen recipe. So, Gun + Izakaya (a type of Japanese bar in which a variety of small, typically inexpensive, dishes and snacks are served to accompany the alcoholic drinks) gives you the name. Think Spanish tapas in Japan.
What is Yakitori Anyway?
In opening Gun, Rachel Cope and executive chef and partner Jeff Chanchaleune evolve into something else…equally as wonderful as Gorō Ramen.
There is carefully grilled meat, sumptuous sides, and a fun atmosphere.
Just as most folk think of ramen as a simple soup, and not realizing the complexity there is in getting it right, it may escape some that yakitori is an elaborate grilling process (the name literally means yaki-grill/burn, tori=bird) as well. From the binchotan charcoal sticks that burn hotly for up to 8 hours, to the tare, a complex sauce the skewered meats are dipped in, this is not simple backyard grilling by any means.
Gun is described as a casual Japanese pub, but we found it to be a nice upscale place for a date night, but in actuality, it would be a fantastic place to go with a group because the dishes are meant to be shared.
We started out with my absolute favorite thing that I got. The Eggplant Wontons, in a sauce with soy, rayu (a Japanese chile oil), fried shallots and micro greens.
Even if you don’t think you like eggplant, try these anyway, They’re stupendous!
We tried the momo, grilled chicken thigh chunks dipped in the tare.
We also tried the tsukune, a minced chicken meatball.
Now granted, you can spend a lot of money on all these small plates of grilled meat, so I recommend you get a balance of dishes and share them. We fortified ourselves with a noodle dish called kare udon.
This dish was fun to slurp on being a moist udon noodle dish, with the flavors of Japanese curry and chicken confit, onion and ginger tinged with redness from being pickled in beets.
In addition to the yakitori bar, there are plenty of tables to lounge at and the other end of the restaurant is a bar featuring quite a collection of sake, local and imported beer and some contraption called a Toki Highball machine, which mixes carbonation with whiskey, something popular in Japanese culture like this one called the Charred Grapefruit.
There are so many other options at Gun to try like the Yakimono, different dishes that are grilled such as shitake mushrooms, shishito peppers and pork belly.
There are also salads and “Snacks” like the osaka okonomiyaki, which I positively plan on trying next visit. It is a savory Japanese pancake consisting of cabbage, mushrooms, duck confit and roasted garlic aioli.
Follow Chef Jeff (@cheff_jeff) and you will see that he is always traveling to Japan for new ideas and the result is that we, as local OKC foodies, are the lucky ones to reap the rewards!
The Location and Other Stuff
Oklahoma City, OK 73103
Looking for Gun Izakaya? Here is a map to help you find it!