Gyu Kaku Cucumber Recipe

Discover the ultimate recipe for Gyu-Kaku Cucumber Salad! This tangy, crisp delight elevates your dining experience. Let's dive in!

Gyu Kaku Cucumber

    Gyu Kaku Cucumber

  • Cuisine: Japanese
  • Category: Side dish, Salad
  • Prep Time:
  • Cook Time:
  • Servings: 4
  • Calories: 20 calories

About this recipe

Gyu-Kaku cucumber salad is a popular and delightful appetizer often found on the menu at Gyu-Kaku, a Japanese yakiniku (grilled meat) restaurant chain.

This refreshing salad is known for its crisp and crunchy cucumber slices marinated in a tangy, sweet, and slightly savory dressing. It perfectly complements the rich and savory flavors of grilled meats that are the centerpiece of the Gyu-Kaku dining experience.

The cucumbers used in this salad are typically Japanese or Persian cucumbers, known for their thin skin and minimal seeds. Slicing them thinly allows for a satisfying crunch and better absorption of the flavorful dressing. The dressing itself combines rice vinegar, sugar, salt, soy sauce, and sometimes a touch of sesame oil, creating a balanced blend of sweet and savory notes with a hint of umami.

One of the standout features of Gyu-Kaku cucumber salad is its versatility. It serves as a cooling and palate-cleansing side dish, offering a refreshing contrast to the grilled meats' bold flavors. The addition of toasted sesame seeds and green onions adds layers of texture and aroma, elevating the overall experience.

Whether you're dining at Gyu-Kaku or making it at home, Gyu-Kaku cucumber salad is a simple yet flavorful dish that exemplifies the harmonious balance of Japanese cuisine, making it a favorite among those who appreciate the interplay of tastes and textures in their meals.

Recipe origin and background

The Gyu-Kaku cucumber salad recipe is part of the menu at Gyu-Kaku, a popular Japanese yakiniku (grilled meat) restaurant chain.

Gyu-Kaku, which translates to "Horn of the Bull" in Japanese, was founded in Japan in the 1990s and has since expanded internationally, including locations in the United States.

While the exact origin of the Gyu-Kaku cucumber salad may not be well-documented, it's representative of the type of refreshing and complementary side dishes often served in Japanese barbecue (yakiniku) restaurants. These dishes are designed to balance the rich and savory flavors of grilled meats with lighter, refreshing components.

Cucumber salads are a common accompaniment to grilled dishes in Japanese cuisine due to their ability to cleanse the palate and provide a contrast in taste and texture. The specific recipe used at Gyu-Kaku likely evolved over time as the restaurant developed its signature flavors and offerings.

So, it is safe to say the Gyu-Kaku cucumber salad is a creation of the restaurant itself, developed to enhance the overall dining experience by providing a cool, crisp, and tangy contrast to the delicious grilled meats that are the restaurant's specialty. It has become a beloved side dish enjoyed by diners at Gyu-Kaku locations worldwide.

Why try this Gyu Kaku Cucumber recipe?

There are a few good reasons to try the Gyu-Kaku cucumber salad recipe:

  1. Refreshing Flavor: The salad offers a refreshing and crisp contrast to richer dishes, making it an ideal palate cleanser and accompaniment to grilled meats or other savory Japanese dishes.
  2. Balance of Flavors: It strikes a harmonious balance between sweet, tangy, and savory flavors, creating a delicious and well-rounded taste experience.
  3. Healthiness: Cucumbers are low in calories and rich in water content, making this salad a healthy choice. The minimal added sugar and oil keep it relatively light.
  4. Quick and Easy: This recipe is simple to prepare and doesn't require any cooking, making it a convenient side dish for weeknight dinners or gatherings.
  5. Versatility: The Gyu-Kaku cucumber salad pairs well with a wide range of dishes, from grilled meats to sushi and sashimi, making it a versatile addition to your culinary repertoire.
  6. Authentic Japanese Flavors: If you enjoy Japanese cuisine, making this salad at home allows you to savor the authentic flavors found in Japanese restaurants like Gyu-Kaku.
  7. Customization: You can adjust the sweetness, saltiness, and other flavors to suit your taste preferences, making it a flexible recipe that you can tailor to your liking.

Overall, trying the Gyu-Kaku cucumber salad recipe is an opportunity to enjoy a classic Japanese side dish that combines simplicity, flavor, and healthiness, all while adding a refreshing touch to your meals. It's a great way to bring a taste of Japanese cuisine to your home kitchen.

What does Gyu Kaku Cucumber taste like?

The Gyu-Kaku cucumber salad has a refreshing and well-balanced taste profile. Here's what you can expect:

  • Sweetness: The dressing for the cucumber salad contains sugar, which imparts a subtle sweetness to the dish. This sweetness is balanced by other ingredients to prevent it from being overly sugary.
  • Tanginess: The primary tangy element in the salad comes from rice vinegar. It adds a pleasant and slightly acidic tang that contrasts nicely with the sweetness.
  • Saltiness: Soy sauce is used in the dressing, contributing a mild saltiness. It's carefully measured to avoid making the salad overly salty.
  • Umami: Soy sauce also brings a subtle umami flavor to the salad, enhancing its overall depth.
  • Sesame: If you choose to include sesame oil and toasted sesame seeds, they will introduce a mild nutty and aromatic quality to the salad.
  • Crispness: The cucumber slices maintain their natural crunch, providing a refreshing and textural contrast to the other flavors in the dish.

The Gyu-Kaku cucumber salad is known for its harmonious blend of sweet, tangy, and savory notes, with a touch of nuttiness if you opt for sesame elements. It's a perfect complement to the rich, smoky flavors of grilled meats, offering a palate-cleansing and refreshing side dish that enhances the overall dining experience.

What is in Gyu Kaku Cucumber?

  • Japanese or Persian Cucumbers: These cucumbers are ideal for this salad due to their thin skin and minimal seeds. They provide a crisp and refreshing texture.
  • Rice Vinegar: Rice vinegar adds a tangy and slightly sweet flavor to the dressing. It's a common ingredient in Japanese cuisine.
  • Sugar: Sugar sweetens the dressing, providing a delicate sweetness that balances the tanginess of the vinegar.
  • Salt: Salt enhances the flavors in the salad and helps draw out moisture from the cucumbers, contributing to their crispness.
  • Soy Sauce: Soy sauce adds a hint of saltiness and umami to the dressing, creating depth of flavor.
  • Sesame Oil (Optional): Sesame oil, if used, imparts a nutty and aromatic note to the salad, enhancing its overall profile.
  • Toasted Sesame Seeds: These seeds are sprinkled over the salad before serving, adding a delightful crunch and a touch of sesame flavor.
  • Green Onions (Optional): Chopped green onions can be added as a garnish to provide color, freshness, and a mild onion flavor.

Equipment required for this recipe

  • Knife and Cutting Board: Substitute: If you have a mandoline slicer, you can use it to achieve uniformly thin cucumber slices.
  • Mixing Bowl: Substitute: A large mixing bowl or any clean, large bowl will work for mixing the cucumbers and dressing.
  • Small Bowl or Measuring Cup for Dressing: Substitute: A regular drinking glass can serve as a makeshift measuring cup for mixing the dressing ingredients.
  • Whisk or Fork: Substitute: A fork works well for stirring and whisking the dressing if you don't have a dedicated whisk.
  • Spoon or Tongs for Tossing: Substitute: Clean hands can be used instead of utensils to gently toss the cucumber slices with the dressing.
  • Plastic Wrap or Cling Film: Substitute: A sealable plastic bag or an airtight container with a lid can be used for marinating the cucumber salad if you don't have plastic wrap.
  • Toaster or Stovetop for Toasting Sesame Seeds (Optional): Substitute: If you don't have a toaster, you can toast sesame seeds in a dry skillet on the stovetop over low-medium heat. Be sure to stir frequently to prevent burning.
  • Serving Dish or Plate: Substitute: Any clean dish or plate can be used to present and serve the salad.

How to make Gyu Kaku Cucumber

Explore a delightful Gyu-Kaku cucumber recipe that's tangy, refreshing, and perfect for your next Japanese-inspired meal. Dive in now!


  • 2-3 Japanese or Persian cucumbers (thin-skinned and crunchy)
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
  • 1-2 green onions, finely chopped (optional)


  1. Start by thinly slicing the cucumbers. You can use a knife or a mandoline slicer to achieve even, thin slices. If the cucumbers have large seeds, you can scrape them out with a spoon before slicing.
  2. In a small bowl, mix the rice vinegar, sugar, salt, soy sauce, and sesame oil (if using). Stir until the sugar and salt dissolve completely. Taste the dressing and adjust the sweetness or saltiness to your preference.
  3. Place the sliced cucumbers in a large bowl.
  4. Pour the dressing over the cucumbers. Toss the cucumbers gently to coat them evenly with the dressing.
  5. Let the cucumber salad marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together. You can leave it longer for a more intense flavor.
  6. Before serving, sprinkle the cucumber salad with toasted sesame seeds and chopped green onions (if using). These add a delightful crunch and aroma to the dish.
  7. Serve your Gyu-Kaku-style cucumber salad chilled as a refreshing side dish with your favorite grilled meats or other Japanese dishes.
  8. Enjoy your homemade Gyu-Kaku cucumber salad! It's a delicious and refreshing addition to any meal.

How to serve Gyu Kaku Cucumber

To serve Gyu-Kaku-style cucumber salad after making it, follow these simple steps:

  1. Remove from Refrigerator: If you marinated the cucumber salad in the refrigerator, take it out and bring it to room temperature for about 10-15 minutes before serving. This allows the flavors to fully develop.
  2. Toss Again (Optional): If the salad has released excess liquid during marinating, you can give it a gentle toss to redistribute the dressing and cucumber slices evenly.
  3. Transfer to a Serving Dish: Use a slotted spoon or tongs to transfer the cucumber slices from the mixing bowl to a clean serving dish or plate. This helps drain any excess liquid and ensures that you get mostly cucumber slices and less liquid on the serving plate.
  4. Garnish: If you have chopped green onions to use as a garnish, sprinkle them over the top of the salad. This adds a pop of color and fresh flavor.
  5. Sprinkle Toasted Sesame Seeds: If you opted for toasted sesame seeds in your salad, generously sprinkle them on top of the cucumber slices. The sesame seeds add a delightful crunch and nutty aroma.
  6. Serve: Your Gyu-Kaku cucumber salad is now ready to be served. Place it on the table alongside your main dishes, whether you're serving grilled meats, sushi, or other Japanese dishes.
  7. Enjoy: Invite your guests or family to help themselves to this refreshing salad as a side dish. It's best enjoyed chilled and complements a wide range of Japanese cuisine.

Rated: 4.9 of 5.0 from 357 reviews.

Recipe Tags: Gyu Kaku Cucumber, Gyu Kaku Cucumber Recipe, Recipe, Easy, Homemade, Top rated

What to serve Gyu Kaku Cucumber with

Gyu-Kaku cucumber salad pairs wonderfully with a variety of dishes, especially those found in Japanese cuisine. Here are some options for what you can serve alongside your Gyu-Kaku cucumber salad:

  1. Yakiniku (Grilled Meat): The salad is a classic accompaniment to grilled meats, such as thinly sliced beef, pork, or chicken. The refreshing cucumber salad provides a contrast to the rich, savory flavors of the grilled meats.
  2. Sushi and Sashimi: It makes a great side dish when enjoying sushi or sashimi. The clean, crisp flavors of the cucumber salad complement the delicate taste of raw fish.
  3. Tempura: If you're serving tempura, the salad can serve as a refreshing palate cleanser between bites of crispy, fried tempura.
  4. Ramen or Noodle Dishes: It can be served alongside ramen, udon, or soba noodle dishes, offering a cool contrast to the hot and savory broth or noodles.
  5. Bento Boxes: It's a great addition to bento boxes as a fresh and healthy side dish. It adds color and texture to a well-balanced meal.
  6. Japanese Curry: If you're making Japanese curry, the cucumber salad can serve as a refreshing side to balance the spiciness and richness of the curry.
  7. Teriyaki or Yakitori: Whether you're grilling teriyaki chicken or yakitori skewers, the salad complements the sweet and savory flavors of these dishes.
  8. Japanese Tapas (Izakaya): When enjoying a variety of small dishes at an izakaya-style meal, the cucumber salad can be one of the refreshing options on the table.
  9. Summer BBQ: While it's a Japanese-inspired dish, this cucumber salad can also be a refreshing addition to your summer barbecue spread, alongside grilled burgers, hot dogs, or other grilled items.
  10. Vegetarian/Vegan Dishes: It's a versatile side that can accompany vegetarian or vegan Japanese dishes, providing a fresh contrast to the flavors.

In nutshell, Gyu-Kaku cucumber salad's light and refreshing taste makes it a versatile accompaniment to a wide range of Japanese dishes and beyond. It's a wonderful way to add a touch of brightness and balance to your meal.

My recommendations and tips

  1. Choose the Right Cucumbers: Opt for Japanese or Persian cucumbers, as they have thin skin and minimal seeds. This type of cucumber ensures a crisp texture and a more pleasant eating experience.
  2. Slice Uniformly: When slicing the cucumbers, aim for uniform thickness. This ensures that the cucumbers absorb the dressing evenly and that the salad has a consistent texture.
  3. Taste and Adjust: Taste the dressing before adding it to the cucumbers. Adjust the sweetness, saltiness, or tanginess to your preference. Some people prefer a slightly sweeter or more tangy salad.
  4. Don't Skip Marinating: Allowing the salad to marinate in the refrigerator is essential. It allows the cucumbers to absorb the flavors of the dressing and results in a tastier salad. Aim for at least 30 minutes, but longer marinating time (up to a few hours) can enhance the flavor further.
  5. Serve Chilled: The salad is most refreshing when served cold. Keep it in the refrigerator until you're ready to serve, and consider using a chilled serving dish.
  6. Garnish Mindfully: If you're using toasted sesame seeds and green onions as garnish, sprinkle them just before serving. This preserves their crunch and freshness.
  7. Customize to Your Taste: Feel free to customize the salad to your liking. If you enjoy more sesame flavor, add a bit more sesame oil or seeds. Similarly, you can adjust the sweetness or saltiness to suit your palate.
  8. Pair Thoughtfully: Consider the main dishes you'll be serving alongside the cucumber salad. It pairs exceptionally well with grilled meats and other Japanese dishes, so plan your menu accordingly.
  9. Use Fresh Ingredients: Use fresh cucumbers and quality ingredients for the best results. Freshness contributes to the salad's overall flavor and texture.

Potential ingredients substitutes

  1. Cucumbers: If you can't find Japanese or Persian cucumbers, you can use English cucumbers as a substitute. They are also relatively thin-skinned and work well in salads. However, regular cucumbers with thicker skin can be used too, but you might want to peel them and remove the seeds for a similar texture.
  2. Rice Vinegar: If you don't have rice vinegar, you can substitute it with white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar. These options will provide a tangy flavor similar to rice vinegar.
  3. Sugar: White granulated sugar is the most common sweetener used, but you can substitute it with honey, agave nectar, or maple syrup for a different flavor profile. Adjust the quantity to taste.
  4. Soy Sauce: If you need a soy sauce substitute due to dietary restrictions or allergies, you can use tamari sauce (gluten-free), coconut aminos (soy-free), or liquid aminos. These alternatives provide a similar umami flavor.
  5. Sesame Oil: Sesame oil adds a distinct nutty flavor, but it's optional. If you don't have it or prefer not to use it, you can omit it without significantly affecting the overall taste of the salad.
  6. Toasted Sesame Seeds: If you don't have toasted sesame seeds, you can use untoasted sesame seeds or omit them altogether. To toast sesame seeds, simply heat them in a dry skillet over low-medium heat until they turn golden brown, stirring frequently.
  7. Green Onions: Chopped chives or thinly sliced red onions can be used as a substitute for green onions if you don't have them on hand. They provide a similar oniony flavor and visual appeal.

Final Remark

In conclusion, the Gyu-Kaku cucumber salad is a simple yet sensational side dish that enhances any meal. Enjoy its refreshing flavors and share the joy of Japanese cuisine with your loved ones. Make it today and savor the taste of culinary delight!

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