Longing for something familiar? Try Japan’s version of barbecued food, the yakiniku! Yakiniku is one of the main dishes in the Japanese food menu, you can find it in most of the Japanese restaurant menu. Yakiniku is tasty and satisfying, and it will surely mend your bouts of nostalgia. Yakiniku is, after all, an adaption of Western steak and roast beef.
However, the Koreans had initially introduced grilled foods to Japan. After World War II, Korean restaurants served bulgogi and galbi, which are marinated grilled meats of beef, pork, and chicken. Naturally, the taste was somewhat altered to cater to Japanese palate. In Hokkaidō, a new type of yakiniku, called jingisukan, was created. It consisted of grilled mutton or mature lamb meat. It became a hit among blue-collared workers in Japan that continued to gain popularity up to the present. Most importantly, beef consumption was already legalised during the Meiji Restoration period (1868). The restoration of imperial rule in Japan also paved the way for Western culture to be introduced into the country. To encourage the people to support his campaign of welcoming western culture, Emperor Meiji ate beef in public in January 24, 1973. The royal menu included steak and roasted meat translated as yakiniku and iriniku, respectively. Came 1980, restaurants in Japan improved their facilities and began to install a new barbecue system – one that’s ventilated. So diners were able to enjoy eating grilled food in a smoke-free environment and without them smelling like barbecue! Then in 1993, the All Japan Yakiniku Association declared August 29 as yakiniku no hi or Yakiniku Day.
Today, yakiniku in Japan denotes bite-sized vegetables, meat, or offal (internal organs) that is marinated and then grilled. In some restaurants, yakiniku is cooked at the table in an installed griddle or portable grill where diners have the option of cooking the meats themselves according to their liking.
You don’t have to search high and low to enjoy grilled food in Japan. Right here you can have a bit of barbecue party, but with a Japanese twist!