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A Guide on Japanese Style Grilled Meat - Yakiniku

Japanese Yakiniku

Sushi or Ramen might be the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about Japanese Cuisine, but there are several other dishes to try that let you learn more about the Japanese culture and food.

Yakiniku is a Japanese style of grilled meat that should be experienced in a restaurant. Unlike the steak, it is cut into thin slices. It is bite-sized meat and grill on the griddle at a high temperature.

Here we will discuss everything you need to know about Yakiniku. Let’s get started!

What is Yakiniku?


Yakiniku is derived from the Japanese word ‘yaki’ which means grilled and ‘niku’ which means meat which is preferably beef meat. However, Yakiniku is a broader term that often describes the cooked and grilled meat which is pre-seasoned and marinated and cooked on open-flame grill or tabletop.

It is also referred to as meat cooked in a griddle, tabletop grill or a simple pan. No matter what cooking method do you use, grilled meat is served with yakiniku sauce or seasoned with this sauce before grilling.

In Japan, people love to eat yakiniku with dipping sauce, and sprinkle lemon juice over grilled meat before eating.

The History of Yakiniku

The history of Yakiniku dates back to the mid-1920s when Korean immigrants introduced yakiniku in Japan. However, it was originated in Korea, but this was revolved into a Japanese way as yakiniku is influenced by galbi and bulgogi, which are Korean dishes.

It rose to fame after World War II.

It is often advertised as horumonyaki or Joseon. In America, it is called Korean BBQ. After the invention of ventilated BBQ system, its popularity spread everywhere in Japan. Due to this system, diners could enjoy beef yakiniku in a smoke-free ambience.

How to Make Yakiniku

In Japan, the name of the BBQ is Yakiniku. The best thing about this dish is that it draws out the beef’s natural flavour as no pre-seasoning is required. Some dinner prefers additional seasoning, including a pinch of salt, lemon juice, and dipping sauce with the grilled meat.

As the only focus of this dish is to get the natural flavour of meat, it requires good quality ingredients and extra care while cooking. The best thing about Japanese-style grilling is that it requires a little or no marination.

After grilling, it is served with dipping sauce and squeeze of lemon for added flavour. If you overcook it, it will ruin the texture and flavour of the meat. Here’s how to make yakiniku.

  • You need fine cut beef meat slices that have plenty of white fat because you need to grill it on high heat which reduces fat from the meat promptly.
  • If you take too lean meat, it will be left a little dry when you cook it on high heat.
  • Now decide whether you will cook over a flat teppan cook surface or griddle.
  • It is best at high heat i.e. 200C or higher. Cook your marbled slice for a couple of minutes on each side.
  • Try not to cook several pieces on the griddle together. If you cook them together, remember their order so that none of them is overcooked.
Raw Beef

Yakiniku Sauce Recipe


  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. grated garlic & ginger
  • ½ tbsp. ground and toasted sesame seeds
  • 3 tbsp. Soy Sauce
  • 1 tbsp. Mirin
  • 1/2 tsp. Chilli flakes 


  1. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowel and whisk until combined. 
  2. Can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days. 
Chicken Satay

FAQ's on Yakiniku

Here are some of the most commone questions about Yakinuku

What does yakiniku mean?

Yakiniku is a Japanese term that means grilled meat, but it states as grilled meat dishes in a broader sense. According to Japanese writer Robun Kanagaki, Yakiniku is a BBQ of western food. It can also refer to the dishes that are cooked with the same technique as that of Ykiniku.

Is Yakiniku Korean or Japanese?

Japanese don’t have a long tradition of grilling meat. Beef was not eaten in Japan until the 1870s. The first time, the emperor Meiji ate beef in the late 1870s. On the other hand, Koreans ate beef from the era of Mongols when they attacked Japan.

So, the history of Yakiniku originated from Korea in the 1920s. However, yakiniku refers to the Japanese cooking technique with Korean origin in which bite-size slices of beef and vegetables are grilled on a griddle.

Yakiniku is also inspired by Korean dishes like bulgogi and galbi. However, in yakiniku, meat is not marinated before grilling.

Yakiniku being cooked

What does Yakiniku taste like?

Yakiniku is made with tender and fine cuts of beef. The lean and tender meat has umami and mild sweet in taste. However, most restaurants serve it with a thick piece of beef.

It is usually served with yakiniku sauce which has sweet and savoury flavours. Furthermore, this sauce has some sesame essence too that is mainly used to season meat for grilling in Japan.

What do you serve with Yakiniku?

Yakiniku sauce is typically served with yakiniku. Furthermore, grilled vegetables are paired with Yakiniku that includes cabbage, mushrooms, carrot and onions. Some diners also squeeze lemon juice over the slices.

Andy Canter


Ever since I started cooking I’ve been fascinated by how different people’s techniques are and how they best utilise the ingredients around them. Even the person living next door will have their own unique way of frying an egg or cooking a salmon fillet.

This fascination led me on a journey across the globe to discover the countless practices and traditions the world of cooking has to offer. I thought you’d enjoy and find value in sharing that journey with me so I created Cooked Best!