YAKINIKU: THE HIDDEN DELICACY
September 6, 2016 [category:Japan Sightseeing]
One of the most delicious dining experiences in Japan is hiding in plain sight.
There's this thing, you see, that no one ever talks about that is absolutely fantastic.
Addictive, even. You hear about sushi, you hear about ramen, but you never hear about yakiniku.
Yakiniku is actually a Korean invention that's gained a huge following in Japan. There are yakiniku restaurants everywhere, so it's not hard to find one.
Yakiniku, by the way, means "cooked meat" in Japanese.
And that's what this place is: a meet cooking restaurant! A place that specializes in cooked meat!
"Now wait," I can here you say. "Where I live we cook meat all the time.
There's nothing special about going to a restaurant and ordering a steak."
Now, if that's what this place was all about, you'd be right- but it's not.
You see, at a yakiniku restaurant, you cook the meat yourself.
And it's not in bug slabs like a steak, but in thin, bite-sized pieces.
You heard me right, a yakiniku restaurant is a restaurant where you cook your meal yourself.
How it works is that your table (a booth, usually) has a grill built right into it.
You choose what kinds of meat and what cuts of meat you want from a menu, and then they bring it out on chilled plates, and away you go!
Want it rare, cook it rare. Want it blackened and on fire, you can do that too! Every table has a dedicated fan built into the ceiling above it to whisk the smoke away.
You can get beef, pork, and chicken. Intestines are quite popular as well, but you might want to steer clear of the "horumon" if you're not the adventurous sort.
Some yakiniku restaurants have a menu that you order from like a regular restaurant: pick out your food,
wait for it to be delivered, go from there. Others have what's called a "time menu."
For these, you order from selections such as a 60 minute course, 90 minute course, and so on.
Then you pay a flat rate, per person, and the food keeps coming until the time runs out.
This is the easiest way to go, but it can also be expensive. A party of 4 might end up paying around 7,980 yen (almost $80US) for the cheapest option.
Now a word to the wise.
I had a couple of American friends that used to go to yakiniku every Friday.
After almost a year or more of this, I tagged along.
I was a bit shocked to find that when they cooked their meat, they topped it with sauces as it cooked!
The sauces are for dipping the meet AFTER its done cooking. You're at a yakiniku restaurant, not a BBQ joint :-P