Yakiniku literally translates to grilled meat. Although this seems to be somehow like barbeque which is very much American, however, yakiniku is made from wagyu beef which brings this dish to a whole different level. Here are things that you should know about the famous yakiniku dish.
Origins of yakiniku
The way yakiniku is served in Japan is mostly influenced by dishes from Korea like bulgogi. Once the barbeque systems where introduced in Japan by the company, Shinpo around the 1980’s, the ventilated ones at that meaning yakiniku can be cooked without all the smoke, it quickly gathered a lot of fans. But it went really popular around 1991 when the beef sold in the market suddenly had a price down.
Wagyu beef at its finest
The word wagyu comes from ‘wa’ which translates to Japanese while ‘gyu’ translates to cow. This means that wagyu beef comes from a different breed of cattle found in Japan. One of the most popular ones is called Japanese black which accounts for seventy percent of the cattle in the country.
The beef produced from these cattle are then graded depending on the proportion of the meat and it is rated ranging from A to C with A being the highest. It is also rated based on the marbling, the texture, the color and the fat quality. The marbling is rated from one to five, five being the highest. This means that A5 wagyu beef is the highest quality of them all and it also means that wagyu beef has tenderness and flavor that is cannot be rivaled by any other.
Word plays are quite popular in Japan. In Japanese, 8月29 can be read as ya-(tsu)ki-ni-ku (8 = ya, 2 = ni, 9 = ku). Thus, the Yakiniku Association named August 29th as Yakiniku day.
Know your beef cuts
There are so many ways which your wagyu beef can be cut and if you plan on trying everything out, then here are five cuts that you must definitely know about.
This cut of wagyu beef is cut around the area of the diaphragm and has a strong flavor. When it is marinated in soy sauce or miso, it gives out an even stronger flavor than before. The best way to eat this is by having it grilled so that the inside is still tender.
Also known as the brisket, Misuji cut is beef that comes from under the blades of the shoulder of the cattle. This one is a rare cut and that means that it is quite pricey as much as it is delicious.
One of the popular cuts of wagyu beef for a yakiniku dish is the karubi. It is short ribs that are boneless and it is very juicy to the taste and very tender as well. If you want a great experience with your yakiniku, try this cut-out and see the difference between plain old barbeque.
Also quite popular, the lean cuts of beef that comes from the back and also the shoulders are really unique to taste. With the proper marbling and special roasting, it would taste like heaven melting in your mouth.
Considered to be a delicacy, gyutan or also known as the tongue of the Japanese cattle is really popular as well. It is sliced in a very thin manner and it is quick to be cooked. Once the meat starts curling, you should be flipping it over.
Best yakiniku dishes and where to get them in Tokyo
After knowing the cuts, here are some restaurants in Tokyo that will make you want to rush over to have a delicious yakiniku meal.
If you want to try sumibi-yakiniku which is meat cooked over charcoal, then you can go to Toraji for this. The good thing about their beef is that it is marbled so beautifully and cut in a thick manner that will make all those flavors within it and the juices more savory. Their place is also easy to find. The restaurant is good for holding parties or group dinners. You can enjoy their food for around five thousand yen.
Locals and businessman alike love going to this restaurant and having to try a taste of their signature beef ribs. If you are up for something new and high quality then Tendan is one of the best places you can go to.
A5 grade wagyu beef, a premium type of meat that is not easy to obtain is what you can get by going to this restaurant for yakiniku. They will truly make you have a dinner to remember. Their marbling, the taste, the aroma, and the cuts that they make into the beef is one of the best in terms of yakiniku. You can get dinner at Kaen for around three thousand and eight hundred yen.
Alecksandra is a food hobbyist and otaku who has a deep interest in Japanese culture and cuisine. She likes knowing how every food out there in the open came to be, the meaning of their very names, why they taste the way they do and the diverging concepts that are behind every dish. One day she will travel to different countries to go restaurant hopping and share her food adventures to the world.