The Joy of Cooking Your Own Food
Yakiniku is a Japanese term that means “grilled meat dish.” If you been to a Korean bbq restuarant, then you’re likely familiar with what to expect at a yakiniku restaurant. The major difference in the two is the quality of meat. Japanese meat products are probably some of the best quality in the world, so you can really taste and see the difference.
The first thing I notice when I walk in a yakiniku restaurant is all the smoke. Smoke in this instance is a good thing. I let the smoke enter my nasal passages so that I can savor the aroma of grilled beef, pork, chicken and fresh vegetables. It smells like entering a meat-lovers paradise. You finally get to your seat and your already introduced to the flaming hot ogatans (Japanese charcoal briquettes) at your table. At the restaurant we went to, the shichirin (Japanese barbecue grill) is inside a hole at the center of the table. Other restaurants may have the shichirin placed on top of the table. I personally prefer the shichirin to be inside a hole in the table.
Now at first it might be weird to think that you’re going to a restaurant to cook your own food, ha ha, but hear me out here.
You can choose to order your meat a la carte or get the all-u-can-eat for a set price. With a la carte, you might have higher quality meat choices but remember that your meat is going to be of a high quality to begin with. So if you’re hungry, and we were, opt for the all-u-can-eat at the highest price (where we ate that price was 3,400 yen- roughly $38 USD). That higher all-u-can-eat price gave us a selection of nearly 100 cuts of meats, vegetables, seafoods, rice, tofu and salads. For 1,500 yen more, we added all-u-can-drink and that’s when the beer started flowing. Just like grilling carne asade and onions in Los Angeles on a summer day goes perfect with a Corona and lime, I think that grilling yakiniku goes perfect with a premium Japanese beer.
All-u-can-eat last for 90 minutes. Plenty of time to eat a wide variety of meat dishes and whatever else you choose. To start you off, they bring rice and cheaper meats. Don’t get sucked into grilling the cheaper meats because they are just trying to fill you up. Wait until your orders of high quality meats (like King Harami steak and chicken basil) come out.
Typically, you grill your meat and then dip it into a ssuce known as tare. A popular tare is a Japanese soy sauce mixed with different ingredients that compliment the meats. I like mixing my meats with the rice and then taking a swig a beer.
Having good company is part of what makes eating at a yakiniku restaurant fun. While you’re ordering, grilling, eating and drinking, you should be sharing laughs and good times. This is a definitely a food choice that makes for a perfect date or precursor to a night out with friends.