Yakiniku (焼肉)

Yakuniku refers to dishes in which meat is cooked on a grill or iron plate. The broad definition of the word encompasses grilled steaks, jingisukan and barbecue. This article describes yakiniku as meat cooked on a grill and eaten at 'yakiniku restaurants' in Japan. For an explanation of dishes in which ingredients are cooked using an iron plate, refer to the article "Teppanyaki."


Methods of cooking meat include jikabi-yaki (on a grill or skewer over an open fire) or teppan-yaki (on an iron plate). The jikabi-yaki method allows fat to drip down, giving the surface of the meat a crispy texture and a relatively fresh flavor. Grilling directly over a fire causes meat to readily brown and the fat that drips down leads to a slight smoking effect which adds a smoky taste. In contrast, cooking using an iron plate makes it difficult for the fat to escape and leads to a rich taste. The absence of an open fire means that the ingredients retain water and a soft texture.

Yakiniku seasonings generally used in Japan include a sauce (yakiniku no tare) which is a comprised of ingredients such as soy sauce, rice wine, sugar, garlic and sesame, salt, pepper and lemon. Teppanyaki and yakiniku are becoming increasingly well known around the world.


Includes Japanese and Korean ingredients.


Yakiniku is thought to have originated in Japan.
As grilling is a basic cooking method, there are various theories regarding its origin but an edition of Ningen Koza of Japan Broadcasting Corporation in 2001 stated that 'although often believed to be part of Korean culture, yakiniku actually originated in Japan after the World War II.'

On page 33 of the July 2006 supplement edition of the magazine called BUBKA, it is stated (as one of a wave of denials in Korea of a Japanese origin) that 'Yakiniku' originated in Japan but even though its place of origin can said to be Japan, it was Korean residents of Japan who actually created it. The argument is that offal, which before the World War II had been either discarded or used as fertilizer, was grilled and eaten by Korean female factory workers in Japan and became what is now known as horumonyaki, and that therefore the custom of grilling offal (small intestine) originated not in Korea but Japan. After the war, while stalls selling horumonyaki became referred to as 'horumonyaki-ya' or 'chosen ryori-ya' (lit. Korean food shop), restaurants started business in Shinjuku which sold high quality meat such as sirloin and beef ribs in addition to small intestine such as mountain chain tripe and bible tripe. This publication claims that the Meigetsukan restaurant run by Korean women in Japan was the origin of yakiniku. It goes on to state the theory that the dish became named 'yakiniku' when the Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea signed in 1965 led to an increase in the number of people converting from the Joseon (old, undivided Korea) nationality to South Korean nationality increased, and the word 'yakiniku' became used as a direct translation of 'bulgogi' as a proposed resolution to a dispute regarding naming that occurred between Korean restaurants operated by Joseon Koreans and those operated by South Koreans.

However, the account given in this magazine is doubtful as the word 'yakiniku' had earlier appeared in Robun KANAGAKI's "Seiyo Ryori Tsu" (1872), a book about Western food as a translation of the word 'barbeque,' and had also appeared in CHANG Hyok-ju's novel entitled 'Gon To Iu Otoko' (a man named Ken) (1933). This is thought to be one of many theories of that various products originated in Korea.

The most generally accepted theory is that the yakiniku culture that had revolved around establishments such as the Edo period restaurant Momonji-ya underwent changes due to the influence of Western European barbeque following the Meiji Restoration, and developed further as a result of exposure to grilled meat dishes from around the world (European steak, North American barbeque, etc.) to become modern Japanese yakiniku.

It is said that the Japanese style of yakiniku presentation, in which meat is chosen and eaten with yakiniku sauce, was first adopted by the Shokudoen restaurant in the Kansai region.


Grill or an iron plate (with holes)

The popular smokeless roaster is patented by a Japanese company.

Yakiniku Day

In 1993, the All Japan Yakiniku Association proclaimed August 29 as the official Yakiniku Day.

Additional information

The yakiniku campaign song 'GO! GO! Karubi-kun' of the All Japan Yakiniku Association (written and composed by OK-D, sung by Saburo TAIHEI & SiSTA) was released as a CD single in 2002. 8,000 copies had been sold as of February 2003 (Nihon Keizai Shinbun, evening edition, February 22, 2003).

[Original Japanese]