Nothing can beat a classic Aussie barbie, but Japanese barbeque is worth a try. The thinly sliced meat is put on a sizzling pan and the aroma fills the air around you, which makes you crave it more as you eagerly wait for the meat to cook. Japanese barbeque, yakiniku, is enjoyed by anyone who loves meat.
The History of Yakiniku
Yakiniku literally translates to ‘grilled meat’ and is referred to as the barbequed food we are familiar with at our own barbies. In Kanagaki Robun mentions yakiniku in his “Western Food Handbook,” which became a common term within the public. However, during the Korean War, the term became associated with Korean barbeque. It is believed that the first yakiniku restaurants opened up in Osaka and Tokyo as Korean restaurants. The main distinction between Korean barbeque and Japanese barbeque these days is how the meat is served. At Korean restaurants, staff offer to grill the meat in front of the customer, whilst diners at Japanese restaurants cook the meat by themselves.
Korean barbecue is known for thick pork belly, called samgyeopsal, but the meat for yakiniku is thinly sliced for easy grilling.
With over a hundred years of history, yakiniku is a satisfying meal when you are craving meat. The meal offers sliced meat and vegetables to grill over a charcoal barbeque.
High grade Japanese beef, or wagyu, is popular due to the marbed fat that makes the beef melt in your mouth. Pork and chicken are also common choices for yakiniku, as restaurants offer pork belly, bacon, and sausages. If you’re feeling adventurous, try horumon. Japanese people try not to waste the parts of cows, pigs and chickens that we often don’t use at Aussie barbecues, such as the liver, kidney, small intestine, lungs and heart.
Restaurants often marinate meat before it is served, which includes a mix of soy sauce, sesame oil, and garlic. If you prefer to taste the original fats of the meat, you can order it without marinade. Dipping sauces are provided at the tables.
The most common sauces are yakiniku sauce, lemon juice and spicy sauce. Side dishes such as kimchi and pickled vegetables compliment the meat and add a fresh element to it.
We have compiled a list of our favourite yakiniku buffet restaurants that are cheap and delicious to satisfy your cravings!
The first yakiniku restaurant that may tickle your fancy is called Stamina Taro. Stamina Taro has many branches across Japan, with one branch in Ueno that’s popular among foreigners. At Stamina Taro, you can enjoy multiple types of meat like beef, pork, chicken, and even squid. They also serve over 130 different items, such as sushi, curry and ramen.
Stamina Taro is recommended for families because of its fun food experience. You can make your own ramen or udon bowl and even customise your own curry rice. If you feel like dessert, try making your own fairy floss or crepe!
With so much on offer, you might not believe that the lunch buffet price starts at only 1,300¥ ($15) for 90 minutes. If 90 minutes is not enough time, you can pay a bit extra to stay for 2 whole hours!
Baikingu Kui Kui
Another yakiniku tabehoudai that we highly recommend is called Baikingu Kui Kui and is easy to get to from the East exit of Ikebukuro station. Baikingu offers over 10 varieties of meat but is known for their beef ribs and pork shoulder, which is cut into small pieces to cook quickly but keep it tender. Their menu includes sushi and ramen, but the star dish is kushikatsu, or deep-fried skewered meat. There is a special counter that allows you to make your own kushikatsu by choosing the type of meat, dipping it into a batter, covering them in bread crumbs, and deep-frying them in oil.
Starting from only 1,400¥ ($18) for lunch,you can enjoy 60 minutes of all-you-can-eat barbeque and desserts such as fairy floss, ice cream, and pancakes. Enjoy your time by extending it to 90 minutes for an extra 200¥ ($2.50). At such a cheap price, you can gather your friends to eat yakiniku together!
Kagayaki is located in Minowa Station on the Hibiya line just past Ueno. Their all-you-can-eat yakiniku is around 5,000¥ ($60) with drinks. You can enjoy a range of cuts and meat, including beef, pork, and lamb. Catered to suit the customers’ tastes, you can choose to have your meat in a shabu-shabu style or classic grill. Fresh vegetables are also served to balance the meal.
Fujiya is located within 10 minutes of Meijijingumae Station, so it’s a good place to stop and get something to eat that’s close to Meiji Shrine and Omotesando Ave!
Prices range from 2,000-3,000¥ ($25-35) and meat is cheaper on the 29th of each month (for “niku no hi” or meat day). It is even slightly cheaper for female customers.
Our Favourite All-You-Can-Eat Yakiniku Restaurants!
From birthdays to casual get-togethers, yakiniku is perfect for any occasion. Head to one of our recommendations to enjoy the best of all-you-can-eat yakiniku restaurants!