The Difference: Yakiniku vs Yakitori vs Teppanyaki

When you think of grilled food that represents Japan, what comes to your mind? Many Japanese people will probably think of “Yakiniku (焼肉)” and “Yakitori (焼き鳥)” as 2 representative Japanese grills.

You may have heard these food names since Yakiniku and Yakitori are becoming popular in some countries. However, can you tell the difference between the 2 types of grilled dishes?

Furthermore, “Teppanyaki (鉄板焼き)” is a Japanese dish similar to Yakiniku, but what is the difference between them? 

For people who don’t know much about these Japanese grills, this time I will explain how they differ from one another.

The Difference between Yakiniku and Yakitori

First off, let me talk about the difference between Yakiniku and Yakitori.

What is Yakiniku (焼肉)?


Yakiniku is, in a word, the Japanese version of Korean barbecue, where ingredients, such as thinly sliced meat (from various portions of pork and beef) and fresh vegetables, are placed one by one on the gridiron set over a direct fire and grilled.

Unlike American-style BBQ, we usually eat the grilled foods indoors while grilling the raw ingredients for ourselves. After cooked through, they are usually dipped in sweet soy-sauce-based barbecue sauce called “Yakiniku no Tare (焼肉のタレ)” and then eaten.

While there are countless Yakiniku restaurants, like the worldwide Japanese Yakiniku restaurant chain “Gyu-Kaku (牛角)”, throughout Japan, Japanese people sometimes enjoy Yakiniku barbecue at home as well.

Although in most Japanese Yakiniku restaurants, ingredients are grilled on the gridiron, when we enjoy the Yakiniku grill at home, we tend to cook the raw ingredients on an iron griddle “Teppan (鉄板)”.

What is Yakitori (焼き鳥)?


Yakitori is charcoal-grilled chicken on a bamboo skewer made of bite-sized pieces of meat from various parts of the carcass. The chicken meat of Yakitori is seasoned with either salt or sweet soy-sauce-based sauce during the cooking.

There are not only Yakitori specialty shops in Japan but many Japanese restaurants and pubs, such as Izakaya, also offer the grilled chicken skewers.

Unlike Yakiniku, Yakitori is usually cooked by the restaurant chef after you order it and then served. This is because the preparation and cooking of Yakitori meat require skills as compared to just grilling Yakiniku ingredients.

The majority of supermarkets in Japan carry precooked Yakitori, so in daily life, we can readily have the grilled chicken if we want to.

What is more, in Japan, Yakitori can also be enjoyed at summer festivals where you can see some “Yatai (屋台)” street food stalls preparing and cooking the chicken skewers.

The Difference between Yakiniku and Teppanyaki


Lastly, let me explain how Yakiniku differs from Teppanyaki.

As I mentioned above, in the name Teppanyaki, “Teppan (鉄板)”, literally meaning iron plate in Japanese, refers to an iron griddle, while “Yaki (焼き)” is the Japanese suffix for “grill” or “cook”.

From this, grilling something on a Teppan or any dish cooked on the iron griddle can be called Teppanyaki, which includes the Yakiniku BBQ using a Teppan.


Hi, I'm Tomo, a Japanese blogger living in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. For the purpose of enriching your life, I would like to introduce things about Japan on this blog, especially unique Japanese products, cooking recipes, cultures, and facts and trivia.

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