Yakiniku vs Yakitori vs Teppanyaki : What is the difference?

When you think of grilled foods that represent Japan, what comes to mind? Many Japanese will think of “Yakiniku (焼肉)” and “Yakitori (焼き鳥)” as 2 major Japanese grilled dishes.

You may have heard these food names since they are becoming popular in some countries. However, can you explain the difference between the 2 Japanese grilled foods, Yakiniku and Yakitori?

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

This time, I’m going to explain how Yakiniku, Yakitori, and Teppanyaki are different from one another.

The Difference between Yakiniku and Yakitori

First of all, I want to talk about the difference between Yakiniku and Yakitori.

What is Yakiniku (焼肉)?


Yakiniku is the Japanese version of Korean barbecue, where ingredients, such as thinly sliced meat (various parts of pork and beef) and fresh vegetables, are placed one by one on the metal mesh set on a cooking stove and grilled.

Unlike American-style BBQ, we usually eat the grilled foods indoors while grilling the ingredients for ourselves. After grilled, they are eaten usually dipping in sweet soy-sauce-based Yakiniku sauce (Amazon.com).

There are many Yakiniku restaurants, like a world-wide Japanese Yakiniku restaurant chain “Gyu-Kaku (牛角)”, throughout Japan. Besides, Japanese people sometimes enjoy Yakiniku barbecue at home as well.

Although in most Japanse Yakiniku restaurants, ingredients are grilled on the metal mesh, when we eat Yakiniku at home, we tend to cook the ingredients on an iron griddle “Teppan (鉄板)”.

What is Yakitori (焼き鳥) ?


Yakitori are charcoal-grilled chicken on bamboo skewers, which are made of bite-sized pieces of meat from various parts of the chicken. The chicken meat for Yakitori is seasoned with either salt or sweet soy-sauce-based sauce during the cooking process.

There are not only Yakitori specialty restaurants in Japan, but many Japanese restaurants 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 cooking Yakitori meat needs skills as compared to grilling Yakiniku ingredients.

Actually, many supermarkets in Japan handle precooked Yakitori, so we can easily enjoy the grilled chicken if we want to. Yakitori is also enjoyed at Japanese summer festivals, where some street food stalls offer it, cooking just in front of you.

The Difference between Yakiniku and Teppanyaki


As I wrote above, the Japanese word “Teppan (鉄板)” refers to iron griddles, while “Yaki (焼き)” is the Japanese suffix (prefix) for grilling, baking, roasting, and toasting.

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


Hi, I'm Tomo, a Japanese blogger living in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. I want to introduce things about Japan on this blog, especially unique Japanese products, cooking recipes, cultures and trivia.

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