Yakiniku vs. Yakitori vs. Teppanyaki: Japanese Grills

When you think of grilled food representing Japan, what comes to your mind?

Many Japanese people will consider Yakiniku (焼肉) and Yakitori (焼き鳥) to be representative grilled dishes.

You may have heard of these, but do you know how the two differ?

Further, Teppanyaki (鉄板焼き) is also a grill of Japanese origin similar to Yakiniku, but what is the difference between them?

Yakiniku (焼肉) vs. Yakitori (焼き鳥)

This time, I will give an overview of each for those unfamiliar with Japanese food.

First, let me detail what kinds of grilled dishes Yakiniku and Yakitori are.

What is Yakiniku (焼肉)?


Yakiniku (焼肉), literally meaning grilling meat, is, in a word, the Japanese take on Korean barbecue,

where ingredients, such as thinly sliced meat (from various portions of pork and beef, including offal) and fresh vegetables, are placed on the gridiron set over a direct fire and grilled.

In Yakiniku, diners cook the raw ingredients for themselves, and unlike American-style BBQ, we usually eat them indoors.

Once being cooked through, we dip them in a sweet soy sauce-based barbecue sauce called Yakiniku no Tare (焼肉のタレ) and enjoy them.

There are countless Yakiniku restaurants in Japan, including Gyu-Kaku (牛角), but Yakiniku has also become one of the dishes commonly made in homes.

While diners usually grill ingredients on the gridiron in restaurants, when we have Yakiniku at home, we tend to use an iron plate Teppan (鉄板).

What is Yakitori (焼き鳥)?


Yakitori (焼き鳥), meaning grilling chicken, refers to charcoal-grilled chicken on a bamboo skewer made with bite-size meat from various parts (including offal) of the chicken carcass.

Yakitori is cooked by the restaurant chef after being ordered because the preparation and cooking require techniques and skills, unlike Yakiniku.

Also, chefs pre-season the chicken meat during cooking with salt or a sweet soy sauce-based sauce according to your preference.

So you don’t have to season it after being served but can spice it with Shichimi Togarashi.

You can enjoy Yakitori at various places in Japan, including specialized shops.

Izakaya pub restaurants usually have it on the menu, and many supermarkets carry pre-prepared Yakitori. So if you want, you can readily have it.

Further, you can also enjoy Yakitori at summer festivals, where you can see Yatai (屋台) street food stalls preparing and cooking the chicken skewers in front of you.

Yakiniku (焼肉) vs. Teppanyaki (鉄板焼き)


Lastly, let me explain how Yakiniku and Teppanyaki differ.

The dish name, Teppanyaki (鉄板焼き) is a Japanese compound word composed of Teppan (鉄板), meaning iron plate, and Yaki (焼き), a suffix for grilling.

And basically, you can call any dish made using a Teppan griddle Teppanyaki, which includes Yakiniku.


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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