The Difference between Tanshio and Gyutan
Our family sometimes goes to a Yakiniku restaurant in our neighborhood for dinner.
Every time we dine in the restaurant, I definitely order the meat portion “Tan-Shio (たん塩 or タン塩)”, literally “Tongue Salt” or “Salted Tongue, at least once.
When diners order Tanshio, the Yakiniku restaurant near my house serves thinly sliced salted beef tongue, so I assumed Tanshio to be made of cow tongues.
But from the Tanshio snack that I picked up today, I noticed that Tanshio can also be made of pork tongues.
In fact, doing some online research about that, I found out that some Japanese Yakiniku restaurants offer salted, sliced pork tongue by the name of Tanshio.
Tan-Shio (タン塩) and Gyu-Tan (牛タン)
The salted tongue “Tan-Shio (タン塩)” can be eaten in many Yakiniku restaurants around the country where the meat is grilled on a gridiron.
Meanwhile, when we Japanese hear “Gyu-Tan (牛タン)”, many will bring to mind Sendai’s specialty thick beef tongue slices.
Gyutan is a portmanteau word made by combining the Japanese word for “cow” “Gyu (牛)” with the English word Tongue, so unlike Tanshio, Gyutan only refers to beef tongues.
Besides, Sendai’s Gyutan usually uses carefully selected beef tongues and it takes much time and labor to be prepared as compared to average Tanshio slices offered by affordable Yakiniku restaurants.
Specifically, ordinary Japanese Yakiniku restaurants serve the Tanshio beef (or pork) tongue, thinly slicing soon after removing the outer skin.