The Difference: Yakiniku vs Teriyaki
“Yakiniku (焼肉)” is one of the most popular dishes in Japan, together with ramen, and the barbecue restaurants are scattered throughout the city because of the popularity of the dish.
In fact, while it is said that there are more than 25,000 ramen shops around the country, according to the official website of the Statistics Bureau of Japan, the number of Yakiniku restaurants is as many as about 20,000.
Although Yakiniku is widely enjoyed in Japan as shown in the data, it is not well-known compared to ramen and seems to be sometimes confused with “Teriyaki (照り焼き)” by overseas people.
The Difference between Yakiniku and Teriyaki
Therefore, for those who want to find out how Yakiniku is different from Teriyaki, today I will explain it.
First off, Yakiniku is referred to as “Japanese barbecue” in English-speaking countries and is enjoyed indoors, both at the restaurant and at home. The BBQs we have outdoors are usually called just “barbecue”, not called Yakiniku.
As “Yakiniku (焼肉)” translates to “grilled meat”, it is a dish where fresh raw meat, such as various portions of sliced beef and pork, is grilled on a gridiron or griddle, dipped in a “Tare (タレ)” sauce made from soy sauce typically mixed with sugar, mirin, sake, ground sesame seeds, grated garlic, and sesame oil, and eaten.
The sliced meat is usually cooked by diners themselves at the table, and bite-sized fresh vegetables and seafood may be grilled alongside beef and pork slices. By the way, the largest Yakiniku restaurant chain in Japan is “Gyukaku (牛角)” which has many overseas branches around the world.
As I wrote in this article the other day, Teriyaki itself is not a dish, but a cooking technique used in Japanese cuisine. As, in the name, “Teri (照り)” refers to “a shine”, while “Yaki (焼き)” is the Japanese word for “grill”, in Teriyaki, while being grilled, meat is dipped in or brushed with a sweet soy sauce-based sauce to give its surface a shine.
Unlike Yakiniku, typical ingredients prepared for Teriyaki in Japan are chicken breasts or thighs, or fish, such as “Buri (ブリ: yellowtail)”, “Kajiki Maguro (カジキマグロ: marlin)”, “Katsuo (カツオ: skipjack tuna)”, “Sake (鮭: salmon)”, “Masu (鱒: trout)”, “Sawara (サワラ: Japanese Spanish mackerel)”, and “Hamo (ハモ: pike conger)”.
As Teriyaki itself is not a dish, I have never heard of the restaurant named “Teriyaki Restaurant” in Japan. Instead, the Teriyaki dish, such as “Buri no Teriyaki (ブリの照り焼き)”, is often offered by “Teishoku (定食: set menu meal)” style restaurants also scattered around the city.