Yakiniku vs Teriyaki: What is the Difference?
“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.
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 that data, it is not well-known overseas compared to ramen and seems to be sometimes confused with “Teriyaki (照り焼き)”.
The Difference between Yakiniku and Teriyaki
Therefore, for those who want to find out how Yakiniku differs from Teriyaki, here I will explain the difference.
First off, the Japanese barbeque Yakiniku 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)” literally means “grilled meat”, it is a dish where raw sliced meat from various portions of beef and pork is grilled on a gridiron or griddle.
The cooked meat is then 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 thinly sliced meat for Yakiniku is usually cooked by diners themselves at the table, and bite-sized fresh vegetables and seafood may be grilled alongside the beef and pork slices.
By the way, the largest Japanese Yakiniku restaurant chain is “Gyukaku (牛角)”, which has many branches around the world.
On the other hand, 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 its 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 the surface a shine.
Unlike Yakiniku, typical ingredients for Japanese Teriyaki 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” before.
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.