For those of you who consider a balanced meal to be mixing a little pork with your beef, this is for you. We’re talking about yakiniku, which literally means “grilled meat.” For some, there is nothing more pure, carnal, and enjoyable than a Big Meat meal. For those of you appalled by the thought, all I can offer you are some grilled onions, pumpkin, maybe some mushrooms, and my apologies.
Yakiniku is eaten at restaurants purposefully designed for the meat eating occasion. You sit at a table with a grill in the middle, and plates of raw meat (plus a few vegetables — not everything on the table should be red, after all) are brought to you. Underneath the grill will either be gas burners or, better still, charcoal that has been pre-heated for you. There is also a ventilation system in place to keep smoke levels down to a minimum.
There are so many meats to choose from, and so little stomach real estate to accommodate with. Naturally, you have your standard fillet meat (think: steak, sliced thin), but you may be surprised to find that this isn’t even in the top three. The most popular meat is none other than beef tongue! It cooks up quick, so don’t dawdle on the grilling. A squeeze of lemon is best when it comes to tongue. For other meats, the standard yakiniku sauce, a slightly sweet, soy sauce-based sauce, is used after taking the meat off the grill.
The second most popular meat is kalbi (rib area), and the third harami, which is known as skirt steak in some circles. Rounding out your top five is rib roast meat. Pork rib meat (boneless, and known as “buta bara” in Japanese) is not in the top five, but is also popular. Beyond these mainstream picks, however, is a whole world of other cuts, organs, and innards, all awaiting your discovery. Perhaps a little stomach lining?