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Japanese BBQ is a staple part of Japanese cuisine that has been a part of their culinary tradition for centuries. The art of grilling meat over an open flame has been a central part of Japanese cuisine, and the flavours and techniques used in Japanese BBQ have evolved to create a diverse and rich culinary experience. Embark on this smoky journey through Japanese BBQ by exploring all types of Japanese BBQ cuisine, from the traditional to the modern, and from the regional to the global.

Japanese BBQ has a rich history that is deeply rooted in the country’s cultural traditions. In ancient times, people used grilling meat over an open flame as a way to preserve and cook meat. Over the centuries, Japanese BBQ has evolved into a sophisticated culinary art form, with distinct regional variations and a wide range of cooking techniques.

The Elements of Japanese BBQ Cuisine

Japanese BBQ

The main aspect of Japanese BBQ Cuisine is how the dishes are cooked. There are various regional variations of barbecue worldwide, but in Japan, they primarily focus on grilling the meat. One interesting element of Japanese BBQ Cuisine is where they cook the meat, often on cooking equipment specially designed for Japanese BBQ, such as the teppan (鉄板) and the robata (ろばた)

Japanese BBQ Cuisine also prioritizes using high-quality, locally sourced ingredients. In Japan, there is a strong emphasis on using fresh, seasonal produce, which is reflected in how meat is prepared and cooked. The use of traditional Japanese seasonings and marinades, such as soy sauce, mirin, and sake, adds depth and complexity to the flavour of the meat and is a key element of Japanese BBQ cuisine

Japanese BBQ Sauces and Seasonings 

In addition to meat, traditional Japanese BBQ includes a variety of sauces and seasonings, such as shio dare, tare, and mirin. The sauces and seasonings design themselves to complement the flavours of the grilled meat and to provide a balance of textures and flavours. 

One of the most fascinating aspects of Japanese BBQ is how it varies from region to region. Each region of Japan has its unique style of BBQ, with different types of meat, cooking techniques, and flavour profiles. 

For example, in the Kansai region, which includes the cities of Osaka and Kyoto, there is a strong emphasis on marbled beef, such as Kobe beef, which is known for its rich flavour and tender texture. The Hokkaido region, on the other hand, focuses on seafood, such as scallops and crab, that they grill over an open flame and serve with a variety of dipping sauces.

Types of Japanese BBQ Cuisine

The beauty of Japanese BBQ Cuisine is the variety of dishes it offers based on the different cooking methods. Each type has its own set of styles and traditions, making Japanese BBQ Cuisine a must-try for all BBQ enthusiasts.

Japanese BBQ

Yakiniku (焼き肉)

Yakiniku features thinly sliced meat, which we grill over a charcoal grill. The most popular meats used in yakiniku are beef, pork, and chicken; each type of meat has its unique flavour and texture. Japanese BBQ prizes beef, in particular, and uses several different cuts of beef commonly, including ribeye, sirloin, and tongue.

The customer grills the meat based on their preference when eating traditional Yakiniku. Yakiniku emphasizes the meat’s natural flavour, which is why it avoids marinating or pre-seasoning.

The most popular Yakiniku cuts are Gyutan (Japanese Beef Tongue), Karubi (Boneless Short Rib), and Misuji (Brisket). 

Japanese BBQ

Kushiyaki (串焼き)

Kushiyaki refers to “skewers” and is often informally interchanged with Yakitori, a popular Japanese dish of skewered chicken. Both poultry and non-poultry ingredients refer to Kushiyaki. 

Kushiyaki dishes are characterized by the ingredients cut into small shapes and then pierced through skewers called kushi made out of bamboo or Japanese cypress. Beef is usually the main meat for kushiyaki, though pork can also be an ingredient, as well as cartilage, offal, and horse meat. 

Some kushiyaki dishes include seafood, vegetables, and tofu served with Kushiyaki seasonings made out of salt, tare, mirin, and common Japanese spices such as shichimi and wasabi. 

Japanese BBQ

Teppanyaki (鉄板焼き)

The word teppanyaki can be divided into two parts; teppan, which means iron plate, and yaki, which means grilled. Teppanyaki is a type of Japanese BBQ Cuisine that refers to dishes grilled using a teppan, a large flattop grill.

Shigeji Fujioka, a chef from the Japanese restaurant chain Misono, originated teppanyaki, a modern type of Japanese BBQ Cuisine, in NUM0. To attract local and foreign customers, the restaurant showcased the chefs preparing their food by cooking in front of them. 

Popular Japanese dishes cooked under the teppanyaki cooking style include okonomiyaki, yakisoba, and monjayaki. Some teppanyaki restaurants use this cooking style as a form of entertainment by letting the chefs perform for diners through various show tricks using their utensils, ingredients, and equipment.

Japanese BBQ

Robatayaki (炉端焼き)

Robatayaki, also known as “fireside cooking,” is a traditional type of Japanese BBQ Cuisine that utilizes grilling at varying speeds over hot charcoal. What makes robatayaki different is the way the meat is cooked by using an irori or hearth rather than a charcoal grill. Traditionally, robatayaki is often cooked using binchotan coal, which is known to preserve the juices and flavours of the meat without any unwanted odour. Common meats used for Robatayaki are chicken, beef, and pork. 

Traditionally, robatayaki is often cooked using binchotan coal, which is known to preserve the juices and flavours of the meat without any unwanted odour. Common meats used for Robatayaki are chicken, beef, and pork. 

Japanese BBQ

Kabayaki (蒲焼)

Although the term Kabayaki primarily means the preparation of fish. It can also refer to the method of grilling seafood, especially fish and eel.

There is no specific grilling equipment when it comes to Kabayaki. The cook seasons the meat with a sweet soy sauce-based sauce and grills it to be crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.

Kabayaki is a popular type of traditional Japanese BBQ Cuisine because of its affordability and accessibility. The most popular Kabayaki dish is the unagi eel.

The Global Influence of Japanese BBQ Cuisine

Japanese BBQ has also had a significant impact on global cuisine. Moreover yakiniku restaurants and Japanese BBQ joints popping up in cities around the world. In places like Los Angeles, New York, and London, Japanese BBQ has become a popular dining trend. Therefore diners flocking to restaurants to experience the unique flavours and cooking techniques of yakiniku. 

Japanese BBQ

Japanese BBQ has inspired a new generation of chefs and food enthusiasts to experiment with grilling techniques and flavour combinations. Leading to the prominence of BBQ culture in many parts of the world. You can also check out our Ultimate Guide to Japanese Food to know more about Japanese BBQ and other cuisines. 

Fire It Up With Japanese BBQ!

Japanese BBQ is a culinary tradition rich in history, flavour, and cultural significance. From its humble origins as a way to preserve and cook meat. To its current status as a global culinary phenomenon. Moreover, the cuisine of Japanese BBQ has captivated the hearts and taste buds of food lovers worldwide. 

Whether it’s the traditional yakiniku or the modern teppanyaki. Therefore there is no denying the smoky journey that Japanese BBQ has taken us on. Finally, the flavorful experiences await those who seek to explore all types of Japanese BBQ cuisine.