11 Essentials to Serve With Yakiniku: Sauces, Side Dishes & Drinks
Few things are more fun than a nice tableside yakiniku grilling party, but what goes with it?
Yakiniku is usually served with rice, pickled vegetables, and a soft drink. The most popular soft drinks are calpis, a non-alcoholic fermented milk drink, and Ramune, a carbonated soft drink with a marble inside.
In this guide, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about what to drink with yakiniku and why.
In this post we'll cover:
- 1 Essential Sauces and Marinades for Yakiniku
- 2 Side Dishes to Complement Your Yakiniku Experience
- 3 Alcohol and Drinks to Pair with Japanese BBQ
- 4 Pairing Wine with Yakiniku: A Guide
- 5 Conclusion
Essential Sauces and Marinades for Yakiniku
Here are some of our recommendations:
- Tare: This is a sweet and savory soy-based sauce that is usually served alongside yakiniku. It’s great for dipping your meat in or for drizzling over rice.
- Miso: This is a strong and savory sauce that is made from fermented soybeans. It’s a great option if you want to add some extra umami flavor to your meat.
- Amiyaki: This is a type of sauce that is designed specifically for yakiniku. It includes ingredients like soy sauce, sugar, and rice wine and is great for marinating your meat prior to cooking.
- Salt: Sometimes, the best way to enjoy high-quality meat is to simply sprinkle some salt on it prior to grilling. This allows you to taste the natural flavor of the meat without any extra sauces or marinades.
Side Dishes to Complement Your Yakiniku Experience
No Japanese meal is complete without a serving of steamed rice and miso soup. These dishes are a staple in Japanese cuisine and are a welcome addition to any yakiniku meal. The steamed rice helps to balance out the heat from the grilled meat, while the miso soup provides a refreshing and savory taste to cleanse your palate.
Grilled meat can be quite heavy, so it’s always a good idea to serve some sweet vegetables alongside your yakiniku. Some popular options include corn on the cob, sweet potato, and bell peppers. These vegetables provide a nice contrast to the heat of the meat and add a refreshing touch to the meal.
After finishing your hot and savory yakiniku, a chilled fruit dish is the perfect way to cool down and finish off your meal. Some popular chilled fruit options include frosted grapes, sliced watermelon, and chilled citrus fruits. Serve them in a frosted glass for an extra refreshing touch.
Potato salad is a popular side dish in Japan and is a great addition to any yakiniku meal. The creamy and soft texture of the potato salad helps to balance out the heat of the grilled meat. Plus, it’s a great way to add some vegetables to your meal.
Soft Drinks and Alcoholic Beverages
To wash down your yakiniku, there are plenty of drink options to choose from. Soft drinks like soda and Calpis are great for those who don’t want to consume alcoholic beverages. For those who do, there are plenty of options like chuhai (a flavored mixed drink made with shochu), umeshu (a sweet plum wine), and highballs (a mixed drink made with whiskey and soda). Don’t forget to try some milky and sweet Ramune for a unique and refreshing experience.
Alcohol and Drinks to Pair with Japanese BBQ
When it comes to Japanese BBQ, sake is the most popular alcoholic beverage to pair with it. Sake is a traditional Japanese rice wine that complements the flavors of yakiniku perfectly. It’s also a great way to complete the Japanese dining experience. Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing sake to pair with yakiniku:
- Look for a sake that is dry or semi-dry, as it will balance out the richness of the meat.
- Consider the cuts of meat you’ll be eating. For example, if you’re having fatty cuts like ribeye or short rib, a full-bodied sake will be a good choice.
- Check the quality of the sake. The highest quality sake is called “daiginjo,” and it’s made from the best ingredients and has the most complex flavors.
If you’re not a fan of alcohol or want to try something different, there are plenty of non-alcoholic drinks that go well with yakiniku. Here are some options to consider:
- Green tea: Green tea is a traditional Japanese drink that is often served with meals. It’s a great way to cleanse your palate between bites of meat.
- Miso soup: Miso soup is a staple in Japanese cuisine and is often served as a side dish with yakiniku. It’s a great way to add some variety to your meal and get some extra nutrients.
- Water: It may seem obvious, but water is always a good choice when eating grilled meat. Yakiniku can be spicy and salty, so having plenty of water on the table is important.
In conclusion, when it comes to pairing alcohol and drinks with yakiniku, there are plenty of options to choose from. Whether you prefer sake, beer, whiskey, or something non-alcoholic, there’s a drink out there that will complement your meal perfectly. Just remember to check the quality of the drink, consider the cuts of meat you’ll be eating, and don’t forget to have plenty of water on the table.
Pairing Wine with Yakiniku: A Guide
When it comes to Japanese barbecue, or yakiniku, there is an abundance of dishes served with plenty of fresh vegetables and spicy sauce. Yakiniku is meant to be eaten with a variety of sides and skewers, making it a popular grilling option. However, it’s important to think about what alcohol to pair with your yakiniku meal. While ice-cold beer, sours, shochu, and mixed drinks like soda, water, and juice are common, wine can be a better option for those who prefer a more refined taste.
What to Consider When Choosing Wine for Yakiniku
When it comes to pairing wine with yakiniku, it’s important to consider the flavors and textures of the dishes being served. Here are some factors to keep in mind:
- Yakiniku is known for its smoky and grassy taste, so a wine that melds well with these flavors is ideal.
- The dipping sauces and kimchis served with yakiniku tend to be salty and spicy, so a wine that can balance these flavors is better.
- Vegetables like kabocha squash and pickles are often served with yakiniku, so a wine that can complement these flavors is important.
Wine Suggestions for Yakiniku
Consulting wine books and experts has helped us reach the conclusion that the following wines are ideal for pairing with yakiniku:
- Sauvignon Blanc: This wine proves to be a good match for yakiniku because it has a grassy taste that melds well with the smoky flavors of the barbecue.
- Pinot Noir: This wine is a good option for those who prefer a red wine with their yakiniku. It has a light, oaked taste that can complement the flavors of the dishes.
- Merlot: This wine tends to be more full-bodied and can stand up to the bold flavors of yakiniku.
- Sake: While not technically a wine, sake is a popular option for pairing with yakiniku. It has a light and refreshing taste that can complement the spicy and salty flavors of the dishes.
Other Beverage Options for Yakiniku
If wine isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other beverage options to consider when enjoying yakiniku:
- Ice-cold beer: A classic option that can help balance the spiciness of the dishes.
- Sours: A popular mixed drink in Japan that can be made with shochu and lemon juice.
- Shochu: A Japanese liquor that can be enjoyed on its own or mixed with soda or water.
- Cold beverages: Juice or soda can be a refreshing option to enjoy with your yakiniku meal.
In conclusion, when it comes to pairing wine with yakiniku, it’s important to consider the flavors and textures of the dishes being served. Whether you prefer a light and refreshing sake or a full-bodied merlot, there are plenty of options to choose from.
So, there you have it – everything you need to know about what goes with yakiniku. The best way to enjoy it is to use the sauces and marinades we talked about, and maybe even some of the extra side dishes. It’s a great way to get a taste of authentic Japanese cuisine.
Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.