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Yakiniku vs Bulgogi: A Comparison of Two Delicious Dishes

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Yakiniku and bulgogi are both delicious Asian BBQ dishes, but there are some differences you should know about.

Yakiniku is a Japanese dish that involves grilling bite-sized pieces of meat, usually beef, pork, or chicken, using charcoal or gas grill, while bulgogi is a Korean dish that involves grilling thinly sliced beef, marinated in a mixture of soy sauce, sugar, garlic, and sesame oil.

Let’s look at the differences between these two dishes so you can decide which one to order next time.

Yakiniku vs bulgogi

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Yakiniku vs Bulgogi

Yakiniku and bulgogi are both delicious grilled meat dishes, but they have distinct differences in flavor and preparation. Yakiniku is a Japanese dish that involves grilling bite-sized pieces of meat, typically beef, pork, or chicken, over a charcoal or gas grill. The meat is often marinated in a sweet and savory sauce before grilling, giving it a rich and flavorful taste. Bulgogi, on the other hand, is a Korean dish that also involves grilling thinly sliced beef, but the meat is marinated in a mixture of soy sauce, sugar, garlic, and sesame oil, giving it a slightly sweet and savory taste with a hint of smokiness.

Serving Style

Another difference between yakiniku and bulgogi is the serving style. Yakiniku is typically served in individual portions, with each person grilling their own meat at the table. The grilled meat is then dipped in a variety of sauces and eaten with rice and other side dishes. Bulgogi, on the other hand, is usually served family-style, with a large platter of grilled meat and side dishes placed in the center of the table for everyone to share.

Price and Value

When it comes to price and value, yakiniku and bulgogi can vary depending on where you go. In general, yakiniku tends to be more expensive than bulgogi due to the higher quality of meat used and the individual portions. However, some Korean BBQ restaurants, such as Shabusen House, offer all-you-can-eat bulgogi at a great value.


Both yakiniku and bulgogi have gained popularity around the world in recent years, with many restaurants specializing in these dishes. Yakiniku has become particularly popular in Japan, with many official yakiniku associations and even a Yakiniku Day proclaimed on August 29th. Bulgogi, on the other hand, has gained a strong following in Korea and has become a staple dish in Korean cuisine.

In conclusion, whether you have an appetite for sushi or BBQ, both yakiniku and bulgogi are great options to satisfy your cravings. So why not give them both a try and see which one you prefer?

Yakiniku: A Japanese Style of Grilled Meat

Yakiniku is a Japanese style of cooking meat that literally means “grilled meat.” It originated in Japan in the post-World War II era and was popularized by the consumption of beef, which was previously considered a luxury. Unlike bulgogi, which is typically marinated, yakiniku is simply seasoned with soy sauce or salt and pepper.

How is Yakiniku Prepared?

Yakiniku is prepared by grilling small pieces of meat, usually beef or pork, on a griddle or a wire mesh over a charcoal or gas flame. Diners usually sit at a table with a built-in grill and choose their cuts of meat, which are served raw and sliced into bite-sized pieces. They then cook the meat themselves, a tradition known as “shichirin” style.

What are Some Popular Yakiniku Dishes?

Some popular yakiniku dishes include:

  • Kalbi: a choice cut of beef short ribs
  • Harami: a fatty cut of beef skirt steak
  • Tongue: thinly sliced beef tongue
  • Pork belly: thick strips of marbled pork belly
  • Chicken: sliced chicken pieces

What is the Best Way to Enjoy Yakiniku?

To enjoy yakiniku to the fullest, it is recommended to:

  • Start with grilled vegetables to balance out the meat consumption
  • Switch up the meat cuts to try new flavors and textures
  • Allow the fat to render and mix with the sauce for a sweet and smoky flavor
  • Try a slightly sweet and savory sauce, such as a soy sauce and sake mixture
  • Check with the restaurant if they have a dedicated griddle for each table to ensure proper cooking and hygiene
  • Ask for a recipe or sauce recommendations from the restaurant staff
  • Bring a group of people to share and try a variety of dishes
  • Be prepared to pay a bit more for the quality of meat and personalized experience, but it’s definitely worth it.

Bulgogi: A Korean Grilled Meat Dish

Bulgogi is a popular Korean dish that consists of thinly sliced beef or pork that is marinated in a sweet and savory sauce made with soy sauce, sugar, garlic, sesame oil, and other ingredients. The meat is then grilled over hot coals or on a tabletop barbecue, which is a style of cooking called “yakiniku” in Japanese.

What are the Different Cuts of Meat Used for Bulgogi?

The primary cuts of meat used for bulgogi are beef and pork. For beef, the most common cuts used are round, shoulder, or expensive cuts like ribeye or sirloin. For pork, the smaller bits of meat are used, such as pork belly or shoulder. The choice of meat depends on the preference of the diners and the availability of certain cuts.

How to Serve Bulgogi?

Bulgogi is usually served hot and sizzling on a plate, with a side of rice and vegetables. Some restaurants may also offer a variety of side dishes, called “banchan,” to accompany the bulgogi. To eat bulgogi, diners can either wrap the meat in lettuce or other greens, or simply eat it with rice and vegetables.

In conclusion, bulgogi is a unique and popular Korean dish that features thinly sliced meat marinated in a sweet and savory sauce and grilled to perfection. Its combination of flavors and textures make it a favorite among meat lovers, and its versatility allows diners to enjoy it in a variety of ways.

How to Serve and Eat Yakiniku

When it comes to yakiniku, the type of meat you choose is crucial to the overall taste and experience. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Beef is the most popular meat for yakiniku, but pork and chicken are also common choices.
  • Look for cuts that are marbled with fat, as this will add flavor and tenderness to the meat.
  • Some popular cuts for yakiniku include ribeye, sirloin, and skirt steak.
  • Offal, such as tongue and tripe, are also popular choices for those who enjoy more adventurous eating.

Ordering and Serving Yakiniku at Restaurants

If you’re new to yakiniku, here’s what you need to know about ordering and serving it at restaurants:

  • Yakiniku is typically served la carte, meaning you order individual pieces of meat and cook them yourself at the table.
  • Most restaurants offer a combination of meats and vegetables to choose from.
  • You can either order the meat unseasoned or coated in a marinade or seasoning.
  • When the meat is served, it’s usually sliced thin and in bite-sized pieces.
  • Vegetables such as onions, mushrooms, and peppers are also served alongside the meat.
  • Make sure to ask your server for utensils and any sauces or condiments you may need.

Grilling and Cooking Yakiniku

Now that you have your meat and vegetables, it’s time to start grilling and cooking. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Start by heating up the grill to a high heat.
  • Place the meat on the grill and cook for a short amount of time, typically no longer than a minute or two on each side.
  • Be careful not to overcook the meat, as it can become tough and chewy.
  • Some people prefer their meat slightly rare, while others like it well-done. It depends on your personal preference.
  • If you’re keeping an eye on your fat intake, make sure to trim off any excess fat before cooking.
  • When the meat is cooked to your liking, squeeze a little lemon juice on top for extra flavor.
  • Don’t forget to add any extra sauces or seasonings you may want.

Enjoying Yakiniku

Now that your meat is cooked and seasoned, it’s time to enjoy it! Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Yakiniku is typically eaten as a main course for dinner.
  • It’s best to eat the meat right off the grill, while it’s still hot and juicy.
  • Mix and match different cuts of meat and vegetables to find your ideal combination.
  • Depending on the restaurant, yakiniku can be expensive, so be sure to plan accordingly.
  • If you’re new to yakiniku, start with a shorter length of time on the grill and work your way up to longer cooking times as you get more comfortable.
  • Don’t be afraid to try new things, like offal or different types of seasoning.
  • And most importantly, have fun and enjoy the experience!

Serving and Eating Bulgogi: A Guide for Meat Lovers

– Bulgogi is typically made with thin slices of beef or pork, but some restaurants may offer seafood or chicken options as well.

  • The meat is usually marinated in a mixture of soy sauce, sugar, garlic, and sesame oil for a few hours to overnight.
  • Once the meat is marinated, it is cut into smaller pieces for easier grilling.

Additional Tips

– When eating bulgogi, it’s important to use the right utensils to protect your mouth from the hot grill.

  • Some restaurants may offer sets that include all the necessary utensils and dishes for a traditional Korean barbecue experience.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask the chefs or servers for recommendations or to mix and match different dishes.
  • Bulgogi can be a little expensive, but it’s a staple of Korean cuisine and definitely worth trying if you’re a fan of grilled meat.

The History of Yakiniku

Yakiniku is a Japanese style of grilling meat that is served in small pieces. The tradition of yakiniku originated in Japan during the Meiji era, which means “enlightened rule,” from 1868 to 1912. Yakiniku literally means “grilled meat,” and it is referred to as “Japanese BBQ.” Unlike bulgogi, yakiniku is not marinated, and the flavor simply depends on the cuts of meat and the sauce used.

Yakiniku vs. Korean BBQ

Yakiniku is often compared to Korean BBQ, which is also a style of grilling meat. However, there are some differences between the two:

  • Yakiniku is usually served with vegetables, while Korean BBQ is often served with rice.
  • Yakiniku is more expensive than Korean BBQ, as the cuts of meat are often of a higher quality.
  • Yakiniku is cooked on a dedicated grill or griddle, while Korean BBQ is often cooked on a mesh grill.
  • Yakiniku is a more social way of eating, as people cook their own meat at the table, while Korean BBQ is often cooked by the restaurant staff and brought to the table.

Yakiniku in Today’s Society

Yakiniku is still a popular way of eating in Japan, and it has also become popular in many other parts of the world. Many restaurants now offer yakiniku as a menu item, and there are even some restaurants that are dedicated solely to yakiniku. When ordering yakiniku, it is important to know what cuts of meat you want and what sauce you prefer. Some restaurants offer a set menu, while others allow you to choose the number of pieces of meat you want. It is also a good idea to ask the restaurant staff for their recommendations.

Why Yakiniku is Worth Trying

Yakiniku is definitely worth trying if you have the chance. The meat is cooked to perfection, and the flavor is out of this world. It is a great way to bring people together and enjoy a meal. Plus, it is a different way of eating meat than what most people are used to. Yakiniku is ideal for small groups or big parties, and it is a great way to mix and match different meats and vegetables. So next time you’re in the mood for BBQ, give yakiniku a try!

The Fascinating Origins of Bulgogi

Bulgogi is a popular Korean dish that has been enjoyed by people all over the world. It is a grilled meat dish that is marinated in a unique blend of ingredients, giving it a distinct flavor that is hard to resist. In this section, we will take a closer look at the history of bulgogi and how it came to be one of the most recognized Korean dishes.

Origins of Bulgogi

The origins of bulgogi can be traced back to the primordial times when people started cooking meat. Koreans are believed to have introduced the dish during the Three Kingdoms period, which lasted from 57 BC to 668 AD. It is believed that the dish was first introduced by the Eastern barbarians, who were nomadic and moved from Central Asia to Northeast Asia.

Technique and Ingredients

Bulgogi is a dish that consists of thin slices of beef that are marinated in a blend of soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, garlic, and other additional ingredients. The meat is then grilled or pan-fried, giving it a unique flavor that is both sweet and savory. The technique used to prepare bulgogi is similar to the traditional Chinese style of grilling, but with some unique elements that make it stand out.

Teppanyaki and Barbecue

Bulgogi is often compared to the Japanese dish of teppanyaki, which is also a grilled meat dish. However, there are some differences between the two. Teppanyaki is usually seasoned with salt and pepper, while bulgogi is marinated in a blend of ingredients. Bulgogi is also often served with a side of rice, while teppanyaki is served with vegetables. Bulgogi is also similar to barbecue, but the marinating process is essential to creating the unique flavor of the dish.

Popularity and Different Styles

Bulgogi has become a popular dish in Korean restaurants all over the world. There are different styles of bulgogi, including dak bulgogi (made with chicken), dwaeji bulgogi (made with pork), and yukhoe (made with raw beef). Bulgogi is also a popular dish to serve at family gatherings and group events.


Which Is Better?  Both yakiniku and bulgogi are delicious grilled meat dishes, but they have some distinct differences.  Yakiniku involves grilling bite-sized pieces of meat, usually beef, pork, or chicken, on a charcoal or gas grill, and it’s marinated with a sweet savory sauce.  Bulgogi involves grilling thinly sliced beef, marinated in a mixture of soy sauce, sugar, garlic, and sesame oil, and it’s usually served family-style on a large platter.  So, which is better?  It’s up to you to decide!

Also read: yakiniku vs Korean BBQ: how they differ

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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.