Yakiniku vs. Shabu Shabu: A Taste Test of Two Popular Japanese Dishes

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Yakiniku and shabu shabu are two of the most popular Japanese dishes, but which one is better?

Yakiniku is a Korean-influenced Japanese dish that involves grilling bite-sized pieces of beef, pork, and/or chicken on a hot plate or griddle, often using a mixture of soy sauce and sugar as a marinade or dipping sauce. Shabu shabu is a hot pot dish where thinly sliced meat and vegetables are boiled in a broth made from dashi, a base made from seaweed and dried fish.

Let’s take a closer look at each dish and compare their differences, similarities, and cooking methods.

Yakiniku vs shabu shabu

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Yakiniku vs Shabu Shabu: A Comparison of Japanese Meat Dishes

Yakiniku and shabu shabu are both popular Japanese meat dishes, but they have different origins and cooking methods. Yakiniku, which means “grilled meat,” is a Japanese version of Korean barbecue. It involves grilling thinly sliced pieces of beef, pork, or other meats on a small electric griddle or charcoal grill. On the other hand, shabu shabu is a hot pot dish that involves cooking thinly sliced pieces of meat and vegetables in a pot of boiling water or seasoned broth.

Ingredients and Seasonings

Yakiniku and shabu shabu also differ in their ingredients and seasonings. Yakiniku typically features high-quality cuts of beef, while shabu shabu can be made with beef, pork, or even seafood. Yakiniku is usually seasoned with a sweet soy sauce or a mix of soy sauce, sake, and mirin, while shabu shabu is often served with ponzu sauce, sesame sauce, or a mix of soy sauce and grated daikon.

Serving and Eating Styles

When it comes to serving and eating, yakiniku and shabu shabu have their own unique styles. Yakiniku is typically served with a bowl of rice and diners grill the meat themselves at the table. Shabu shabu is served with a variety of vegetables and diners cook the meat and vegetables in the pot at the table.

Popularity and Availability

Both yakiniku and shabu shabu are popular dishes in Japan and around the world. Yakiniku restaurants are typically casual and offer a variety of meats and cuts, while shabu shabu is often served in more formal dining settings. Yakiniku is also offered in smaller, bite-sized pieces, while shabu shabu is typically served in larger pieces that diners can slice themselves.

Final Notes

While yakiniku and shabu shabu may seem similar at first glance, they are actually quite different in terms of their origins, cooking methods, ingredients, and serving styles. Both dishes are delicious and it’s difficult to resist their savory flavors and juicy meats. If you want to try both, go forth and connect with your local Japanese restaurant. You can read reviews on Facebook or official news to find the best place to satisfy your cravings.

Yakiniku: A Sizzling Meat Experience

Yakiniku, which translates to “grilled meat,” is a Japanese cuisine that involves cooking bite-sized pieces of meat on a hot griddle or charcoal grill. The term “yakiniku” was officially proclaimed in August 2013, but the dish has been enjoyed in Japan since the early 20th century.

Yakiniku Restaurants

In Japan, yakiniku restaurants are typically equipped with electric or charcoal grills built into the tables. The meat is served raw, and diners cook it to their liking. Some restaurants provide a light layer of oil on the grill, while others opt for a stick-resistant surface. Yakiniku restaurants also offer a variety of side dishes, such as kimchi, rice, and vegetables.

Yakiniku in Other Languages

Yakiniku has become popular outside of Japan, and many countries have their own take on the dish. In Korea, it is known as “bulgogi,” while in Taiwan, it is called “shao kao.” In the United States, yakiniku is often served in Korean barbecue restaurants. Regardless of the name, the experience of taking a bite of a perfectly cooked morsel of meat slathered in sauce is a universal pleasure.

Shabu Shabu: A Hot Pot of Delight

Shabu Shabu is a popular Japanese hot pot dish that is typically served during the colder months. The name “Shabu Shabu” comes from the sound the ingredients make when they are swirled around in the pot. It is commonly compared to sukiyaki, another Japanese hot pot dish, but the main difference is that shabu shabu uses thinly sliced meat and vegetables that are cooked in a boiling pot of seasoned broth instead of being simmered in a mixture of soy sauce, sugar, and mirin on a gridiron.

How is Shabu Shabu Prepared?

To prepare shabu shabu, a pot of boiling dashi broth is placed in the center of the table, along with a plate of thinly sliced meat (usually beef, but pork and other meats can also be used), vegetables (such as napa cabbage, mushrooms, and scallions), and sometimes rice. Each diner is provided with chopsticks and a small bowl of sauce (called tare) that is typically made from soy sauce, sesame oil, and other seasonings.

To eat shabu shabu, diners take a slice of meat with their chopsticks and lightly swirl it in the boiling broth until it is cooked to their liking. They then dip the meat in the sauce and eat it. Vegetables are also added to the pot and cooked in the same way. The broth becomes more flavorful as the ingredients are added and cooked, and diners can also add extra seasonings to the pot, such as garlic or chili oil.

Where Can You Try Shabu Shabu?

Shabu shabu is a popular dish in Japan and is also commonly found in Korean cuisine. It has become increasingly popular in the United States in recent years, with many restaurants offering it on their menus. Some popular shabu shabu restaurants include:

  • Shilawon in Los Angeles, California
  • 牛屋 (Gyūya) in Toyama, Japan
  • 牛屋 (Gyūya) while opening doors to its first eatery in Oahu, Hawaii
  • Head to the restaurant’s website or social media pages (such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, WhatsApp, Reddit, Tumblr, or Pocket) to view the menu and customer reviews.

What Are Some Shabu Shabu Options?

Shabu shabu can be customized to suit individual tastes and preferences. Some options include:

  • Meat: Beef is the most commonly used meat in shabu shabu, but pork, chicken, and seafood can also be used.
  • Vegetables: Napa cabbage, mushrooms, scallions, and carrots are commonly used, but other vegetables can also be added.
  • Broth: Dashi broth is the most commonly used broth, but other options include sukiyaki broth or a Korean-style spicy broth.
  • Sauce: Tare is the most commonly used sauce, but sesame sauce or ponzu sauce can also be offered.
  • Extras: Some restaurants may offer extra toppings, such as an egg to crack into the pot or rice to add to the broth.

Shabu shabu is a fun and interactive dining experience that is perfect for sharing with friends and family. Give it a try and see why it has become such a popular dish around the world!

The History of Yakiniku

Yakiniku, which translates to “grilled meat,” is a Japanese dish that originated in the early 20th century. It was heavily influenced by Korean cuisine, particularly Korean barbecue.

The Official Proclamation of Yakiniku

In August 1940, the Japan Yakiniku Association was established, proclaiming yakiniku as an official form of Japanese cuisine.

The Cooking Process

Yakiniku is typically cooked on a hot griddle or smaller charcoal grill at the center of the table, allowing diners to cook their own pieces of meat to their desired level of doneness.

The Ingredients

Yakiniku is typically made with beef, but can also include pork, chicken, and seafood. The meat is often thinly sliced and served with a variety of dipping sauces, such as a citrusy ponzu or a salty sesame sauce.

The Seasoning

Before cooking, the meat is often lightly seasoned with garlic or other seasonings. Some people opt to slather a light layer of oil on the surface of the grill to prevent sticking and add flavor.

The Consumption

Once cooked, diners use tongs to take a bite-sized morsel of meat and dip it into the sauce before consuming. Yakiniku is typically enjoyed with white rice and a variety of side dishes.

Overall, yakiniku is a delicious and interactive dining experience that has become popular not only in Japan but also in other countries.

The History of Shabu Shabu

Shabu shabu is a Japanese hot pot dish that originated in the 20th century. The word “shabu shabu” is an onomatopoeic term that refers to the sound of thinly sliced meat being swished around in a pot of hot broth. The dish was inspired by Chinese hot pot and Korean barbecue, but it has developed into a unique style of Japanese cuisine.

The Serving Style

Shabu shabu is usually served with a dipping sauce made from soy sauce, vinegar, and chopped scallions. Diners can also add other ingredients to the sauce, such as grated daikon radish or a raw egg. The dish is typically served with a bowl of steamed white rice and a bowl of simmered vegetables.

The Popularity of Shabu Shabu

Shabu shabu has become a staple dish in Japanese cuisine and is enjoyed by both meat-eaters and vegetarians. It is also a popular dish in Western countries, where it is often referred to simply as “hot pot.” Shabu shabu restaurants have become increasingly popular, with many offering a wide variety of ingredients and dipping sauces. Reviews and news about shabu shabu can be found on social media platforms like Facebook, where diners can connect with other fans of the dish.

Shabu Shabu Restrictions

While shabu shabu is a relatively simple dish to prepare, there are a couple of restrictions to keep in mind. First, it is important not to overcook the meat, as this can cause it to become tough and chewy. Second, it is important to remove the meat from the pot as soon as it is cooked, as leaving it in the hot broth for too long can cause it to overcook. Finally, it is important to make sure that all of the ingredients are fully prepared before consumption, as some vegetables may not be safe to eat raw.

In conclusion, shabu shabu is a delicious and complex dish that is enjoyed by many around the world. Whether you are a meat-eater or a vegetarian, it is definitely worth a try!

How to Enjoy Yakiniku: A Guide to Grilled Meat Heaven

Yakiniku is a Japanese-style barbecue that involves grilling thin slices of meat, typically beef and pork, on a tabletop griddle. The meat is usually served raw and sliced into small pieces, allowing diners to cook it to their preferred level of doneness. Here are some key points to keep in mind when it comes to yakiniku:

  • Yakiniku meat cuts: Yakiniku restaurants usually offer a wide variety of meat cuts, ranging from the more common short rib and sirloin to the more exotic tongue and tripe. Look for cuts that are firm and have a good amount of fat marbling for the best flavor and texture.
  • Yakiniku cooking style: Yakiniku is all about grilling meat to perfection. Start by placing the meat on the griddle and letting it cook for a few seconds on each side. Then, use tongs to stir the meat around and cook it evenly. Once the meat is cooked to your liking, dip it in sauce and enjoy!

Choosing the Right Sauce and Ingredients

Yakiniku is all about the sauce! Here are some popular options to try:

  • Tare sauce: This sweet and savory sauce is made with soy sauce, sugar, mirin, and sake. It’s perfect for dipping grilled meat and vegetables.
  • Ponzu sauce: This tangy sauce is made with citrus juice, soy sauce, and vinegar. It’s great for adding a refreshing kick to grilled meat and seafood.
  • Miso sauce: This rich and savory sauce is made with miso paste, sake, and sugar. It’s perfect for marinating meat before grilling.

In addition to the sauce, yakiniku is typically served with a variety of vegetables, such as onions, mushrooms, and bell peppers. Some restaurants also offer marinated meat, which adds an extra layer of flavor to the dish.

Maximizing Your Yakiniku Experience

Here are some tips to make the most of your yakiniku experience:

  • Start with the lighter cuts: If you’re new to yakiniku, start with the thinner, lighter cuts of meat, such as tongue or thinly sliced beef. These will cook quickly and are less likely to be fatty or tough.
  • Save the fatty cuts for later: As you get more comfortable with yakiniku, try the fattier cuts, such as short rib or upper shoulder. These cuts are extremely rich and flavorful but can be overwhelming if eaten in large quantities.
  • Ask your butcher for recommendations: If you’re buying yakiniku meat from a supermarket or butcher, don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations on the best cuts for grilling.
  • Try different sauces: Yakiniku is all about experimentation, so don’t be afraid to try different sauces and ingredients to find your perfect combination.
  • Don’t forget the sides: Yakiniku is typically served with plenty of sides, such as rice, kimchi, and spicy pickled vegetables. These can help balance out the richness of the meat and add some variety to your meal.

In conclusion, yakiniku is a popular Japanese dish that is all about grilling high-quality meat to perfection. With the right cuts, sauce, and cooking technique, you can enjoy a delicious and satisfying meal that is sure to please any meat lover.

How to Serve and Eat Shabu Shabu

– To cook shabu shabu, you’ll need a special pot called a shabu shabu pot. This pot is typically wide and shallow with a low set rim.

  • Fill the pot with a richly flavored broth made from dashi stock, kombu, and other ingredients. You can also opt to include udon noodles for a heartier meal.
  • Set the pot over a low flame and bring the broth to a boil. Then, reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the pot to allow the flavors to meld.

Tips for Perfect Shabu Shabu

– To ensure that the meat and vegetables cook evenly, it’s a good idea to arrange them in separate piles around the edge of the pot.

  • Be sure to remove the ingredients from the pot as soon as they are fully cooked to avoid overcooking.
  • If you want to try a variety of different types of meat and vegetables, consider ordering a shabu shabu set that includes a wide range of ingredients.
  • A handy tip for carrying food from the pot to your bowl is to use a small strainer or ladle to scoop out the ingredients. This will help to avoid splashing hot broth on yourself or others.


Which is better?  Both yakiniku and shabu shabu are delicious Japanese dishes that are perfect for sharing with friends and family. Yakiniku involves grilling meat on a grill, while shabu shabu involves cooking meat in a pot of boiling water and broth. So, which is better? It’s up to you to decide!

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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.