Ask Boichi about Food 2 – Korean BBQ vs. Japanese BBQ. Round 2


Korean BBQ vs. Japanese BBQ. Round 2

Let’s continue our focus on Korean and Japanese BBQ.

Last week’s answer about BBQ was mainly about beef but I can’t finish without talking about pork BBQ.

It’s hard to find good pork BBQ in Japan. However, pork BBQ has been very popular in Korea since the 90’s.

Tulbo’s family barbecue

Tulbo’s family barbecue

This is a famous pork BBQ restaurant in Korea called “Tulbo’s family barbecue”.

There, they grill the pork with salt and into a skewer over their camping firewood.

Once the grilled meat is finished, they serve it to the costumer’s table and then they can grill it again on their own table grill.

This photo was taken when I had dinner there with my assistants in Korea.

You can see in this picture how characteristics it is of Korean BBQ.

There wasn’t much side dishes variety because this restaurant’s concept is to eat meat abundantly for cheap.

Nevertheless, they somehow try to make the table’s side dishes seems richer and plentiful. Kimchi, salad, and vegetables with basic side dishes, especially the many raw vegetables.

Eating meat with vegetables is an aspect of Korean style BBQ. These vegetables are all ingredients that make up “Ssam” (Wrapping the meat with some vegetables such as lettuce and Perilla leaves…).

First you make your lettuce wraps and dip them in Ssamjang sauce (basically made with Korean hot chilli miso sauce) with the meat. Then you roll it together and eat it whole. You can put some rice in it as well if you like but it’s totally up to you.

I think the reason why Korean eat a lot of vegetables with BBQ is because they want to eat as much meat as possible.

Fully and as much as possible is the concept of Korean BBQ.

And we can also look at the nutritional value. Eating meat with lots of vegetables will surely bring good nutritional balance. Especially if we need to take care of our beer belly… I mean health… we should eat many vegetables for our health.

Another reason Koreans eat meat together with vegetables is because Korean BBQ’s meat is far from being tender.

Generally, those with stronger jaws are able to eat hard and tough food and still enjoy those. But not all Korean enjoy eating that tough meat everyday.

In the past, the soft and tender parts such as sirloin and relief were exported overseas. So it was very difficult to obtain those parts, the ribs were the best BBQ meat dish for Koreans back then.

It’s for the same reason that Samgyeopsal (pork belly) is the most loved BBQ dish for Korean, they’re the remaining parts once the relief, sirloin, ham and etc parts are sold overseas.

We eat these parts with vegetables to help us eat the tough and fatty meat more easily.

These parts are tougher than sirloin but the flavor is abundant and richer than the ones from soft meats. Even when wrapped with veggies we can still fell their strong aroma.

pork BBQ restaurant

This photo was taken in Korean, it’s the pork BBQ restaurant near Hong Dea university street.

It was years ago. Team Moon’s manager, Mr. Cheon (the person in the picture) invited me there for dinner.

Team Moon is a Korean creative manhwa studio known for “Devilman vs Hades” published in the Monthly Young Magazine in Japan.



This is Samgyeopsal.

I remember that Samgyeopsal have been popular in Korea since 1990.

Since the cheap ribs were expensive due to their high popularity, Koreans had to turn to other grilled meat and so they found the pork belly.

Isn’t there a similarly cheap but delicious meat dish in Japan? Of course there is!! It is Horumonyaki!!!



Tsuruhashi market in Osaka city, the birth place of “Yakiniku” has many yakiniku restaurants serving grilled cow’s guts.

In this picture you can see all kind of beef guts such as oesophagus, heart, and diaphragm. All very delicious!!

You can enjoy very unique tastes and textures from horumonyaki.

We can also enjoy various horumonyaki in Tokyo but it seems to be more expensive than back in Osaka.

Generally speaking every yakiniku restaurants serve all kinds of beef guts. They even cook the cow’s uterus once its cut in small pieces.

But these are beef part. Not pork.

I heard there is a popular BBQ trend in Korea now. It is Cumin Lamb Skewers (Yang Rou Chuan). It’s a grilled dish of small pieces of lamb meat on skewers.

Unfortunately I haven’t tried it yet! But in Korea it now became a very famous BBQ style that everyone enjoy!!

Jinkisukan is very famous lamb BBQ dish. But if you want to see other BBQ styles from beef and pork there are other special dishes that have a great and long history in Japan.

Before I finish this post, I’d like to recommend you two wonderful Japanese style BBQ.

The first one is “Yakitori”. You may have heard or seen it in Japanese manga or movies if you love Japanese culture.

It started as a street food. Yakitori consist of chicken meat cut in small part, stuck on a small bamboo skewer and grilled over a charcoal fire.

Most Japanese enjoy Yakitori to go with sake, not for meals even if they still do from time to time


This photo shows a yakitori master who’s a very famous chef in Tokyo. The restaurant called “Ranjatai” received a Michelin star as specialist of yakitori.

The chef cooking yakitori is the top chef of Ranjatai and is a representative yakitori chef in Japan.

He’s an amazing cook. He developed yakitori as full course meal and sublimated yakitori, which was only street food, into an art. Amazing!

I believe Yakitori is one of the typical BBQ in Japan.

Here, they only use 180 days old chicken called “Hinai-dori”, a famous breed of chicken in Japan. They are very rare and expensive chicken.

Their yakitori is grilled on Binchōtan (white charcoal) fire.

They serve very good and various parts of good quality chicken to their costumers, only seasoned with salt and sake, and grilled to perfection by the top chef. They can then enjoy the aromatic smells and juicy tastes of yakitori.


I believe this is chicken butt.


And this is chicken liver and it is so delicious.

The second is fish BBQ, and even though it’s fish, this is a very amazing BBQ. It’s called Unagi (eel).

Japan is truly a paradise of fish dishes but Unagi is very special among them.


This photo shows grilled Unagi from “Hitsumahushi” in Ginza, Tokyo. “Hitsumabushi” is also a famous unagi dish in Nagoya city.

The thing that looks like lava from hell at the right of the picture is actually unagi sauce.

Grill the eel, dip it in the sauce and repeat the process again and again. This is how they caramelize soy-based sauce on unagi.

There is a story that a famous unagi restaurant had kept its unagi sauce buried into the ground to protect it from the bomb attack during the second World War. Unagi saucse is priceless and special for every unagi restaurants.

Historians said that Unagi dishes started during the “Edo priod”.

Nowadays, Japanese eat on average five eel per person yearly which means that 80% of the eel market is dominated by Japanese. Indeed, Japanese love Unagi very much.



This is Unagi-don (Grilled eel on rice) from Chikuyotei in Ginza. Chikutyotei is a famous and historical Japanese restaurant.

You can eat the eel by itself but my recommendation is to order unadon (Eel on rice). Eating eel with rice is the best way.

We gave a broad look at most of Koreans and Japanese BBQ.

Both Japanese and Korean BBQ were created by Koreans. They were born from the efforts to make cheaper meat delicious and each as it’s specificities.

In Korea, the meat itself is changing. First was Galbi (beef ribs), after came Samgyeopsal (pork belly), and now fried chicken and lamb while Japanese tries to find many luxurious beef parts even from cheap parts such as guts.

Japanese BBQ is a culinary delicacy from various parts.
Korean BBQ is to enjoy a plentiful and rich meal.

Japanese love to eat soft meat with rice.
Korean love to eat meat with many vegetables and enjoy the meat flavors.

Of course, these trends are still changing right now.

As you can see with yakitori, Japanese enjoy various parts.

Japanese eat eels alone but eating them with rice is the best way to enjoy it when summer make people hotter. It gives them refreshment and strength.

Yakitori is popular in Japan while Samgyeopsal is popular in Korea and today the trend is turning toward Cumin Lamb Skewers.

In Hokkaido, Northen Japanese dish, Jinkisukan is very popular and seem to have influenced Korean Bulgogi.

I love both Korean and Japanese BBQ styles! They are all great and amazing dishes!

I’d like to recommend that if you try Japanese BBQ dishes to eat them the Japanese way.
And if you try Korean BBQ, try them the Korean way!
They are both fun to enjoy.

I’m a very lucky person to be able to enjoy both of them from these two countries.
But my schedule is killing me now, so it’s very hard to visit Korea for BBQ (sob).

– Boichi

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