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


Korean BBQ vs. Japanese BBQ vs. Russian BBQ

What’s the difference between Korean, Japanese (and Russian, if you ever tasted it) BBQ?

– Jolita Karpovičiūtė

Dear Jolita, Thank you very much for your wonderful question.

shashlikFirst let me apologise to you, my only experience of Russian BBQ is Shashlik.

While preparing <Terra Formars Asimov>, I thought that I should understand and love Russian culture because the story was based in Russia.

So it was a very pleasant experience for me to have tried Russian food.

I tried shashlik from a famous Russian restaurant in Tokyo and of course it was delicious.

But as I said, that’s my only experience with Russian BBQ. Sorry.

If you have a great Russian BBQ you’d like to recommend, please tell me. I’d love to know and try it next time.

As for the difference between Korean and Japanese BBQ… Well, first let me tell you what are Korean and Japanese BBQ are.

The definition of BBQ is roasted meat, so the typical BBQ in Japan will be “Yakiniku”. And it’s a BBQ dish originally created by Korean immigrant in Japan.

Tsuruhashi market

This place is Tsuruhashi market in Osaka.

Historians say that Korean immigrants and workers that lived in Tsuruhashi in Osaka from the 1940s to 1950s started selling Yakiniku. They cooked and grilled cow’s guts that Japanese usually wouldn’t eat back then.

I think that was when started the modern Japanese BBQ.

Even Today, you can find many Yakiniku and Korean restaurants in Tsuruhashi market along with many high quality Korean food and groceries.

This place showed us that people have a stern spirit and an enthusiasm for life.

When Yakaniku emerged, Koreans started by grilling cheap meat but as time passed it kept getting better and repeatedly evolved.

"Garubi" and "Rosue" from Wagyu beef

This is “Garubi” and “Rosue” from Wagyu beef in Jojoen in Ginza street, I introduced it in a previous Food Adventure column.

“Garubi” means ribs, which is like “Galbi” in Korea.

“Rosue” means sirloin. Jojoen is Kanto’s finest yakiniku chain restaurant which provide great beefs available in Japan.

I would like to talk about these more in depth one of these day.

Wagyu beef

Wagyu beef

This Wagyu beef has a very beautiful marbling. What’s more, it has a delicate and soft meat with quality and pinkish fat.

It shows high quality of fat and meat as they mix together in mouth. Very juicy and delicious. That is Wagyu.

JojoenThis is Jojoen’s special lunch menu.

They served salad with Korean style dressing (salt with sesame oil) and Koreans side dishes called Namuru, kimchi and seaweed stew with rice.

The relationship between beef and rice is just a perfect wedding (harmony).

Wagyu beef is very delicate and tender.

It’s not strong nor though and there is no gamey smell at all coming from the meat.

Personally I’d recommend to eat Wagyu beef with rice. You’ll fell ecstatic when putting it in your mouth.

We eat Yakiniku for the new year party with my studio.

We ate Wagyu chateaubriand and… I can’t remember what else I had with it…

For me, chateaubriand is very rare to come across but this place served a piece of Wagyu chateaubriand to everyone.

I delicately grilled the piece of meat and tasted it very carefully.

Wagyu beef is to be enjoyed as much as possible on the moment itself. Because once the meal is over, the bill will make you cry. So take your time and enjoy.

Now it’s time talk about Korean style BBQ.

There are two representative BBQ called “Galbi” and “Bulgogi” in Korea.

Especially “Galbi” which is my personal favorite.

“Galbi” means ribs and it come from the old Korean word “Gasi”. The etymology of Galbi was introduced in my work <I want to feed Yumin>.

Some Koreans believe that Bulgogi has a long history but it was born in Suwon in the 1950s. Suwon is still famous with Galbi.

Similar to the Japanese’s yakiniku which was born in Tsuruhashi market in Osaka, Galbi was born in beef market in Suwon in Korea.

They’re both popular meat dish in their respective countries and both were born in markets in the 1950s (some say it’s as early as 1940s).

BonSuwon Galbi

BonSuwon Galbi

This is “BonSuwon Galbi” which I introduced in <I want to feed Yumin>.

It shows the characteristics of Korean style BBQ, characterized by it’s richness rather than delicacy.

They used a lot of spices and sauce for the meat, they especially put a lot of garlic as well as adding some sesame oil.

Meat seasoning is very characteristic of Korean BBQ’s gastronomy.

In modern times, there are many BBQ dishes that doesn’t season meat but basically “Galbi” is seasoned with a special sauce.

Traditionally, Korean cows were used for farming (in the past) so their meat was very tough to eat.

The seasoning helped to tenderizes this tough meat.


This is the way Korean are grilling ribs meat.

Best way to eat Korean style Galbi is to grill every ribs on the grill and then eat it all.


Garlics were already included in BBQ seasoning sauce but Koreans love to eat baked garlics on grill with meat.

This is a photo I took in Korea when I invited two guests from Japan.


One is the editor in chef for Young King magazine while the other guy is the president of “A-un” magazine, the adult manga magazine in which I made my debut in Japan.

This picture shows the difference between Japanese and Korean BBQ.

There are so many vegetables as side dishes. And it’s free!!! Booya!!! You can even order some more for free!!!

Eating as much as possible and eating meat with lots of vegetables are special characteristics of Korean BBQ.

Vegetables help you to easily chew tough meat.

And now I’d like to show you what there is in common between Korean and Japanese BBQ.

BBQThis is Hokkaido’s BBQ dish called “Jingisukan”.

It is a grilled mutton dish, a very famous food in Hokkaido.

This Jinkisukan restaurant is where I went when I was in Hokkaido to take pictures of the wind power plant for <HE> BGs.

This restaurant served a very delicious and affordable Jinkiskan at Sapporo city in Hokkaido island.

I would like to introduce this restaurant and dish called Jinkiskan next time.


It is very, very delicious.

Anyway, you can see the metal skillet and grill in the picture.

Can you see the common point between Japanese and Korean BBQ?

The grill is almost similar Korean BBQ grill.

And This is Bulgogi made in a famous “cold noodle (Naengmyeon)” restaurant in Korea.

Bulgogi BBQ


This is Bulgogi made with Korean beef called “Hanwoo (Korean cow)”.

This place is one of the oldest restaurant in Seoul, and Bulgogi in here is very characteristics.

Can you notice their BBQ grill? It’s very similar to the Japanese’s Jinkisukan grill.

I believed that because Bulgogi is a Korean BBQ dish, and Yakiniku was invented by Koreans in Japan, that this BBQ metal grill was also created by Korean…

But one of Korea’s famous food columnist named “Kyo-Ik Hwang” said “The metal grill used in Korean and Japanese BBQ originally comes from Jinkisukan’s grill from Hokkaido cuisine during the period of Japan’s rule over Korea (1910~1945). And the name “Yakiniku” doesn’t come from “Bulgogi” in Korean. Originally the name and meaning of “Bulgogi” came from Japanese “Yakiniku” after the Korean war.”

Yakiniku (Japanese) means Yaki=grilled and Niku=meat. And Bulgogi (Korean) means Bul=grilled(or fire) and gogi=meat.

They both have the same name and meaning. Just different pronunciations.

We don’t know which one came first, Korea or Japan, but Yakiniku and Bulgogi (and Galbi) both originate from similar times and influenced each others.

Korean and Japanese history are divided on the subject of Yakiniku and Bulgogi.

I’d love to continue writing some more but it’s time to go back to work.

My unfinished works are waiting for me so I’d like to continue some more on this subject next week.

Nobody wants to miss my manga, right? ^^

Hope you understand. See you in Part 2.

– Boichi

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