While there are many iconic and famous Japanese dishes, two which are often overlooked in favor of their sushi and tempura counterparts are yakiniku and sukiyaki.
In recent times, yakiniku has seen a resurgence in popularity outside of Japan as yakiniku chain restaurants have expanded their reach, while sukiyaki tends to be enjoyed more at home.
Yakiniku, at the most simple level, is grilled meat although vegetables are also used. Most any meat is acceptable to be grilled, and most selections are often available in shio (salt) or a tare (sauce) preparation. The tare sauces can be either sweet or spicy, and restaurants have their own recipes to compliment their meat.
At many yakiniku restaurants, they will either bring out a small grill called a shichirin, which holds charcoal (usually binchotan charcoal for its high heat and low smoke) or you'll be seated at a table with a built in grill.
Sukiyaki, on the other hand, is actually a hot pot style dish. Traditionally made with thinly sliced beef, tofu, and vegetables, ingredients are cooked in a pot or nabe, and uses a soup made with mirin, soy sauce, sugar, and sake.
One defining characteristic of sukiyaki is an egg dip. A raw egg is whisked in a bowl, and each hot ingredient pulled from the pot is dipped into the egg before being eaten. This adds a richness to the dish that compliments the relatively simple broth.
About the author:
Michael is originally from Chicago, IL in the United States, but has lived in Japan for seven years in Niigata and Hokkaido. He is an avid home chef, baker, and coffee enthusiast, but his one true love is ramen. Ever in pursuit of the perfect bowl of noodles, you can always find him by listening for the tell-tale slurp of ramen being enjoyed!