I realised that I have not recommended Yakiniku in my blogs, even though I go to one quite often. A recent one I went to in Kyoto was of quite good quality at a reasonable price.
Origin of Yakiniku
Yakiniku (焼き肉 or 焼肉), meaning “grilled meat”, is a Japanese term that, in its broadest sense, refers to grilled meat cuisine. “Yakiniku” originally referred to western “barbecue” food, the term being popularized by Japanese writer Kanagaki Robun (仮名垣魯文) in his Seiyo Ryoritsu (i.e. “western food handbook”) in 1872 (Meiji period). The term later became associated with Korean-derived cuisine during the early Showa period.
Today, “yakiniku” commonly refers to a Japanese style of cooking bite-size meat (usually beef and offal) and vegetables on gridirons or griddles over a flame of wood charcoals carbonized by dry distillation (sumibi, 炭火) or a gas/electric grill. In many parts of the world, yakiniku is also commonly referred to as “Japanese barbecue”. The origin of contemporary yakiniku has become a subject of debate, though it is conventionally considered to have been inspired by similar Korean cuisine.
The present style of yakiniku restaurants are derived from Korean restaurants in Osaka and Tokyo, which opened around 1945. In a yakiniku restaurant, diners order prepared raw ingredients (individually or as a set) which are brought to the table. The ingredients are cooked by the diners on a grill built into the table, several pieces at a time. The ingredients are then dipped in sauces known as tare before being eaten. The most common sauce is made of Japanese soy sauce mixed with sake, mirin, sugar, garlic, fruit juice and sesame. Garlic-and-shallot or miso-based dips are sometimes used. Korean side dishes like kimchi, nameul, bibimbap are served alongside.
The Supper Set
Hiro offered several sets, and I would recommend that as the way to order. A la carte order was often too much for two persons, and you wouldn’t get variety.
手作りキムチ Homemade Kimchi – Three types of kimchi – Cabbage, radish and a light vinegar cucumber salad. Didn’t taste homemade, more like factory made as it was cut to the perfect size and had an almost canned taste.
弘特製サラダ Hiro Special Salad – The fresh Japanese salad of okra, lettuce, onions, corn, cucumber was accompanied with a tangy, sweet tomato-based dressing. I found it too sweet for my liking so I just dripped it sparingly. Literally translated as a soup salad, it was supposed to be liberally drenched in the gazpacho like sauce.
和牛ホルモン煮込み Wagyu Beef Offal Stew – Consisted of tripes, intestines, liver and other offals, it was delicious. Because it’s Wagyu, the fat rendered into the stew and gave it a naturally stickiness to the sauce. Would be wonderful if there’s a bowl of rice to go with this rich stew.
今宵限りの盛り合わせ Daily Assortment of Yakiniku Beef – Everyday, Hiro processed their beef centrally to offer a great selection of different cuts for yakiniku. For every selection, you were presented the certificate telling you the bred of the beef, and who was the butcher that processed the beef. Tonight, we were having Wagyu of Hokkaido.
The selection included Beef Tongue, Sirloin Cubes, Ribeye, Beef Intestines, etc, a good selection across the different texture and marbling.
Grilling a piece of sirloin was quite a challenge as the fats rendered and dripped on the charcoals, causing little flares. And it was quite an interactive meal as a minute too long, you spoiled the tenderness and juiciness of the wagyu, a minute too short, you are still stuck with a rare piece of meat.
This yakiniku was my favourite – a beautiful piece of Waygu wrapped with a silly amount of spring onions and eaten with Hiro’s special sauce. The fats of the wagyu flavoured the spring onions, while grilling soften the greens slightly.
石焼きビビンバ Stone-Grilled Bibimbap – The quintessential Korean dish of pickles, vegetables, beef on rice. Put in the hot chilli sauce and mix away. The hot stone grill slightly burnt the rice which provided some crisps.
冷麺 Cold Noodles – this was a very chewy noodle in a savoury cold broth. You can add some tang using the rice vinegar, but you can just slurped it up on its own. Be warned, it’s chewy. Use the scissors provided to cut it down if you have weak teeth.
ゆずシャーベット Yuzu Sorbert – a great and sweet ending to the evening of really greasy meat.
A Youthful Place
The restaurant is part of a chain and is located within 5 min walk of Kyoto JR station. Use the Kyoto Tower as a the place marker.
The ambiance was youthful and noisy, not for your romantic date. No Yakiniku is, they are smoky, noisy, and everyone is joyous and relaxed.
The service staff was attentive, but not intrusive. You could not notice them, but they appeared at the slightly call using the little wireless buzzer on the table. Like all the places in Japan, do not expect them to speak fantastic English, but the restaurant do offer an English menu and nice pictures to explain what you are ordering.
Cost around USD 50~80 per persons for very high quality beef.
京の焼肉処 弘 京都駅前店
Shimogyo-ku Kyoto Kyoto
京都府 京都市下京区 東洞院通七条下ル塩小路町510-1
Tel : 075-343-4129 (+81-75-343-4129)
Date Visited : Jul 2017