Shabu Shabu vs. Yakiniku - which is for you?

When people think Japanese food, their minds might immediately go straight to sushi - but fear not if you like your food cooked! There are plenty of options for you, too!
 
Two different varieties of cooked meat dishes here are shabu-shabu and yakiniku - both delicious but with some distinctive differences!
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Shabu Shabu 

You'll find that shabu shabu consists of thinly sliced meat and veggies, that are cooked by boiling them in broth (popular broths include spicy kimchi based ones, meat broths, and simple kombu in water broth).

If you're wanting to try shabu shabu whilst you're in Japan, our favorite restaurant serving it is called Nabe-Zo. There are a bunch of locations around Tokyo itself and the surrounding suburbs.

You'll usually get a couple of dipping sauces to dip your meat and veggies into - most commonly they seem to have ponzu and goma. Ponzu is a zingy citrus based sauce that is thin in consistency. Goma is a sesame sauce and is creamier and thicker. You can actually find both of these sauces on Amazon if you're living outside Japan - convenient!
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Yakiniku 


In contrast to shabu shabu, Yakiniku is where you cook your meat and vegetables on a grill, as opposed to boiling it.
 
One thing I will advise is that you do need to be wary of what's called horumon on some yakiniku menus. Horumon basically refers to all the "discarded bits" of an animal, like livers, hearts, intestines and so forth. That's a little too confronting for me, so I make sure to avoid that! If you don't mind it, or you're a more adventurous eater than I am, go for it!
 
There tend to be a wider variety of dips at yakiniku places, you often still find ponzu and goma, but I've also seen chili paste, wasabi, and dry dips like flavored salts served up at yakiniku establishments. These extra dips probably have something to do with the fact that with Shabu Shabu, you're cooking the meat in a broth - so it's getting additional taste in the cooking process. In contrast with yakiniku, you're grilling the meat and veggies and then adding the flavor after the cooking process.
 
Wanting to try Yakiniku? We enjoy Karubi, but there are plenty of establishments that have Yakiniku grills for you to try.


If you don't have either of these types of restaurants where you're living, you can actually order the nabe pot for shabu shabu, or a yakiniku grill on Amazon!
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Have you already tried shabu shabu or yakiniku? Or maybe you've already tried both! Do you have a preference (or perhaps think you'd have a preference, if you haven't tried either one before?)


this is japan