In Japan, steak is usually eaten as an occasional treat, and due to its popularity with the country’s young adults, affordable ways to enjoy it have popped up in the form of stand-up steak shops to accommodate this growing demand. A novel idea for many Westerners, no seats are provided in these tiny steak shops, and diners are instead provided with narrow wall counters placed at standing height. Often you choose how many grams of meat you would like to eat, and once served piping hot with a bowl of Japanese rice, you quickly devour with a sprinkle of soy sauce and a touch of wasabi.
Gyutan, or beef tongue, is another favorite among Japanese beef dishes. Sliced very thinly and charcoal-grilled, gyutan provides a unique texture unlike any other cut of meat. Often served as teishoku, or as a set meal menu that typically includes a savory tail soup along with multigrain rice and a refreshing assortment of tiny pickles known as tsukemono, this salaryman protein of choice is popular because it is considered one of the leanest cuts of meat. Different gyutan set meals often come with meats of varying thickness, however, so you can find the tenderness level best suited to your epicurean desires.
Gyukatsu means “beef cutlet” and is a relatively recent food boom to the more common Japanese pork cutlet called “tonkatsu.” In this version, a beef cutlet is coated in a breadcrumb batter and quickly fried so that the inside remains rare. You then cook the gyukatsu on a hot stone at your table to your own liking. This Japanese beef dish is eaten with various sauces and a side of rice often topped with grated yam.
Teppanyaki is a type of cooking which consists of frying meat, vegetables, and seafood on an iron plate. The name ‘teppanyaki’ comes from the characters in Japanese, a ‘tetsu pan’ is an iron/metal flat plate, and ‘yaki’ means to grill or bake something. This cooking style is mainly done at a table, on an built-in flat skillet that can be turned off and on as well. Meat, seafood, and vegetables are prepared on a large iron griddle (teppan) around which the diners are seated. The chef artfully prepares the dishes in front of his or her customers.
5. Wagyu Sushi
While not widely available, raw beef is considered a delicacy for much of Japan; and a popular way to enjoy this specialty is with a serving of rich wagyu sushi. Beautifully marbled beef is served on rice and dipped in soy sauce with a dash of wasabi. If you are looking to indulge in the freshest wagyu available, we suggest visiting Japan’s regional areas known for premium branded beef. There you will easily find food stalls serving wagyu sushi as takeout, so you can try a sampling while on the go.