Yakiniku (Japanese grilled meat) is perhaps the least-sounding vegan food in the world. However, a plant-based, “fake meat” option is at all Yakiniku Like restaurants, a popular do-it-yourself yakiniku chain restaurant in Tokyo, Osaka, and all throughout Japan.
This 100% vegetarian and vegan-friendly yakiniku here is made from soybean proteins and other plant-based ingredients by an alternative meat-producing startup in Japan, Next Meats. With a similar mission to Impossible Foods, Next Meats is environmentally driven to increase vegan-friendly options.
Yakiniku Like is known for its reasonable prices and catering to solo diners. 50 grams of soy meat (Next Kalbi) is around 300 yen.
The vegan-friendly yakiniku can be found under the campaign menu as “fake meat.” Please note that currently, most restaurants may be only serving one variety of the fake meat instead of the two shown in the photo above.
You have the option to eat at partitioned counter spaces with individual grills, so there will be no cross-contamination with meat. The staff will provide you with your order, which will come in the serving trays as shown above (on the left is the, likely no longer offered, “Next Halami,” on the right is “Next Kalbi”).
You can order as many portions of the soy meat as you want (you’ll want to order at least two), along with any sides (rice, salad, and edamame are recommended).
Cooking Vegan Yakiniku Barbecue in Japan
Then you can light your grill and start cooking! The soy meat comes in small pieces, and will cook very quickly. Keep an eye on it and use the tongs to flip it over often as you see fit.
Once the “meat” is a bit browned after a few minutes, dip it into a sauce (soy sauce combined with lemon, and/or garlic is advised; some sauces may not be vegan) and enjoy!
Ordered with a side of rice, you can make a delicious rice bowl, too!
Soy meat is fairly common in Japan, but the vegan yakiniku made by Next Meats is definitely on the tastier side! It lacks a strong soybean taste and has a “meatier” flavor and texture than that of other plant-based proteins here. It feels like it contains some oil, too, making it juicier and satisfying.
If you’re dining out with a group of non-vegans or are just curious, take a trip to Yakiniku Like to try this unique plant-based treat.
Yakiniku Like restaurants (Japanese): https://yakiniku-like.com/shop.html
Next Meats (Japanese): https://nextmeats.co.jp/en