Food

The Best Yakiniku Restaurants in Manila

Where to get your fix of Japanese grilled meat
IMAGE MIYAZAKI GYU
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Amid the flurry of K-BBQ and hotel buffet offerings, there is another growing trend in the local food scene: Japanese restaurants that put the spotlight on yakiniku or grilled Japanese meat. These popular stops solidify what we already know about gastronomy in Manilathat now, more than ever, Filipinos have taken on a more active role in the selection of their food choices by welcoming a DIY format for the preparation of meals. This phenomenon shines through in Esquire Philippines’ list of 17 go-tos for grilled Japanese meat, a delicacy that comprises just a fraction of the cuisine everyone has come to love. 

This list is unranked. Each featured restaurant on this round-up of the best yakiniku restaurants in Manila was assessed with the following criteria: quality and range of yakiniku offered, the staff’s careful attention to patrons, special menu add-ons, and how all these figures into a value-for-money dining experience. 

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1| Miyazaki Gyu

It’s no surprise that one of Manila’s best-kept secrets for a premium steak experience has merited a spot on our list of the best restaurants for Japanese wagyu. Beyond Miyazaki Gyu’s top-notch selection of wagyu beef, however, is a far more inclusive culinary opus that showcases chef Kensuke Sakai’s stronghold on Japanese fare. Its menu is compact, offering only a handful of sukiyaki, donburi, steak, and yakiniku options that use choice ingredients. If there’s anything to note when dining at Miyakazi Gyu, it’s to rest easy knowing that in exchange for its steep price tag, a pleasant and rewarding meal is underway.

Photo by Miyazaki Gyu.
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Esquire Recommends:

  • Karubi
  • Special Marble
  • Red Part

One McKinley Place, 4th Avenue corner 26th Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig

 

2| Tajimaya

Aside from Tajimaya’s premium wagyu set menus is the restaurant’s lifeblood, yakiniku. This popular Japanese chain may not include the marbled beef in its all-you-can-eat lineup, but it has plenty of other meat and seafood cuts to choose from such as beef and pork slices, special sausages, squid rolls, and shrimp pieces. As with any other yakiniku stop, it’s best to identify your favorites early on so you can get your money's worth out of the dining experience. Cook only pieces that you are looking to consume within the next few minutes to ensure the freshness of your meats all the way through. Tajimaya has several ingredients to dip your meats in, including bean sauce and chili paste. 

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Esquire Recommends:

  • Beef Tongue
  • Boneless Short Ribs
  • Special Outside Skirt
  • Japanese Bacon

One Rockwell West Tower, Rockwell Center, Makati City; Level 2, SM Mall of Asia, Pasay City; Upper Ground Floor, Alabang Town Center, Alabang, Muntinlupa City

 

3| Shaburi & Kintan Buffet 

Fans of both shabu shabu (hot pot) and yakiniku will be in for a treat at Shaburi and Kintan Buffet. Here, you will find the two Japanese concepts fused under one roof through carefully designed buffet menus. While you take on either, you can enjoy a centralized buffet spread where an assortment of fresh salads, fried selections, dipping sauces, and desserts is made available to pair with your selected main course. Wash down the rich flavors of yakiniku (or shabu shabu, depending on your fancy) with unlimited helpings of UCC coffee or a bowl (or two!) of its soft serve matcha ice cream.

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Esquire Recommends:

  • Tasty Karubi
  • Gyu Tongue 
  • Rosu
  • Wagyu Karubi

Level 4, Top of the Glo, Glorietta 2, Makati City

 

4| Homare 

The Bellevue Manila’s contribution to the yakiniku trend is Homare (“honor” or “glory” in Japanese), a posh, modern getaway in the south that seeks to elevate the Japanese cuisine experience. Homare, which opened its doors to the public recently, is best known for its pièce de résistance: Japanese A5 Wagyu that the hotel regularly imports from Japan. Aside from its selection of yakiniku meat, the restaurant has standard Japanese favorites down pat, including a wide assortment of sushi, sashimi, udon, and donburi. This promising newbie sources its ingredients from only the best producers, aligning with its vision to maintain the authenticity of quality traditional Japanese fare.

Photo by HOMARE
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Esquire Recommends:

  • Japanese A5 Wagyu Meat 

Level 2, Tower Wing, of The Bellevue Manila, North Bridgeway, Malacca Lane, Alabang

 

5| Urameshi-Ya Yakiniku 

When talk of yakiniku comes around, this then-Little Tokyo hotspot surfaces as a top-of-mind choice. It’s clear that Urameshi-Ya’s loyal patrons have joined it in its new home along Chino Roces Avenue; despite the restaurant’s concealed location, it gets a steady influx of customers until late in the day. After all, at Urameshi-Ya, you are assured a wide assortment of meat cuts, sausages, seafood, chicken, and vegetables, all on display and served on demand. If you take the all-you-can-eat route, you can also enjoy hefty servings of rice, miso soup, and salad to go with the juicy meats. 

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Esquire Recommends:

  • Tokujyo Karubi
  • Wagyu Cubes
  • Hotate Yaki (Scallops)
  • Ebi Yaki (Shrimp)

G&A Building, 2303 Chino Roces Avenue Extension, Magallanes, Makati City

 

6| Yurakuen

Its stunning sushi collection is worth a look, but Diamond Hotel’s Yurakuen proves it has much more up its sleeve with year-round, all-you-can-eat offerings of teppanyaki and yakiniku. Both buffet menus start on a high note, each featuring a solid array of the hotel’s sushi, maki, and sashimi bestsellers. Don’t be overwhelmed with its menu options and remember to make room for the stars of the yakiniku lineup: choice cuts of marinated beef (it has amazing wagyu) and fleshy scallops that make the trip to the heart of Manila worth it.

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Esquire Recommends:

  • Beef Tenderloin
  • Pork Belly
  • Scallop
  • Beef Short Ribs

Diamond Hotel, Roxas Boulevard Corner J. Quintos Street, Malate, Manila

 

7| Yakiniku Sakura 

If you are in the mood for a quick, no-fuss yakiniku fix, this low-key Makati stop is the way to go. Yakiniku Sakura’s interiors are far from fancy, perhaps a little worn, but patrons come for its affordable barbecued meats that stay tender even after some time on the grill. Its wide selection of meats, including the crowd favorite Original Karubi, is what keeps its fan base hooked through the years. To balance off the richness of the meats, do get a platter of fresh sashimi on the side. 

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Esquire Recommends:

  • Sakura Original Karubi
  • Wagyu Tokujo Karubi
  • Tanshio 

Doña Concepcion Building, Arnaiz Avenue, San Lorenzo, Makati City

 

8| Yokohama Meat Kitchen

Yakiniku Zanmai, the Japanese barbecue chain from Japan, is to thank for Yokohama Meat Kitchen, another Makati stop for top-notch grilled meat and seafood selections. Since it opened in 2015, Yokohama has left a mark on its customers, which are usually families or big groups. Here you can find different varieties of choice cuts including wagyu beef, pork, chicken, and the more daring options, the Yawaraka Harumon (pork intestines) and Liver Yaki. 

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Esquire Recommends:

  • Wagyu Tokujo Harami
  • Jo Karubi
  • Yawaraka Harumon

Jupiter Corner Antares Street, Bel-Air, Makati City

 

9| Gyumon Yakiniku

Gyumon Yakiniku is among the local yakiniku restaurants that notably marries specialties from both Japanese and Korean cuisines. While the yakiniku route stays true to its Japanese roots (it starts with a generous serving of shredded cabbage doused in a light vinaigrette), there are traditional Korean items on the menu that are worth a try, including spicy kimchi, which you can take on its own or with a Korean-style flat cake. Then, when you’re ready for the yakiniku, feast on a variety of over 15 premium meats and an assortment of vegetables, seafood, and poultry. In true Korean fashion, you can take these pieces in a lettuce wrap dipped in a traditional fermented sauce for added zing.

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Esquire Recommends:

  • Jo Karubi
  • Gyu Tan
  • Tokusen Karubi

Creekside Mall, Amorsolo Street, Legaspi Village Makati City; Level 1, Pan Pacific Manila, M. Adriatico corner General Malvar Street, Malate, Manila; South Park Plaza, Paseo de Magallanes, President Sergio Osmeña Highway, Magallanes, Makati City

 

10| Yoshimeatsu

Yet another pit stop for Japanese-Korean fusion cravings is Yoshimeatsu, which has one goal in mind: for the “modern Filipino” to enjoy the two cuisines in one go. And that it does, with a highly comprehensive menu where 13 types of meat and 19 side dishes come to play. At only P549 per person, you get unlimited servings of sushi, tempura, and curry beef along with plates of pa muchim, kimchi rice, and yangnyeom pork. Outside of the eat-all-you-can deal are premium meat sets that feature beautifully marbled wagyu, ox tongue, and sirloin slices.   

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Esquire Recommends:

  • Spicy Beef Yakiniku
  • Sliced Curry Beef
  • Spicy Sliced Pork Baguette
  • Seafood Cheese Balls

Tomas Morato corner Scout Fernandez Street, Quezon City; Maria Clara Street, Santo Domingo, Banawe, Quezon City; Sunshine Square, Mandala Park, Shaw Boulevard Mandaluyong City; Aguirre Avenue, BF Homes, Parañaque City

 

11| Sambo Kojin

The perennial choice for grilled Japanese and Korean specialties remains Sambo Kojin, which has several branches dotted across Manila. A quick sweep of a typical Sambo Kojin branch tells you its dining spreads really have something for every fancy. In fact, it brings together over 50 yakiniku dishes on top of an already extensive range of cooked viands and appetizers, carvings, sushi and sashimi, and indulgent treats. Amplify the flavors of your grilled meats by having your pick of dipping sauces, which include the staples, teriyaki, ponzu, and a namesake special house blend. 

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Esquire Recommends:

  • Aspara Buta Roll (Asparagus Bacon Roll)
  • Vanamei (Shrimp)
  • Ebi Foilyaki (Foil-wrapped Prawns in Butter and Garlic)
  • Pork Ribs in Bulgogi Sauce
  • U.S. Marbled Beef in Sambo Kojin Sauce 

Sambo Kojin branches 

12| Tajima Japanese Yakiniku Restaurant

Not to be confused by another yakiniku chain is Tajima, which combines the sunset view of the Manila Bay with an even better array of Japanese delights. Find a lavish selection of traditional favorites in its menu; apart from yakiniku, it offers rice, yakitori and hot pot sets, kushiage, tempura, sushi, and sashimi. People come for its yakiniku platters, however, which come in two sizes: small (good for two to three persons) and big (good for four to five persons). All yakiniku sets are served with mixed vegetables and a platter of kimchi. 

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Esquire Recommends:

  • Yakiniku Morawase Premium
  • Yakiniku Morawase Special

Level 2, Harbor Square, CCP Complex, Malate, Manila

 

13| Kazoku Japanese Restaurant 

Foodies in the north have been raving about Kazoku (which means “family”), a humble Japanese restaurant in the Tomas Morato area that lives by its moniker by bringing together big groups over a celebration of yakiniku. It’s known to keep its gastronomic lineup affordable with a la carte options all under P500. Its Yakiniki BBQ All-You-Can-Eat deal, in particular, falls below this reasonable price point and includes an unlimited supply of salad, soup, beef, pork, chicken, sausage, and shrimp. And, for just P188, you can have your feast with bottomless local or Japanese beer. 

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Esquire Recommends:

  • Beef Teppan
  • Wagyu Beef 
  • Yakiniku Bento

The Grandia Place, Mother Ignacio Avenue, South Triangle, Quezon City

 

14| Sandaya Yakiniku 

Fisher Mall’s entry for some of the best yakiniku you can find in Manila is Sandaya Yakiniku. It’s known for its superior meats and seafood pieces that are offered a la carte, as sets good for up to five persons, or buffet style. Sandaya also offers meats and assorted vegetables packed in a tight lettuce wrap, which you can flavor with homemade sauces. Should you opt for an eat-all-you-can yakiniku spree, the deal comes with limited servings of sushi, sausages, and coffee jelly. 

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Esquire Recommends:

  • Japanese Wagyu Inside Skirt
  • Pork Belly Leek Roll
  • Australian Wagyu Cube Roll

Level 3, Fisher Mall, Quezon Avenue, Quezon City

 

15| Ichika Japanese Grill

The folks behind Takashi Japanese Cuisine are the brains behind Ichika Japanese Grill, a Kapitolyo gem best known for its yakiniku offerings that won’t break the bank. Ichika’s meat-all-you-can offering is priced at only P499, and with this deal, you can already gorge on limitless servings of three types of meat, two soup variants, four side dishes, rice, and iced tea. They also have a satisfactory selection of sausages, skewers, vegetables, and other sides for grilling, which starts at just P98. Ichika stays true to DIY dining by offering a yakiniku sauce countera haven for sweet, salty, spicy, and zesty flavors that can be mashed up to complement the meat’s toasty end notes.

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Esquire Recommends:

  1. Beef Galbi
  2. Pork Galbi
  3. Special US Rib

Pioneer Center Supermart, Pioneer Street, Kapitolyo, Pasig City

 

16| Happy Niku 

Another Kapitolyo find for your yakiniku needs is Happy Niku, a small hideaway on busy Brixton Street. X marks the spot when those distinctly Japanese touches come into sightred paper lanterns, tori gates, and sakura. Like most of its neighboring dining joints, Happy Niku is undeniably casual and straightforward, from its ambiance to its service to its menu. Get started on your food trip by coming in as a party of two (at the minimum), so you can avail any of its eat-all-you-can options: pork yakiniku only, pork and beef yakiniku only, or unli all, which extends the buffet selection to its yakitori, tempura, and maki options. Its buffet menu also has an a la carte counterpart, with each dish served by the plate. 

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Esquire Recommends:

  • Sliced Beef Short Plate in Curry Sauce
  • Sliced Pork Belly in Sweet & Spicy Sauce

 

Brixton Victoria Plaza, Brixton Street, Kapitolyo, Pasig City

 

17| Gyu Kaku

Located in Shangri-La Plaza’s East Wing is Gyu Kaku, another trove for yakiniku meat. Here, the meat is served with a generous assortment of seafood, appetizers, soups, and salads. Do make a beeline for the bestselling Harami Tare, a skirt steak soaked in a special soy marinade, that pairs amazingly well with a cold glass of Japanese beer. The Harami Shio is an alternative for those in the mood for lightly seasoned meats that still leave a full-bodied taste after each bite. End the meal with a scoop of Gyu Kaku’s vanilla ice cream, which it tops with soya bean powder and Japanese brown sugar syrup, or a helping of its popcorn ice cream.

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Esquire Recommends:

  • Harami Tare 
  • Harami Shio 
  • Brisket Blend

Level 2, Shangri-La Plaza Mall, Ortigas, Mandaluyong City

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