Vegan food was a rarity in Japan a decade ago, but veggie-based restaurants and snacks have started popping up in recent years, and now you can find ramen shops, izakaya and even whole food festivals dedicated to a plant-based diet. Mock meat company Next Meats has extended the trend, releasing the country’s first ever yakiniku-style vegan meats in two different variations: harami (skirt steak) and kalbi (beef short rib steak).
Next Meats launched its first product, the plant-based burger patties Next Burger, in June 2020 after a successful crowdfunding campaign, and the company aims to popularise meat alternatives in Japan. Both the harami- and kalbi-style yakiniku meats are made entirely of soybeans, can be purchased online (¥1,950 per five 80g packages), and come delivered frozen and sealed in airtight packages.
The plant-based cuts boast twice as much protein and less than half as much fat as a typical slice of yakiniku meat. You cook it just like standard meat; it mimics the meaty texture so well, the company claims you'll have a hard time telling the soy-based meat from the real thing.
For now, you’ll have to buy the vegan yakiniku online and cook it at home, but Next Meats is keen to see plant-based meat on the menu at yakiniku restaurants in the future – and so are we!