how the vegan meat barbecue at Yakiniku Like compares to kalbi beef

With more and more vegan options available in Tokyo, plant-based Restaurants and desserts are now part of the city’s regular dining scene. Now even the most carnivorous restaurants have become more inclusive like the barbecue chain I love yakiniku. Vegans can now get in on the grilling action with fake “kalbi” meat at Yakiniku Like restaurants across Japan.

The meat substitute, developed by Next Meat, was rolled out to all Yakiniku Like locations in 2020. The brand’s latest offering is the Next Kalbi 2.0, a new and improved version of the brand’s first fake kalbi meat. The Next Kalbi 2.0 has an increased protein content, which apparently helps give it a meaty texture, and is served with a vegan sauce developed by Yakiniku Like.

Wondering if the meat substitute lived up to its description, we headed over to Yakiniku Like to try it for ourselves.

Photo: Kaila ImadaGrilling Next Kalbi 2.0 (right) next to regular cuts of beef (left)

Before cooking, faux kalbi looks like thin slices of cooked chicken or pork, rather than beef. However, when placed on the grill, it cooks quite well and chars evenly like any regular cut of meat.

Next Yakiniku Like meats
Photo: Kaila ImadaA close up of Next Kalbi 2.0 once cooked

When we took a bite, the texture was surprisingly similar to meat, although the Next Kalbi wasn’t as tender compared to actual beef. Still, blindfolded, we’d say the taste could easily fool anyone. No doubt the special sauce that is served over the fake meat helps give it that quintessential kalbi flavor.

Next Yakiniku Like meats
Photo: Kaila ImadaAt Yakiniku Like, you can order from your individual iPad

Next Kalbi 2.0 comes in two different sets which both come with regular beef, rice and soup. One set gives you a total of 150g of meat for ¥1,180 while 200g of meat will cost you ¥1,300. If you don’t want to commit to a large order, you can also get a 50g serving of Next Kalbi 2.0 for just ¥320.

With such reasonable prices, you can’t go wrong trying this unique vegan meat. Plus, Yakiniku Like’s individual grills make it perfect for a solo treat – or a way to enjoy yakiniku without worrying about sharing your grill or utensils with friends. Enjoy your lunch!

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