There are no dudes named Bubba or a “barbecue” out back because yakiniku is grilling (by you bud)
There are no smokers or barbecuers out back of Manpuku (ma’n-poo-koo), but there are individual grills at each table for you to grill your own food on. If any of that sounds familiar to you, it’s because Japanese yakiniku (yaki=grill, niku=beef) is influenced by Korean “BBQ” which Bubba knows is not barbecue either.
Think of yakiniku like tapas, or small plates where you can sample various cuts of meat to seafood. If that sounds good to you, Manpuku (manpuku means “pleasantly full/stomach”) is the best small chain of restaurants in the Los Angeles area.
Are you the type of person who likes large hunks of cheap low-quality meat, or smaller cuts of quality meat (with a great personality, enjoys food, and is witty)
If you answered quality over quantity, Manpuku/Greg is for you. Congrats, read on, if not click here.
Like an American steakhouse, Japanese yakiniku restaurants also offer up quality grades of meat, but Japanese restaurants differ by offering a wider range of cuts to specializing in highly marbled Japanese beef (wagyu).
Beef Marbling Scores:
- U.S.D.A Prime: Select: 0-1, Choice: 2-3, Prime: 4-5 BMS rating
- Australia: 0 (100-200) to 9 (1,100+) MSA rating
- Japan: 1 (A1), 2 (A2), 3-4 (A3), 5-7 (A4), 8-12 (A5) BMS rating
The rating only reflects on the marbling, and not on the varying techniques employed by different regions of Japan, and producers in Australia, to the United States. All of these producers will create a final product that can differ in juiciness, tenderness, and flavor regardless of grade – if you want to learn about five different types of wagyu, click here.
You got to know how to work the grill right
I have to set you up for success, so I’m going to give out some basics on how to grill.
I don’t get how so many people are missing out on eating cuts like tontoro because it has a firmness to it, but it has enough fat to make a very tasty and tender cut of pork.
I remember a time when I was in Korea, and I grabbed the raw meat back off the grill with my hands (I hope I washed my hands) because the waitress immediately dumped all of the meat onto a cold grill. Don’t worry, my Korean friend apologized on my behalf, but I did that because I couldn’t speak Korean. If I could, I would have asked her for the tongs, but more importantly, I would have told her that is not how you grill meat or let alone cook.
If you have the grill properly heated, when the cuts are this thin, it will only take about a minute on one side, and barely another minute on the other.
You will know when one side is done when you start to see it glisten although if you start to see a lot of smoke/flames, you just might have your grill a little too hot because you don’t want to char your meat.
Not just a slab of beef, but you can also eat pork, chicken, vegetables, to seafood all in one meal, a smorgasbord
A common American steakhouse will typically only offer up New York strip, tenderloin, filet mignon, rib-eye, to t-bone. Which are all great cuts of beef, but once you try all those cuts at a yakiniku restaurant, along with a few other cuts you have never heard of, you will probably be making yakiniku into a weekly habit.
This is my weekly spot to go to, especially on Fridays after work with a coworker (Ganesh).
Really lean meats like seafood, chicken, to cuts like filet mignon are ruined if you over cooked them. You’ll know that when you cross that line because your food will turn out tough, dry, and chewy.
- Beef: filet, short rib, rib cap, rib-eye, skirt, tri-tip, tripe, tongue, intestine, to liver.
- Pork: cheek, sausage, and belly.
- Chicken: breast and chicken leg.
- Seafood: squid, shrimp, green mussels.
- Vegetables: shishito peppers, asparagus, mushrooms.
Not everything needs or has to have a dipping sauce although these are the suggested sauce pairings. Manpuku will typically provide you the appropriate dipping sauce although some locations will differ (you might have to request the ones below):
- Manpuku’s soy sauce: beef sashimi with just soy sauce and grated garlic, or soy sauce, sliced onion, and wasabi. All the other beef dishes really don’t need a dipping sauce, but you can use the soy sauce, garlic, and wasabi (any combo).
- Sesame oil and salt: grilled beef tongue
- Yuzu kosho (sauce): tontoro (pork cheek), pork belly, and chicken to seafood such as shrimp although for shrimp I suggest a squeeze of lemon.
I can’t believe Manpuku is bothering to market their wagyu as “Kobe style” when they should be pushing the specific wagyu that they are selling – I think they were doing Miyazaki at one point although they may have switched to SRF (Snake River Farms)? which would explain the Americanized approach to marketing (going with perpetuating stupid).
Manpuku just recently, I think as of last year finally did a website and created a social media presence for Manpuku. Piror to that, there was nothing, but I’m glad they did because they are one of the best Japanese restaurant groups in all of L.A. (probably my favorite).
Wagyu should be cooked medium rare, and if you are afraid of the red liquid, don’t be. The red liquid is what gives meat its red color which is myoglobin, not blood.
Now on to the fear of raw eggs. In Japan raw eggs are eaten all day, everyday, but in the U.S., it was several decades ago that Rocky Balboa was waking up early in the morning to down five raw eggs to start his day off. Nowadays, people have peanut allergies to being sensitive to or afraid of gluten, to foods with hard sounding syllables.
If you eat raw fish, tartare, or carpaccio, you have to try raw beef the Japanese way.
The secret to the perfect beef sashimi is in the details from the condiments of grated garlic and wasabi, but also the thinly sliced onions to the type of soy sauce they use. In the past, Manpuku had used a shoyu (soy-sauce) from the Ehime prefecture, but I’m not sure if they still do.
Raw foods are often associated with sushi and the Japanese, but raw meats are eaten all over the world from Slovakia, Sweden Finland, France, Ethiopia, Italy, Chile, Korea, Turkey, Levant (Eastern Mediterranean), to the Hmong people.
Raw liver is so damn good, and I would say it is my favorite or top two to three things at Manpuku. I like it because the texture is almost like a firm jello with a crispness to it, but when it’s dipped in sesame oil and salt blend and eaten with sliced onions, it is one of the best dishes at a yakiniku restaurant.
Onto the cuts that most consider as just “meat.”
This is what you’ll order if you’re just looking for “meat.”
Do your prostate a favor and eat more greens.
Vegetables are not an afterthought in the vast majority of Asian restaurants because if you eat Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, to Korean food, they all have vegetables mixed in with most dishes.
Bubba does know how to barbecue shrimp, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. There’s uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep-fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That- that’s about it.
I’d say beef tongue is probably my favorite cuts, so I’m glad Mexican restaurants have lengua taco’s (along with tripas and cabeza).
If you eat “meat,” you’re eating muscle. The heart, the tongue, thighs, and the ass/hindquarters is all muscle which btw, Americans eat a lot of ass than any other cut in the form of rump, beef round, ground round (hamburger meat).
Stodgy steakhouses with a la cart creamed spinach are cool if you don’t mind paying $30-$70 for a slab of beef, and $8 to $12 per side. Although, if you’re looking for a little more casual of a spot that is also great for dates where you and Bubba can enjoy some grilled meat, Manpuku is your place.
Manpuku locations will have menu’s that will differ slightly, so I’ll point out some of the differentiating details.