Beef tongue – 牛タン[Gyu-tan]

Have you tried ”ぎゅうたん(beef tongue)” in Japan?

I’m sure some of you might say “sure, but it was like chewing hard gum…” Well, then it’s unfortunate but I should say, you don’t know what it actually is.

The beef tongue at Gyu-tan restaurant, this cuisine was born in Sendai, you can taste the difference from the ones with yakiniku style.

It’s more thick, soft. So maybe I can say it’s beef tongue steak. The texture is not the same as the other parts of beef like short loin, rib, or some famous parts. But at least you’ll enjoy it 🙂

Here, I introduce you about little more thing for your interesting, enjoyable trip.

*…The history of Gyu-tan…*

The story starts in 1948, about the time right after the world war Ⅱ. It was not peaceful time like many people lost jobs, surrounded by food shortage in Sendai. And people had a fight easily at that time.

Yakitori restaurant was easy business to start during the time, and they use all kinds of meat. 佐野 啓四郎 (Sano Keishirou), is known as the creator of Gyu-tan, also owned one of them. He is actually good chef, so he created menu as well. (The name of restaurant is “太助[Tasuke]”, it still exists in Sendai and owned by his family.)

But he had a trouble, with that other people can cook the exact same recipe. So even though he made popular cuisine, other restaurants copied them.

So, he visited his friend, who owns western restaurant, asked for advice. And his friend suggested to use beef tongue, because it was not usual thing to use that part in Japanese cuisine. And he tried beef tongue stew at his restaurant. He impressed by the taste, and decided to use beef tongue on his menu.

And finally, in 1950, He started to serve “牛タン定食[Gyu-tan set]” with taking a lot of trial and error.

*… Gyu-tan set …*

Usually included

・Grilled beef tongue (it already has salt taste)


・Miso tasted chili pickles

・Brown rice

・beef tail soup

This looks perfect set under the situation of food shortage, because the food last longer.

Unfortunately, it didn’t become popular among people for a while. But the visitors/ travelers made it famous and popular as local food of Sendai. Thank you travelers!

Now, there are so many Gyu-tan restaurants in Sendai, actually even outside Sendai. You can enjoy the differences from each restaurants.

I hope you enjoy it. 🙂

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