As part of my goodbye socializing, I went to a teppanyaki resturant with a few of my former students, now my friends. Teppanyaki, incidentally, is when meat and vegetables are prepared on a large flat grill in front of you by a skilled chef. I think it tends to be rather theatrical in America and is merely carried out with great skill in Japan. However, I'm not a big meat eater so I have limited experience with teppanyaki. At this restaurant (a great place in Takadanobaba called Daitokai Honkan which I heartily recommend), I ordered a tofu chicken "healthy lunch" and one of my former students remarked that burgers in Japan are different from those in the West because the usual burger of pressed meat is too dense and strong for Japanese tastes. Nowhere is the ability to dilute ground meat in a flavorful manner present for me than in tsukune, a chicken meatball which is grilled yakitori-style.
Tsukune is one of my favorite items when I go to yakitori-ya (grilled chicken restaurants/shops), and I will miss the flavor and texture. While I can make a good chicken meatball, I'm sure I could never recapture the flavor imparted by the grilling process nor could I easily get the "tare" sauce that it is served or prepared with that is sold in Japan.