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スタミナ苑, 清月苑, 叙苑, 京城苑, etc. are all real yakiniku places in Japan. I don't see the character 苑 in the names of any other type of cuisine there.

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First of all, I can confirm that 「苑」 is indeed very commonly used in the name of Yakiniku restaurants. Just from memory I know of at least 2 such places.

As was mentioned by @aguijonazo in a comment to the question, the reason for this seems to stem from Korean culture. The link he posted explains that Koreans opening Yakiniku shops in Japan in the 50s wanted them to become beautiful/nice (立派) places, just like gardens/parks (苑).

店が『苑』のように立派な場所になるように

A user on a Chiebukuro post I found claims that the word 「苑」 carries the connotation of a place where the nobility gathers.

貴族達が集う場所

This may be another reason why Koreans chose to use the Kanji 「苑」 in the name of their BBQ restaurant.

Side note

In the first of the aforementioned sites it is also claimed that Korean BBQs in the USA often have the word "Garden" in their name - I am not American and cannot comment on the veracity of that, but maybe someone else can?

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  • This is a great answer, thank you! Do you also find that this kanji 苑 is used more often in the Korean context, or is it used in Japanese just as much? I understand that garden in Japanese would be more like 園 or 庭, right?
    – mwt
    Commented Apr 15, 2022 at 5:02
  • @mwt I don't speak Korean, nor know much about the usage of Kanji in Korea so I can't answer the first part. But on the second part, yes you are right! I found this article, which briefly goes over the history of the two Kanji. In essence, 園 can be used anywhere that 苑 can be, and almost always is.\ It does also say that people sometimes choose 苑 because it sticks out.\ In addition, there may be a slight difference where a 園 is surrounded by a fence, whereas a 苑 would be surrounded by an earth wall. I doubt many Japanese are aware of this.
    – derpda
    Commented Apr 15, 2022 at 8:34

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