This delicious gyudon beef bowl is based on the signature dish from a famous chain restaurant in Japan called "Sukiya" and now you can make it in your own kitchen! Thinly sliced beef cooked in a delicious dashi sauce with simmered onions, served on a bed of fluffy Japanese white rice. So much comfort in one bowl!
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What is Gyudon?
Gyudon is a delicious bowl of thinly sliced beef and onions that have been simmered in a delicious Japanese dashi sauce and then served on rice. The meat absorbs the flavour and the sauce is also poured over the rice, it's seriously so GOOD!
In Japanese, "gyu" (牛) means cow or beef and "don" (丼) is short for donburi, which means rice bowl. So the dish is only made with beef. Saying that, there is also a pork rice bowl called "butadon", you can check out my butadon recipe here!
Gyudon is usually topped with red pickled ginger we call "benishoga" (紅生姜) and scallions. Some people also add a raw pasteurized egg/egg yolk and a sprinkling of Japanese 7 spice called "shichimi togarashi" (七味唐辛子) for some added heat.
The history of gyudon goes all the way back to Meiji era (1868-1912) and used to be called "gyu-meshi" which literally means beef rice.
Where to eat gyudon in Japan
Gyudon is a type of fast food in Japan. It's extremely cheap and quick.
There are many popular gyudon chain restaurants in Japan such as:
You can eat in the restaurant alone or with friends, you can also get gyudon takeaway and drive through!
What kind of beef is used in gyudon?
Gyudon is a cheapy fast food dish so you shouldn't use expensive cuts of beef for this. Restaurants such as Sukiya and Yoshinoya use "short plate" (beef belly). This might also be known as the brisket part and includes flank steaks and skirt steaks.
These cuts of beef are known for being a little tough so it's important to cut them thin.
If you buy a block of beef belly, you can cut it thinly at home by putting it in the freezer for a little while. You don't want it to be rock hard, just firm enough that you can cut it very thin. I'd say 30 minutes per ½ lb (approx 225g) of meat.
I've heard that the meat used for philly cheesesteaks in the U.S work great for gyudon. If you live in the U.K, you can use "thin cut beef steaks" which can be found in supermarkets such as Tesco and Asda, they're not so fatty but they should still work.
This recipe replicates the feeling of fast food gyudon and needless to say, tastes amazing as well as being quick and easy to make at home!
What kind of beef does Sukiya use?
Did you know all of the gyudon chains like Sukiya, Yoshinoya and Matsuya exclusively use American (or sometimes Canadian) beef?
While you can technically use wagyu for gyudon, if you want to recreate those chain restaurant's taste, extremely soft, expensive beef like wagyu is not suitable or necessary.
Choosing moderately fatty and not too soft beef are important. Cheap cuts are perfect for this fast food dish!
Much like a burger is more than simply a patty in a bun, gyudon is more than just beef on rice.
You can customize gyudon in so many ways and Sukiya offers the following toppings to allow you to make the dish even more delicious!
- Three cheese
- Ponzu on grated daikon radish
- Raw egg / egg yolk
- Salad (with broccoli, shredded cabbage and sweetcorn)
These are just a few, there's many things you can add. For more ideas, you can check out Sukiya's menu here. (Not affiliated.)
Other Donburi Recipes
If you enjoyed this recipe, check out some of my other popular rice bowl recipes!
- Yakinikudon (Beef fried in a yakiniku BBQ style sauce and served on rice)
- Katsudon (Crispy pork cutlet and steamed egg served on rice)
- Butadon (Thick pieces of pork belly fried in a caramelised soy sauce served on rice)
- Garlic Teriyaki Chicken don (Flavourful chicken thigh coated in a garlic infused teriyaki sauce and served on rice)
- Oyakodon (Delicious pan fried chicken and steamed egg served on rice)
Gyudon（牛丼) literally means "beef bowl" in English.
If we're talking about the gyudon from popular restaurants like Sukiya and Yoshinoya specifically, they use beef short plate (beef belly). See the post above for more options and information.
Donburi dishes used white, Japanese short grain rice. You can see how to cook Japanese style rice here. Yoshinoya in particular state on their website (Japanese) that they use Japanese white rice specifically blended to match gyudon's taste.
In Japan, it's popular to garnish gyudon with chopped spring onions, pickled ginger or raw/soft boiled egg. You can eat miso soup, pickles or salad on the side if you like.
From Japanese perspective, I consider gyudon as fast food or junk food and I believe many Japanese people think that way too.