Gyudon or Beef Bowl is a Japanese comfort food served over rice that is quick to prepare (under 30 mins) and super delicious.
When I visited Japan in 2015, I didn’t expect to find so many delicious dishes. But much to my surprise, I only ate sushi twice and ramen once.
During the rest of my 2-week trip, I had fabulous meals in restaurants all over Japan.
I didn’t have a single meal I didn’t like or that I felt was subpar. Japan is really a culinary wonderland!
All that delicious food made me wish we had better Japanese food back home. But since we don’t (at least not near where I live), I like to whip up some easy, homemade Japanese recipes for dinner at least once a month.
Gyudon is probably the easiest and quickest meal you can make to get your feet wet into Japanese cuisine. It requires very few ingredients and it’s super easy to prepare for dinner.
It’s also a great dish to include in any bento box.
What is Gyudon (牛丼)?
Gyudon is a Japanese dish made with thinly sliced beef and onions served over a bowl of rice.
This dish was made popular by a Japanese fast food chain called Yoshinoya, which provides fast and affordable meals to workers in Japan to this day.
The restaurant chain started back in 1899 in order to feed fish market workers who didn’t have time to eat a “hot meal”. The chain has expanded through the years and is widely available in Los Angeles.
But you don’t have to live in California or visit Japan to try Gyudon. All you need is thin slices of beef, onions, ginger, and a mix of sugar, sake, mirin and soy sauce.
Most ingredients you will need for Gyudon are sold widely in US supermarkets these days and if you love Asian food, I bet you already have them in your pantry.
Sake can be found in most liquor stores.
If you have trouble finding these ingredients, you can find them on Amazon (affiliate links below).
Best Beef Cut for Gyudon
The best beef cut for making Gyudon is ribeye, because it’s thick and has some marbling fat. Because of it’s thickness, ribeye steak can be sliced very thinly at home without the help of a butcher.
Simply place the steak in the freezer for 1-2 hours or until it is firm enough to cut with a knife. Then simply use a very sharp knife to slice it as thin as you want it.
This is the same process I use for making Philly Cheesesteaks.
Do not leave the steaks in the freezer for longer than 2 hrs or they freeze solid and you will be unable to slice it.
Thinly sliced beef is sold in supermarkets specifically for Philly Cheesesteaks or you can ask the butcher to slice it for you.
And if you have an Asian supermarket near you, you will be able to find thinly sliced beef with no problem.
You can make Gyudon with other cuts of meat as well, like sirloin or thinly sliced pork chops. I have even made Gyudon using ground beef and it turned out just as delicious!
How to Make Yoshinoya-Style Japanese Beef Bowls
Making Gyudon is super easy and there is a variety of ways to make it. Some people use dashi, some people don’t. Some people top it with a fried egg, some people don’t.
I like my Gyudon more on the salty side, so I use less sugar, more soy sauce and since I love ginger and onions, I like a generous amount of both.
I also like to top it with Ichimi Togarashi (hot pepper), for a little kick. If you like it extra toppings, add green onions and pickled red ginger (beni shoga).
Really there is no right or wrong way of making it. Give this recipe a try and adjust it to your own taste.
Gyudon Japanese Beef Bowl
- 1 lb ribeye or sirloin steak
- 1/2 yellow onion
- 2 tbsp sake
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp mirin
- 1 tbsp dashi broth or water
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 3 tbsp fresh ginger
- 2 cups cooked Japanese white rice to serve
- Ichimi Togarashi (Topping)
- Cook rice per instructions of manufacturer.
- In a large pan, over medium high heat, mix soy sauce, mirin, sake, sugar and dashi broth or water and bring to a boil.
- Add the onions, ginger and beef and bring it back to a boil. Cook for 15 mins until the beef is cooked and the onions are soft.
- Taste beef for saltiness and flavor. If you need to, add more ginger and cook for a few more minutes.
- Plate in on top of white rice. Sprinkle the Ichimi on top of it. Enjoy!
If you enjoyed this recipe, you might also enjoy these other Asian-inspired ideas for dinner:
- Oven Baked Honey Ginger Wasabi Salmon
- Pork Gyoza (Japanese Potstickers)
- Instant Pot Korean Beef
- Korean Fried Chicken
- Grilled Korean Pork Chops
- Chinese Cucumber Salad
What recipe should I make next?