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"Get Your Gyudon"

Gyudon “Beef Bowl”

Get your groove on with Gyudon! A simple all-in-one “beef bowl” made with thin strips of beef and onion, cooked fairly quick in a savory-sweet Dashi-based broth and served over hot steamed rice and garnished with Beni Shoga, an Umezu pickled red ginger.

It’s one of the most popular fast food dishes in Japan, thanks to chain restaurants such as Yoshinoya and Sukiya. Think of it like this: Where as in the US we have hamburgers, in Japan, they have Gyudon.

“HynPake” Nate recently blogged his Gyudon recipe, which looked and sounded really oishii and easy to make, so I decided to give it a try. The following recipe is based on his, yet I modified it just ever-so-slightly, based on the ingredients I had on hand, taste and serving portions needed.

So let’s get our groove on and do this!

“Beef Bowl”
Serves 2

• 8-10 oz. (approx. 1/2 lb.) beef, thinly sliced and cut into bite-size strips (pre-cut “Sukiyaki” beef is an ideal choice for this, if available)
• 1 handful (about 5-7 caps) Shiitake Mushrooms, cut into thin strips (if dried, soak in hot water for 20 minutes and squeeze excess water)
• 1 medium-sized white onion, sliced
• 2½ cups water
• 1 packet dashino-moto
• 5 tbsp. shoyu
• 5 tbsp. mirin
• 5 tbsp. sake
• Cooked white rice (enough for 2 generous servings)
• Beni Shoga (Umezu pickled red ginger)

This highly-marbelized, thinly sliced Sukiyaki beef cooks quickly, is very tender and takes on the flavor of the broth quite well. One of the slices are folded over on the left corner so you can see just how thin it is.

Raw ingredients: Sliced Onions, Shiitake Mushrooms and Beef

Dashino-moto powdered soup base

Beni Shoga – Ginger pickled with Umezu and colored red. This large package was just $2.99 at Marukai. It was transferred into a glass jar for easier storage in the fridge.


Begin by adding water, dashino-moto powder, shoyu, mirin & sake in a deep skillet pan. Heat on stove then add onions…

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let the onions simmer in the broth for 10 minutes, or until they soften.

Add the sliced Shiitake Mushrooms and beef…

Use a spoon or chopsticks to gently incorporate and mix all the ingredients evenly in the pan with the broth. Cook another 2 minutes longer, or until the beef is just cooked through, then turn heat off.

Using a slotted spoon, serve the cooked beef, shiitake and onions over a bowl of hot steaming rice, and top with Beni Shoga. Pour extra sauce into the bowl over the rice to your own taste. Serve immediately while it’s hot.


Notice the unorthodox rectangle serving “bowl”. Think of this as the “Wendy’s hamburger” of Gyudon. You rebel. lol!

Notice that I also added chopped green onion, julienned fresh daikon and carrots on the side, which not only added color, but also a crisp and fresh texture and flavor contrast to the savory beef and onions. “Hardcore” Gyudon enthusiasts may frown upon that, but hey, this is MY kitchen!

So this was actually the second night in a row that I made this, as I really enjoyed the first night’s bowl. Only thing was, the market didn’t have Sukiyaki beef at the time, so on my first Gyudon session I used Teriyaki-style cuts of Beef…

Teriyaki beef (not marinated, just cut in that style)

Notice how there’s much less fat marbeling, and also what you can’t see is that it’s sliced a bit thicker than Sukiyaki… about a 1/4″, compared to the Sukiyaki, which is about 1/8″. This made it more difficult for the broth to penetrate and flavor it. So I ended up simmering longer than usual to absorb the flavors and cook through. The teriyaki-cut beef was also half the price of Sukiyaki, which says something about the difference in quality. Because this is a quick-cooking method, you need the best quality possible in order for it to be tender.

I also didn’t have Shiitake on the first session. Here you can see how the slices of beef are a bit thicker, more like stir-fry cuts…

So here you can see the finished “Gyudon” on my first night..

Looks pretty, but those cuts of beef are way too thick. It appears more like a stir-fry than Gyudon. It was still oishii, but I’ll stick with the Sukiyaki beef, which was much more tender and flavorful, and true to the dish.

I’ll also have to say you MUST have it with the Beni Shoga, or at least Daikon or some kind of tsukemono, as, IMO, the dish needs that contrast to really shine. The combination of the savory beef and onions, and slightly sweet “sauce”, along with the tangy-bite and crunch of the Beni Shoga is a fantastic marriage, and provides that critical and most tasty finishing touch.

So get your groove on and give Gyudon a try. A perfect comfort food for these chilly winter nights. Highly recommended. Arigato Nate!


11 thoughts on “"Get Your Gyudon"

  • January 11, 2008 at 9:51 pm

    Ooooh! Wow! Nice! You one fancy person! Mine just plain looking. But yours looks so ONO! Fantastic!

    I do use the very thinly sliced sukiyaki beef. I mean it’s very, very thin, like less than 1/16″ thick at the most!

  • January 12, 2008 at 6:30 pm

    Ho da ono looking!! If I cannot get sukiyaki beef here on da mainland, what would be my next best choice? Cuz over here… well… you know.

  • January 12, 2008 at 8:02 pm

    Mokihana, if no can get Sukiyaki already cut at the store, I’d go with something like tri-tip, which isn’t that expensive, yet still tender enough, and place it in the freezer until it’s “semi-frozen”. Not rock hard, as obviously you won’t be able to cut it. But to the point where it’s firm. This semi-frozen state will allow you to get really thin slices without the meat collapsing from the pressure of the knife blade. Also use a very sharp knife (of course).

    Like braddah Nate said, the cuts he uses are less than 1/16″. Wow, now that’s thin!

    But yeah, you need it to be thin in order for the savory-sweet broth to penetrate the meat fibers quickly.

    Also don’t let the meat simmer in the broth more than “just cooked through”, or it will become tough. I tried that with a couple pieces, and they became rubbery. Right when they cook through, turn the heat off.

    Kat, it’s the red color of the Beni Shoga that makes it look “professional”. lol Gotta’ “ack”, laddat. lol

  • January 12, 2008 at 9:18 pm

    Pomai – you one character!

    How you become so good at your food presentations?

    Closet chef or real life one?

  • January 12, 2008 at 9:33 pm

    Oh, forgot to mention, a raw egg is great to dip the meat into or cracked over the dish, just like with sukiyaki!

  • January 13, 2008 at 1:02 am

    I’m a “Closet Chef”. lol

    Easy to make food look good. Just add garnishes with contrasting colors, use nice-looking dishware that matches the type of food presented, and be mindful of the background. That said, don’t think I’m a “closet” anything else either. lol !

    Actually, my girlfriend is the one with the college degree in culinary arts.

    Me? I’m “edumacated” by the Food Network and other cooking shows, and reading about various cooking techniques and recipes online. As well as a willingness to go “hands-on” and actually cook what I’ve learned about from others. Such as the case with your Gyudon recipe!

  • January 31, 2008 at 9:25 pm

    I never think to cook gyudon at home, even though we always have those ingredients. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • February 1, 2008 at 2:38 am

    long time lurker, first time poster…
    I just made this for dinner… eaten it out before and this is my first time making it myself…

    oh man. so good. Thank you for the post!


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