gyudon 024

Gyudon (Beef Bowl) (recipe adapted from Cooking with Dog)

Gyudon, which is simmered beef and onions served over a bowl of white rice, is a Japanese fast food original. When I lived in Tokyo, like countless other “salarymen,” I sometimes ate it on the way home from work or after a night of drinking. I don’t why, but there seem to be many foods that appeal more to Japanese men than women, and gyudon is definitely one of them.  Ramen noodles would be another example.

I was looking for an authentic recipe and thankfully member “BigSal” recommended a video series on YouTube called Cooking with Dog, which is hosted by an adorable toy poodle named Francis nonetheless. I’ll bet that the series was developed specifically for a Japanese audience eager to learn English. While it is rather comical to watch from a “western” perspective, the precision in the recipes is admirable, and I’m guessing there are many Japanese housewives interested in cooking who take it rather seriously as an English learning tool.

Note about the optional garnishes: I dislike beni shoga (Japanese pickled ginger), but I wouldn’t even consider not using shichimi togarashi (Japanese seven spice). I guess everyone has a preference. The original recipe called for soft boiled eggs, which I did not include.

  • 2 tablespoons sake
  • 2 tablespoons hon-mirin or aji-mirin (e.g. Kikkoman brand)
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce (e.g. Kikkoman brand)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 pound rib-eye steak or beef tenderloin, sliced as thinly as possible into 3″ long pieces
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon hon-dashi or dashi-no-moto (bonito fish soup stock, e.g. Shimaya brand)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated (a Microplane works great for this)
  • 1 medium onion (8 ounces), cut into 1/2″ wedges through the root and separated into layers
  • cooked Japanese rice (e.g. Kokuho Rose, Botan, or Nishiki brands)
  • scallions, sliced – optional
  • shichimi togarashi or nanami togarashi (Japanese seven spice, e.g. S&B brand) – optional
  • beni shoga (Japanese picked ginger) – optional


In a small bowl combine the sake, hon-mirin or aji-mirin, soy sauce, and sugar.

Fill a medium-sized saucepan 2/3 full of water and bring to a boil. Parboil the beef just until the color is no longer red. Remove it with a slotted spoon and put it in a small bowl. Discard the water.

Heat a 12″ frying pan (one with a lid but uncovered initially) over medium heat and add sauce. When it starts to boil add the beef and coat well with sauce. Remove beef from pan and set aside.  To the sauce add 3/4 cup water, hon-dashi or dashi-no-moto, ginger, and onions. Stir and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and add the beef. Stir well.

Ladle the simmered beef and onions along with some liquid over bowls of steamed rice. Sprinkle with choice of optional garnishes if desired: scallions, shichimi togarashi, and beni shoga.

Prep note: Have your butcher thinly slice the beef for you, or if that is not possible, put it in the freezer for an hour and slice it yourself.


Try These Other Japanese Favorites
Omuraisu (Japanese-Style Omelet Stuffed with Chicken and Rice)
Pork Yakisoba

What’s oishii? “Oishii” (pronounced “oy she”) is the Japanese word for delicious. I love sharing great recipes I discover from popular restaurants, cookbooks, food magazines (Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, etc.), tv shows, friends, family, and other blogs. I also develop my own. Please contact me if there is a recipe you would like the test kitchen to consider:

Now it’s your turn. What are your favorite Japanese fast foods? Do you have any interesting uses for shichimi togarashi? If you enjoyed this post, we would love to hear from you! -Michael

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