I have no doubt you and your loved ones are going to absolutely love this popular and delicious Japanese beef bowl. This is an easy gyudon recipe you’ll be sure to make again and again!
What is Gyudon?
Gyudon is a Japanese beef bowl that consists of rice, beef, certain vegetables, and certain sauces. The toppings can vary depending on your preference. A traditional bowl of gyudon is a little sweet and salty, and full of umami. Add a sprinkle of ichimi (spicy red pepper flakes) and you’ve got yourself a dish that’s reasonably complex in flavor!
There’s a famous chain called Yoshinoya that’s open 24 hours a day and serves cheap bowls of gyudon—a place where most Gaijins (foreigners) have visited more than once during their Japanese stay. Yoshinoya beef bowls are a beloved and popular dish. Locations can also be found in select cities in the U.S. as well —but hopefully you’ll find making this recipe at home is a healthier and cheaper alternative to the average Yoshinoya beef bowl.
In my version of this Japanese dish, I’ve added fresh ginger as I’ve noticed many people not being so keen on the pickled version. I’ve also added mushrooms to make it healthier too. I would love to hear what you think of these slight alterations and how you like your gyudon!
- Beef: Beef is the main component of this dish. The beef is sliced thin to make it easy to pick up with rice and also helps absorb the sweet and savory flavors of the sauce.
- Onions: Onion slices add sweetness and an assertive taste to your dish—and a delightful aroma to your kitchen!
- Ginger: Just a little ginger is needed to add a little heat to gyudon. Red ginger or pickled ginger is also added as a topping once the dish is served over rice.
- Mushrooms: Mushrooms are a great source for fiber and antioxidants—further adding nutritional value and benefits to your meal.
- Granulated sugar: A little sugar is added to balance the salty and savory flavors. It will only enhance the flavors around it—giving it a very traditional Japanese taste.
- Dashi broth: Dashi is a fish-based broth that infuses the sauce with extra flavor. You should be able to find this at many Asian grocery stores or Japanese markets.
- Soy sauce: This savory sauce will add an abundance of unique umami flavor to your beef bowl!
- Mirin: Mirin is a Japanese cooking wine (fun fact: while it’s considered a Japanese cooking wine it was brought in by way of China) it is also known as rice wine. The mirin and dashi will bring a dry sweetness and saline notes to your dish.
- Sake: Adding cooking sake to this dish is entirely optional. If you have a preference for sake, definitely include it for extra sweetness. If you’re not sure, it’s okay if you want to sit this one out!
- Vegetable oil: The vegetable oil in this dish primarily only contributes to assist with the cooking of the vegetables this recipe calls for.
Gyudon Japanese Beef Bowl Directions
- Gather all of your ingredients and cooking tools.
- Put your beef in the freezer for about 15-20 minutes. This actually makes it easier to slice!
- In a large, deep pan or large skillet, turn your stovetop to medium high heat and add oil and the ginger strips. After just a minute, add the sliced onion and cook for about three to four minutes or until they are translucent.
- Then add mushrooms and cook for three minutes. You will want to add the dashi broth, soy sauce, sugar, mirin and sake as well, and bring to a boil.
- Take the beef out and with a knife, slice the beef as thinly as you can against the grain so they make juicy, thin slices of beef. Add to the pan, lower the heat a little, and cook for about ten minutes. You will be left with quite a bit of sauce/soup. This is going to be very strong in flavor so only use a teeny bit to drizzle on top.
- This is best served over a bowl of Japanese rice and seasoned with Ichimi or Shichimi (both are red pepper flakes). So serve as desired and don’t forget to enjoy it!
What is the Origin of Gyudon?
As mentioned just above, Gyudon is a Japanese beef bowl, therefore it hails from the beautiful island country of Japan. Meat as a main component to Japanese dishes didn’t really start to gain popularity until after the Meiji Era (1868-1912) when prominent qualities of Western culture began to take the nation by storm. Given the Meiji Era was a time of great change for the country, many new dishes were created during and after this time period. Another example where I share more about this era can be found in my Yakitori Style Beef Kebabs recipe.
What Side Dish to Pair with Gyudon
Gyudon is such a fulfilling and hearty dish on its own so you don’t really have to pair it with anything if you don’t want to. However, if you would like a compatible and light side dish, I recommend trying one of these popular Japanese recipes:
What Alternative Ingredients Can I Use in Gyudon
There are many ways you might make a Gyudon Japanese bowl but two core ingredients will always stay the same: rice and beef. Feel free to include the following ingredients to your own version of this recipe if you’re feeling fancy:
- Scallions: Also known as green onions, are a great added topping that you can find these little green ringlets adorning the top of many dishes, adding crunch and a little sweetness. Add them to the top of your sliced beef and your bowl will look one step closer to looking like a professional chef made it!
- Raw Egg Yolk: You may or may not be a fan of adding egg to the top of your dishes but it’s something I highly recommend. The creaminess of the egg once mixed with the beef and rice takes this dish to brand new heights!
Have you tried a Japanese beef rice bowl before? How do you make it? I’d love to hear about your experience with Gyudon and what your other favorite Japanese cuisine is too! What other delicious meals have you had lately?Print
Gyudon (Japanese beef bowl)
This is an easy traditional Japanese gyudon recipe you’ll be sure to make again and again!
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 4 people 1x
- Category: Main
- Method: Stove top
- Cuisine: Japanese
- 1 pound lean beef, thinly sliced
- 2 small onions, thinly sliced
- 1 thumb size ginger, peeled and sliced into thin strips
- 8–10 mushrooms, sliced into strips
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 cups dashi broth
- 1/2 cup soy sauce, plus an additional 2 tablespoons
- 1/2 cup mirin
- 1 teaspoon sake (optional)
- Put beef in the freezer for about 15-20 minutes (this makes it easier to slice).
- In a large deep pan, turn the heat to medium high and add oil and ginger strips. After one minute, add onions and cook for 3-4 minutes or until they are translucent. Add mushrooms and cook for 3 minutes. Add the dashi broth, soy sauce, sugar, mirin and sake, and bring to a boil.
- Take beef out and with a knife, slice the beef as thinly as you can against the grain. Add to the pan, lower the heat a little and cook for about 10 minutes.
- You will be left with quite a bit of sauce/soup. This is going to be very strong in flavor so only use a teeny bit to drizzle on top.
- This is best served over a bowl of Japanese rice and seasoned with Ichimi or Shichimi (both are red pepper flakes).
- Serving Size: 1 bowl
- Calories: 316
- Sugar: 27.8g
- Sodium: 1376.2mg
- Fat: 4g
- Saturated Fat: 1.8g
- Unsaturated Fat: 0.5g
- Trans Fat: 0.1g
- Carbohydrates: 35.5g
- Fiber: 2.1g
- Protein: 31.9g
- Cholesterol: 67.8mg
How can I use pickled mushrooms in Japanese cooking/dishes?
Pickled mushrooms are better for rice topping or in salads. I’m not sure they would go great inside Japanese dishes but to be fair, I have never tried. If you do, please let me know how it turns out 🙂
My husband will love this I’m sure. Thanks. Love your blog!!! Pinning lots of your recipes.
Thanks Sue! 🙂
Btw, what cuts of beef have you used? I’d add that you probably want to cross cut the meat.
It’s true that cross cutting is the best way to cut but when the meat is hard (being in that it was in the freezer for 20 minutes), it’s easy to cut and you don’t need to pay attention to how it’s being cut (sharp knife as well). Any cheap cut of beef is good, nothing with too much fat though unless you like that rubbery chewy feeling.
hehe not kidding I was real happy with my cheap-o bowl of this stuff at Yoshinoya on my way back to my hotel!
Can’t wait to try this at home, thanks!
If you’ve been to Japan, you’ve had Yoshinoya that’s guaranteed! Everyone seems to also have fond memories of it, be it that it was probably an incredibly fun night with friends! Thank you so much to everyone and your support, it truly makes me happy to read your comments and pushes me to work that much harder into making my blog a success!
Thank you! 🙂 You can omit the mushrooms completely, it’ll be just as good. Or if you’d like to keep it healthy, add a green pepper instead or one more onion. Enjoy!
Looks incredible! Do you have any substitution recommendations for someone who isn’t so fond of mushrooms?