Gyuudon in America: A little bit of heaven

If it’s not clear from the title I LOVE GYUUDON. Gyuudon (牛丼), where “gyuu” rhymes with “zoo” and “don” rhymes with “zone”, is a beef bowl. Specifically beef over rice. The most famous brand is Yoshinoya which is originally from Japan but found all over the world. I haven’t tried Yoshinoya in Taiwan or Singapore where I’ve also seen it but I have tried it in America and only God knows why but THEY EFFED IT UP! Why they thought they needed to change perfection into utter crap I have no idea but American Yoshinoya is this GROSS goopy glop with this thick flavorless gloopy clearish sauce, thick chunks of beef and veggies like broccoli, carrots and peas. THAT IS NOT GYUUDON!!!! WTF Yoshinoya!!

I had pretty much given up on beef bowl in the states. Then, on Monday, I was at the local Japanese market, Nijiya, and happened to look in the freezer section, something I rarely do and I saw this.

I didn’t have high hopes that a frozen package of beef would come close to the original delicious dish. Worse, I picked it up and it said distributed by Yoshinoya America, the same company that has screwed up the restaurants in America. Still, it wasn’t expensive so I bought a couple even though I expected to open it up and find chunky goopy gross beef instead of thin light yummy flavorful beef.

I took it home and immediately started fixing it up. I put a cup of rice in my rice cooker, pushed the button and impatiently waited the 50 minutes until the rice was ready checking every 10 minutes to see if it was done. Ding!!! It’s done. I nuke the beef and surprise surprise … it was great! Super thinly sliced, light onion based sauce. I put an egg on it, didn’t have any beni shoga 紅生姜 (red ginger) so I used a different pickled thing I thought would be a good substitute. I took a bite and … IT WAS PERFECT!!! Exactly how I remember it in Japan. Only thing missing is a bar and a stool and a employee in a Yoshinoya outfit to order from. I now have a source of Gyuudon in America! YES!

If you want to try it here’s what you need.

  • You need the package of beef. (see above).
  • You need freshly made steaming hot white rice.

optionally (and seriously recommended!)

  • You need a raw egg.(*)
  • You need Shichimi Togarashi or a substitute.

    If you don’t have any try some red pepper and sesame seeds, preferably coarsely ground

  • You need some beni shoga 紅生姜 (red ginger).

    You might be able to use Gari (sushi ginger) as a substitute. It’s not the same thing but it’s relatively close and is probably easier to find. Cut it up smaller if you do.


First, make the rice. When the rice is done, leave it in the pot as you want it hot! Now nuke the beef package. As soon as the beef is done put some rice in your bowl then poor the beef packet on top. Make a small depression in the center, crack open the raw egg and set it in the depression. Add some beni shoga.

Now mix it all up with your chopsticks. The egg may slightly cook from the heat of the rice and beef although it will mostly stay juicy. Mix it up good. When you’re done if you want to add a little spice add the shichimi togarashi.

Now eat it up!!!


PS: I have no idea how safe raw eggs are. They serve them commonly in Japan. In the states I know lots of people that are body building used to eat raw eggs. Personally I’m willing to take the chance because it’s the way I like it. Without the egg it’s not real to me. My voodoo is that I live a 1 minute walk from Whole Foods where I can buy organic free range eggs. Hopefully that makes them more safe. :-p According to this study, one in 30000 eggs is bad. I don’t know about you but I eat like 2-3 eggs a week max. That means even if I live to 100 I’m only going to eat 15000 eggs in my life. And, even if an egg was bad, there’s only a 1 in 200 chance of getting seriously sick. 1 in 30000 times 1 in 200 that’s one in 6 million chance. I’m far more likely to die in car accident than get seriously sick from a raw egg. But anyway, I’m not telling you to eat raw eggs. That’s your choice. Do so at your own risk.

  • Dan Mahoney

    ” I put a cup of rice in my rice cooker, pushed the button and impatiently waited the 50 minutes until the rice was ready checking every 10 minutes to see if it was done.”

    I LOL’d at this. What a kidder.
    I am lucky to have a pretty good Nippon grocery ( Tensuke Market) near where I take guitar lessons once a week, so I can get Beef Don at least once a week.
    Would be nice to have this to try at home though. Ill look and see if they have this in their frozen food sction next time Im there. Thanks for the tip! I love me good DON

  • Your gyuudon makes me hungry.

  • Troy

    Nijiya used to have this:

    which I liked a lot. Tried one and the next time I bought like 20 packets . . .

    Trader Joe’s sells like a lb of bulgogi marinated beef that is very good as don-buri. Tastes very similar to an awesome Korean beef bbq place in Akihabara that I liked.

  • Imman

    That was great so even whenever we’re in america we can still taste a great Gyuudon. Nice post. good thing you shared it!

  • Morinaga

    ‘Don’ is said exactly like the name ‘Don’. That little correction can fix a life time of learning.

  • Anonymous

    Don’t shoot me, but the US Yoshinoya Gyuudon is serviceable IMHO. The key is to order the plain beef bowl, and it’ll be pretty close to the way you remember it (yes, I have had Yoshinoya in Japan and here in the States…)

  • No, ‘Don’ the name in English is pronounced the same as ‘dawn’. ‘Don’ in Japanese rhymes with ‘own’.

  • Serviceable…hmm,. The meat is 2-3 times thicker in America than Japan and the sauce is completely different. I don’t find them similar at all.

  • Isalife123

    Is that first photo what American Yoshinoya serve customers as Gyuudon?!
    Unbelievable! The beef bowl you made from the frozen beef package looks
    exactly like what we call Gyuudon. It looks really yummy.

  • yummy…it looks greatttttttt your gyuudon :X

  • optionalkitten

    yeah, greg’s correct on that one… ‘o’s are always ‘oh’ in Japanese. BUT the vowel sound should be kept short, we pronounce ‘own’ pretty long because of the ‘w’. Otherwise it becomes ‘doun’, which is something else entirely…

    Thank you for the post Greg. Donburi is a must if one is to survive.

  • Maeve Cruz

    This is definitely yummy! I love Japanese food especially those rice toppings!

  • Wow! I don’t know about getting that getting risk in eating raw eggs. But i’ll tell you guys native raw eggs are mre delicious and healthy.