“Gyudon,” a (beef bowl) belongs in the Japanese category of a donburi, or bowl dish. It is made with beef and onion ladled over a bowl of rice. The beef and onion are prepared with soy sauce, mirin, sugar and sake.
This actually tells you very little about the flavor, as it seems most Japanese dishes are prepared using that list of ingredients; it’s the amounts that change, and the amounts that give gyudon a sweet, meaty, and fairly salty flavor.
Gyudon shops will offer “beni shoga,” or pickled red ginger, and “shichimi,” or red chili mixed with other seasonings as sort of condiments. I usually use both, as well as a bit of extra soy sauce Some people, myself on the occasion, will also order a raw egg served separately and into the finished product.
A great spot to try out this tasty, if a bit unhealthy and low-brow, meal is at Yoshinoya. This Japanese fast food chain specializes in serving up in gyudon fast and cheap. This is one of the most popular restaurants in Japan, although it is mostly frequented by the “salaryman” type. Walking by a Yoshinoya at 10 in the evening is a sure fire way to see a full house of single exhausted corporate warrior types with no one to cook for them at home. Kind of depressing really, but the food is pretty good anyway.
Yoshinoya is a pretty old brand. It was founded in 1899, in the Nihohbashi Fish Market in Tokyo. The market was subsequently destroyed in the Great Kanto Earthquake, and forced to move to its currently location at Tsukiji, and Yoshinoya followed along. Yoshinoya now has over 1400 branches worldwide, in far flung locations like Japan (obviously), Australia, Hong Kong, Mainland China, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, United States and the Philippines.
According to the Hong Kong Yoshinoya website, Yoshinoya’s logo was created by Yoshinoya’s founder Eikichi Matsuda, and has been the company logo since inception, in 1899. The orange, “bull horn” logo came from the Y in Yoshinoya’s English name “Y”, the rope around the horns is made up of 27 rice grains of rice, and it represents the “Yokozuna” ranking in sumo-wrestling, and the quality of their food.
So if you fancy some beef in a bowl, take yourself down to Yoshinoya, or one of several similar spots like Sukiya, and Matsuya, and try it out. You might like it!
Image : “Yoshinoya logo” by obtained from Yoshinoya.. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia. (Modified)
Image : “Yoshinoya Shop“. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons. (Modified)
Image : By jetalone from Higashi-Ginza, Tokyo (Flickr) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons. (Modified)