Japan Today

How to make a Japanese beef bowl in just five minutes

By Casey Baseel, RocketNews24

The beef bowl is essentially Japan’s equivalent to the American hamburger. Offered by inexpensive restaurants across the nation, the beef bowl, or "gyudon," as it’s called in Japanese, is a tasty, hot meal that’ll give you all the protein and carbs you’re craving without costing you much money or time.

But while you’re usually never far from a beef bowl joint in Japan, what if you live in a town or country that doesn’t have a Yoshinoya, Matsuya, or, most tragically of all, a mouth-watering Sukiya? No problem, because with this amazingly simple recipe, you can make your own Japanese-style beef bowl in just five minutes.

While we’d love to take the credit for this easy recipe, it actually comes from "Oishinbo," a manga that’s been highlighting culinary delights nonstop since 1983. Each chapter of the popular comic follows travelling reporter and gourmand Shiro Yamaoka as he enjoys yet another sublime delicacy. In one chapter, Shiro even steps into the kitchen to teach a boy who’s never cooked how to prepare gyudon.

We assume that the deliciousness of the resulting meal somehow brings the boy’s family closer together or resolves some other conflict, but we’re not sure. That’s because as soon as Yamaoka finished his explanation of how to make the dish, we dropped the manga and headed into the kitchen to try making it ourselves. After all, if a fictional pre-teen could manage it, how hard could it be?


Cooked white rice Thin-sliced beef Beef tallow Soy sauce Sake Nori (dried seaweed) Sansho (a type of crushed Japanese pepper)


  1. Scoop the cooked rice into a bowl. Crumple up a few strips of nori and sprinkle them over the rice.

  2. Since we’re going to be sautéing the beef in a frying pan, you’ll want it cut thin. As luck would have it, someone had just given us a pack of high-grade Kobe beef, but whatever thin-sliced beef you’ve got to work with will do fine. Melt a pat of beef tallow in heated frying pan, then toss in the beef and sauté it. Don’t add any of the other seasonings at this point, since we’re going to use them later.

  3. Once the beef is cooked, transfer it to the bowl, placing it atop the rice. Make sure to leave the drippings in the pan, though, because we’re going to use them as the base for our beef bowl sauce. Add two or three table spoons of sake to the pan along with a dash of soy sauce. Rub the rest of the tallow onto the pan, give everything a quick stir, and then pour the resulting mixture over the beef and rice.

  4. Finally sprinkle the sansho onto the beef. If you’ve never tried it before, it’s like a slightly earthy pepper with a touch of bitterness. If you’re after something a bit spicier, you can substitute "shichimi," Japan’s indigenous equivalent to cayenne pepper and another popular gyudon condiment.

  5. Finally, eat your delicious meal that took almost no time or effort to cook.

Altogether, it only took us 10 minutes to prepare the beef and sauce, and that’s including the time we spent taking photos of everything. If you’re not visually documenting the process, you could easily get your time down to five minutes, meaning that as long as you keep some rice and the other ingredients on hand, you can be enjoying great gyudon in less time than it takes to walk to the closest Yoshinoya, even if you live in Japan.

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- Tokyo Chikara Meshi Takes Beef Bowl to New Level -- Food Fight: We Compare Yoshinoya and Sukiya’s Pricey New Dishes -- Yoshinoya Beef Bowls for Just 250 Yen! Same Taste, Super Low Price!

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Brilliant! Another addition to my single-man's recipe files. Which lets me go out for other things, like Japanese girl-watching. No offense to the girls, but they're worth watching.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Too much work when I can go down the street and pay 500Yen for the same thing and not lift a finger.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Is sansho on gyudon a Kanto thing? I've never heard of it. It's beni-shoga down here. Interesting!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

That doesn't look particularly appetising - the beef looks like rubber.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Thunderbird 2 wrote, "That doesn't look particularly appetising - the beef looks like rubber."

I agree. It also won't taste as good as gyudon should. There is no dashi (stock make from kombu seaweed and dried bonito flakes) as a foundation here, and so there is no umami.

What a waste of Kobe beef.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

No onions? Yo shinny aid heavy on the onions

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I base my recipe on this - but substitute mirin for sugar: http://www.japanesecooking101.com/gyudon-recipe-beef-bowl/

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Sukiya hits the spot. Japanese cooking is way too difficult. You can grab decent gyudon @ most convenience stores too anyways.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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