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Gyudon - Japanese Beef Bowls

Tender slices of beef and onion simmered in a sweet-savory sauce over a bed of steamed white rice. Gyudon is a popular Japanese comfort food and fast food for good reason--it's quick, delicious, and filling. This recipe makes about 4 bowls in 20 minutes.

When my husband and I took a trip to Japan in 2018, we were on a tight daily budget. I am a planner; I had an itinerary and budget for meals, souvenirs, entertainment, and even train fares. Unfortunately, we were not eating sashimi and Kobe beef every day.

I ain't mad about it though, because we had gyudon. It was the perfect dinner after a long day of exploring Tokyo: cheap, available everywhere, hearty, and consistently delicious no matter where we went. I don't think I ever spent more than 500¥ for a bowl (less than $5 USD). Gyudon came in clutch when I spent too much at the Studio Ghibli store or on knives at Tsukiji Market.

Gyudon has a delicious, special place in my heart. Thanks to Just One Cookbook, where I got the base of this recipe!


  1. 1 lb thinly sliced beef*, cut into 3-4 inch pieces

  2. 1 onion, thinly sliced

  3. 4 teaspoons sugar

  4. 3 tablespoons mirin

  5. 3 tablespoons sake

  6. 5 tablespoons soy sauce

  7. Steamed white rice, Japanese short-grain if you have it.

Optional Garnishes:

- Pickled red ginger

- Chopped green onions

- Soft poached egg

- Shichimi togarashi

*Look for shaved beef slices for shabu shabu, sukiyaki, or philly cheesesteaks. If you can't find thinly sliced beef, you can slice your own. Freeze a steak of top sirloin, ribeye, or something similar for at least 1-2 hours, or until the steak is firm but not fully frozen. Carefully slice the meat against the grain into 1/8 inch (or thinner if you can!) pieces.


  1. Whisk together the soy sauce, mirin, and sake.

  2. Sauté the onions in about a tablespoon of neutral oil until softened, about 3-4 minutes.

  3. Add in the beef slices one at the time to separate them and pour in the sugar. Cook on medium heat until the beef is browned and no longer pink.

  4. Pour in the soy mixture and lower the heat. Stir and cook for another 5 minutes.

  5. Serve in a bowl over steamed white rice and garnish!

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