Yoshinoya Gyudon Beef Bowls

First opening for business way back in 1899 (Meji period), Yoshinoya serves up one of Japan's favorite fast foods, beef bowl donburi known as gyudon. This is basically a bowl of Japanese rice topped with thinly sliced beef or pork, sauteed onions and a special Yoshinoya sauce (a soy, mirin, sake and dashi style broth). Most Yoshinoya restaurants are open 24 hours per day, a schedule not entirely common in Japan. There are of course, competitors in the beef bowl bonburi market, such as Tsukiya and Matsuya.

The fast food market in Japan is fairly large and although slightly smaller than Tsukiya, Yoshinoya is definitely one of Japan's major fast food players. Yoshinoya restaurants can actually be found in a few places in the USA, such as Los Angeles and New York City, as well as various other locations world wide. The menu at the American Yoshinoya locations varies a bit from the standard Japanese version. I am not certain, but i suspect that if you asked for a raw egg in a New York City Yoshinoya, you might get some funny looks, but raw eggs are a common Yoshinoya gyudon add-on here in Japan.

In my opinion, the best way to enjoy a nice steaming hot bowl of Yoshinoya gyudon, is to load it up with the free pickled ginger (a.k.a "gari", very similar to that that you may receive at a sushi restaurant) and shichimi togarashi, a seven spice pepper blend common in Japan. This is good eatin', especially on a cold Japanese winter night, and not too expensive at that.

A nice advantage to eating in the restaurant is the free Japanese tea. In Yoshinoya and similar restaurants in Japan, it is common for fresh pots of Japanese tea (hot in winter, cold in the summer) to be sitting out on the counter for all the customers to enjoy free of charge.

You can also order up another of Japan's favorite fast foods here, Japanese curry rice. I am not personally a fan of curry of any type, but it is definitely popular in Japan and frequently offered at donburi fast food restaurants.

You can check out the Yoshinoya corporate site to learn more.