Gyudon is a Japanese beef bowl consisting of thinly sliced fatty beef and onions in a lightly sweet mixture of mirin and soy sauce. Serve it over rice with a fried egg for a simple and delicious meal!
Note: This post was originally published on February 25, 2016. It has since been updated with metric measurements, clearer photos, and nutrition information. The recipe remains the same. Enjoy!
Now that I’m living in the New York City area, one of the things I miss most about my two years in Beijing is: lunchtime.
Every weekday at noon on the dot, there would be a mass exodus from office buildings across the city. Office workers spilled out into the streets to grab a meal.
Lucky for me, I worked in an area of the city where restaurants were abundant and extremely varied. I’d sit down to a bowl of hand-pulled noodles at a hideaway noodle bar on Monday, or head to a Yunnan Hot Pot restaurant on Tuesday.
Each week would be different. My coworkers and I would figure out our lunch plans in advance. (Sometimes even days before, which is perfectly normal behavior in Beijing, I’ll have you know.) There were even some awesome non-Asian options, like an Israeli place that had some of the best falafel I’ve ever tasted.
One of my absolute favorite lunch options, however, was a Japanese place that served the dish we’re talking about today: Gyudon.
What is Gyudon?
Gyudon (牛丼) is a savory donburi (rice bowl) dish of thin pieces of tender fatty beef, onions, and a sauce of mirin and soy, served over rice. Sake is also sometimes added for extra flavor. Gyu means beef, while don refers to the bowl.
At the place I went to in Beijing, the would serve it piping hot with a raw egg yolk on top.
That egg yolk?
Best. Thing. Ever.
It would warm up as you mixed it in with the hot beef and rice, imparting a richness to the dish that couldn’t be beat. (Not even by the beckoning call of hand-pulled noodles or Yunnan hot pot.) Needless to say, I frequented that particular spot at least once every couple weeks.
Now that I’m back in the States, where elaborate weekday lunches aren’t quite as easy on my wallet as they were in Beijing, I’ve been seeking to recreate some of my old favorites, and this Gyudon recipe is definitely one of them!
Just a few quick things to note before we go on to the recipe:
- You can find the thinly sliced beef here at many Asian grocery stores. People buy it to make hot pot at home. On the label, you may see the words, “for Hot Pot.” It’s also a little similar to the thinly shaved beef used in something like a Philly cheesesteak.
- You’ll also notice in this recipe that I decided to forgo the completely raw egg yolk, instead opting for a sunny-side up egg. This is the perfect way to get that runny yolk experience. (Even if you’re squeamish about the whole raw egg thing.)
- A rice cooker makes cooking rice a snap! If you don’t have one, check out our posts on how to cook rice without a rice cooker, and how to steam rice.
Okay, let’s start!
Gyudon Recipe Instructions
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium high heat, and cook the sliced onions for about 10 minutes, stirring often.
Add the beef and sugar, and cook until the beef is slightly browned.
Bring the liquid to a simmer, and cook for about 10-15 minutes to reduce the stock into a thin sauce. Taste for seasoning, and add a little more soy sauce if needed.
Meanwhile, heat another couple tablespoons of oil in a cast iron or non-stick skillet. Cook the eggs sunny-side up. You can cook them in batches if needed. The yolks should still be runny!
When the beef is done simmering, divide the rice (short-grain or medium-grain white rice is best for this) among 4 bowls, and top with the beef and an egg for each bowl. Garnish with chopped scallion (green onions) and toasted sesame seeds, if using.
Gyudon (Japanese Beef & Rice Bowls)
- Neutral oil (such as vegetable or canola oil)
- 2 medium onions (very thinly sliced)
- 1 pound very thinly sliced beef (fatty beef chuck or ribeye)
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons mirin
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 cup dashi stock (can also substitute beef or chicken stock)
- 4 eggs
- 4 cups cooked white rice (short grain or medium grain preferred)
- 1 scallion (chopped)
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds (optional)
- Heat the neutral oil in a large skillet over medium high heat, and cook the sliced onions for about 10 minutes, stirring often.
- Add the beef and sugar, and cook until the beef is slightly browned. Add the mirin, soy sauce, and stock. Bring to a simmer, and cook for about 10-15 minutes to reduce the stock into a thin sauce. Taste for seasoning, and add a little more soy sauce if needed.
- Meanwhile, heat another couple tablespoons of oil in a cast iron or non-stick skillet. Cook the eggs sunny-side up. You can cook them in batches if needed. The yolks should still be runny!
- When the beef is done simmering, divide the rice among serving bowls (the original recipe is for 4, so 4 bowls), and top with the beef and an egg for each bowl. Garnish with chopped scallion and toasted sesame seeds, if using.