A popular fast-food dish in Japan, gyudon is a quick-simmered mixture of thinly sliced beef and crisp-tender onions cooked in a sweet soy broth that’s seasoned with fresh ginger. It’s perfectly suited to weeknight cooking because it requires minimal prep, a short ingredient list and less than 30 minutes of active cooking. Gyudon owes its popularity to Yoshinoya, Japan’s first fast-food chain, which was founded in Tokyo in 1899 and became wildly successful in the 1960s serving just this dish. Variations abound — this recipe borrows heavily from the chef Ivan Orkin’s recipe, as well as one featured in “Simply Bento” by Yuko — and while some skip the use of dashi, a Japanese stock using bonito flakes and seaweed, the ingredient gives the dish a slight funk that offsets the sweetness of the mirin, sake and ginger. The flavor is subtle, but it’s missed when absent.
  • Total:
  • Serves: 4 persons



  1. Step 1

    Cut beef crosswise into 2 pieces, then set your beef in the freezer for at least 1 hour to freeze until firm. Once the beef is very firm, slice it very thinly against the grain, ideally about 1/8-inch thick. Set aside at room temperature.
  2. Step 2

    Bring 1 1/4 cups water to a boil in a large skillet. Whisk in instant dashi until combined.
  3. Step 3

    Add the soy sauce, sake, mirin and sugar, stir to combine, and boil over high until flavors meld and mixture starts to reduce, about 8 minutes. Add the sliced onion and cook over medium until onion just starts to soften, about 5 minutes.
  4. Step 4

    Stir in the beef and cook, turning the sliced beef frequently using tongs, until beef is just barely cooked and loses any traces of pink, about 3 minutes. Stir in the fresh ginger and cook for 1 more minute.
  5. Step 5

    Divide rice among bowls and top with beef mixture and any juices. Serve with pickled ginger and sprinkle with togarashi, if desired.