Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls! Hungry students and budgeting businespeople! Have we got a great deal for you! Yoshinoya’s gyūdon beef bowls – made with the same USA beef, rice, onion and delicious marinade as ever – is available for just 250 yen!
This isn’t a special offer. This isn’t for a limited time only. This is 24 hours a day, seven-days-a-week wallet-friendly value. Available at a number of special Tsukiji Yoshinoya restaurants, for just US$3, you can have a big, hearty warming dish of rice and beef, guaranteed to warm your soul and fill you up until your next meal.
Our top dog Kuzo headed out to try the beef bowl for himself, and he can confirm that this is the same Yoshinoya grub that we know and love, for 130 yen ($1.60) less than normal!
- 250 yen gyūdon!!!
Usually priced at 380 yen, Yoshinoya’s regular-sized beef bowl is one of the more expensive among its gyūdon brethren. Yoshinoya Japan prides itself on using high quality ingredients and is confident that, while its food is ever so slightly more expensive than its competitors’s offerings, they won’t be beaten on qyality and taste.
But this really is the same dish that many of us know, love and fill up on once or twice a week in an effort to keep daily spending to a minimum. And it really is being sold for just 250 yen every single day of the year. What in the name of delicious cow on rice (sorry, cows) is going on!?
- Gyūdon Senbai-ten Tsukiji Yoshinoya
Now that’s a restaurant name we’d rather not say three times fast after a few beers! Meaning “beef bowl-exclusive Tsukiji Yoshinoya,” the restaurants are named after a branch set up in Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish-market district that sold nothing but beef bowls, forgoing yakiniku beef, pork, curry and the like entirely. With the menu limited to just beef bowls, miso soup and a few toppings like raw and half-boiled egg, the store keeps costs to a minimum and can pump food out like nobody’s business.
The special stores all operate under the banner of “Tsukiji Yoshinoya” and can be found dotted around Tokyo in locations like Edogawa and Itabashi, the latter being the location that our reporter Kuzo visited.
The Itabashi restaurant’s past transformations from regular Yoshinoya to soba noodle-exclusive restaurant and now operating as a “Tsukiji” branch suggest that the owners have struggled to make the business profitable, but its latest incarnation is already attracting a lot of attention and proving to be a hit with locals. Finding an open seat at the counter, Kuzo settled in to try the food out.
- The gyūdon we know and love
Despite the ultra low price, this really is the exact same beef bowl that is offered in every other Yoshinoya branch; no corners have been cut, nor are any of the ingredients inferior in quality or amount.
But don’t be fooled into thinking that this is some dollar store-style setup where every item is sold for the same price. The regular gyūdon bowl is, indeed, much cheaper than at normal Yoshinoya branches, but other menu items costs vary.
- Price comparison
Regular gyūdon (beef on rice): Tsukiji Yoshinoya price: 250 yen Regular Yoshinoya price: 380 yen Saving: 130 yen
Large gyūdon (beef on rice): Tsukiji Yoshinoya price: 400 yen Regular Yoshinoya price: 480 yen Saving: 80 yen
Beef plate (just the meaty goodness): Tsukiji Yoshinoya price: 200 yen Regular Yoshinoya price: 280 yen Saving: 80 yen
- No sets, no curry
Simple is best, but those of you accustomed to ordering a beef bowl meal that comes with side dishes will be disappointed. We’re so used to gesturing in the general direction of the menu and muttering “regular C set” that we actually found he process of ordering each item individually quite odd. There again, we nearly passed out when McDonald’s took the menus away from its counters, so perhaps we’re a little too well programmed.
There are set meals available 5-10 a.m., but even these are limited to tororo (grated yam) broth and natto (fermented soybeans that are very good for you but über stinky), so wave goodbye to breakfast favourites like pink salmon fillet…
- But the smile’s still present
This is Japan; regardless of whether the food is dirt-cheap, the staff still take their work very seriously, and you’re guaranteed to be waited upon like you just stepped off a royal jet and demanded a hot meal. During his visit, our reporter Kuzo said that he noticed no difference whatsoever between the budget Yoshinoya and regular high-street branches, and that people should definitely not be put off visiting by the thought of cut-price food.
If you happen to stumble across a Tsukiji Yoshinoya, consider yourself very lucky. Good, cheap food and typically great service await. The only question that remains now is what you’ll do with all the money you’ll save…
[ Read in Japanese ]