Gyudon From Yoshinoya and Sukiya and JAL Air Beef Bowl

I'm covering two of the larger gyudon or beef bowl chains in Japan in this post.  There are many more places to get beef bowl there.  Gyudon is a popular fast food dish that is healthier than some as it consists of stewed beef / onion in a slightly sweet/savoury sauce over a bowl of Japanese white rice.
Beef Bowl   Flickr / Jetalone
It is also relatively cheap compared to many other food options with prices often as low as 2 -3 dollars with coupons or when they have a promo.   There were pricing wars in the middle of the recession.  Prices fell to keep customers coming in.  They hoped that a customer who ate in once a week might come twice which means you also get a chance to sell more or upsell pricier products.  This business was also slammed by the Mad Cow scare around 2004 and later when the chains had to switch from cheap American beef to Australian beef or offer pork bowls instead.  Well, the beef is good again now, so let the good times roll again.  In anime, the students are often eating at these places and there are jokes about not taking your date to one of these joints.  As there are no beef bowl chains in my city, I make my own to get a fix.

Gyūdon (牛丼?), literally beef bowl, is a Japanese dish consisting of a bowl of rice topped with beef and onion simmered in a mildly sweet sauce flavored with dashi (fish and seaweed stock), soy sauce and mirin (sweet rice wine). It also often includes shirataki noodles, and is sometimes topped with a raw egg. A very popular food in Japan, it is commonly served with beni shōga (pickled ginger), shichimi (ground chili pepper), and a side dish of miso soup. Gyū means "cow" or "beef", and don is short for donburi, the Japanese word for "bowl".  From Wikipedia.

Yoshinoya (吉野家) is the largest chain of beef bowl (or gyūdon) restaurants and one of the Japanese chains of fast food, which was established in Japan in 1899. Its motto is "Tasty, low-priced, and quick"  From Wikipedia  This chain has aggressively expanded overseas and you find outlets in Singapore, Hong Kong, and many other countries including the United States.

In a previous blog article I also covered JAL inflight meals with MOS Burgers.  Well, this year they have a promotion with Yohinoya to offer air beef bowl.  "TOKYO, March 1, 2012: Japan Airlines (JAL) is collaborating with Yoshinoya Holdings - the largest chain of beef-bowl restaurants, to bring its trademark dish to customers on select international flights from today, March 1, 2012. For three months until May 31, 2012, customers traveling with JAL from Tokyo to New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, London and Frankfurt in every cabin class will be able to enjoy Air Yoshinoya - the JAL Original version of the establishment’s specialty beef-bowl. 
... Specially designed and packaged to be served onboard, the Air Yoshinoya box separates the beef from the rice until customers are ready to enjoy it. Considering the lower humidity in the cabin, Air Yoshinoya also comes with more sauce so that customers taste the same succulence as the beef bowl served in shops. Air Yoshinoya packaging and tray mats are original designs for this in-flight service while the beef, ginger, shichimi (seven-flavored spice) and pickles served are just as customers would find in all Yoshinoya outlets in Japan." JAL Press Release

Sukiya (すき家) is a Japanese restaurant chain serving gyūdon, other donburi, and curry. As of 2008, Sukiya has over 1000 restaurants throughout all 47 Japanese prefectures as well as six in Shanghai, China; two in Suzhou, China; and three in São Paulo, Brazil. Sukiya's owner, Zenshō Co. Ltd. (ゼンショー株式会社?), is listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange and had sales of ¥282 billion in 2007. ... Its slogan (printed in romaji outside the restaurant) is "save time and money". According to the publicity printed in English on the walls of the restaurant, it originated in Yokohama. From Wikipedia

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