Remember that time I got paid to spend the entire summer in Japan in college (Camp Adventure, woot!) and gained like, 15lbs from drinking too much Peach Chu-Hi and eating WAY too many gyoza? I do.

Well there’s something else to blame for all the weight I packed onto my short little frame in 3 short months – Yoshinoya Beef Bowls. OH YES!

Yoshinoya is a fast-casual restaurant chain in Japan that’s famous for its beef bowls containing white rice and piles of thinly shaven, tender beef on top. Sounds weird – taste AMAZING.


They’re pretty much everywhere and you can get in and out in under 15 minutes, making it ideal for stopping in for a quick lunch, bite after work, nosh after the bars…

I was incredibly Japan-sick after I returned at the end of that summer, and vowed to recreate the dish I loved so much at home so I could have it anytime I wanted. Using only 6 low-fuss ingredients, I think I got pretty close!

Start by bringing beef broth, soy sauce or gluten-free tamari, mirin, and a little sugar to a boil.


This is mirin, by the way. It’s a Japanese cooking wine that you can get at any grocery store these days.


After the liquid is boiling, add in sliced onions.


Let them cook until they’re tender, about 5 minutes.


Finally, add in very thinly sliced beef loin. I’ve had my butcher do the slicing for me before, otherwise just pop the beef into the freezer until it hardens, then slice it. Unlike my thighs that summer, the thinner the better!

DSC_0150 DSC_0159

Since the beef is sliced so thin, it literally takes a minute to cook in the hot broth. It’s kind of like Pho in this way.


Pile the tender beef and onion slices over fluffy white rice, drizzle with some sauce, and you are set my friend!


Copycat Yoshinoya Beef Bowls


Copycat Yoshinoya Beef Bowls taste just like the popular fast food beef bowl recipe from Japan!


Serves 4

  • 1-1/3 cup beef broth
  • 5 Tablespoons soy sauce or gluten-free tamari (dish will not be GF if using soy sauce)
  • 3 Tablespoons mirin
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced
  • 1lb beef, sliced very thin (I used top sirloin)
  • white rice


  1. Bring beef broth, soy sauce, mirin and sugar to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat to medium and add onions. Cook until onions are tender, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add beef slices into the broth and cook until just barely done, about 1-2 minutes. Serve over white rice.


  • Tip: to slice beef or chicken thin, place into the freezer until nearly frozen, then cut.
  • Chicken version: substitute 1lb chicken breast for beef, use chicken broth instead of beef broth

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.


The sauce in this dish is so delicate. Neither salty, nor sweet – it is just right. Umami? Mixed with the melt-in-your-mouth beef and onions, I am sent straight back to the counter at my local Yoshinoya with just one bite.

DSC_0176 DSC_0179

Don’t fear, beef haters, this recipe tastes awesome made with chicken broth instead of beef broth, and using sliced chicken breast instead of beef. Throw some broccoli or edamame in there, and you’ll be in Heaven!


Ugh, now I kind of want to read Memoirs for a Geisha. My copy is completely tattered from reading it nearly 5 dozen times after I returned home from Japan at the end of that summer. It’s funny how you can build such a strong connection with a place in such a short amount of time. I could easily move there tomorrow and call it home!