They supply the beef, you supply the bowl.

Yoshinoya’s signature menu item, gyudon, is called a beef bowl in English. That’s pretty much a literal translation from the Japanese, with gyu coming from gyuniku/”beef” and don from donburi/”bowl.”

But it turns out Yoshinoya makes gyudon in a pouch too! Available through the company’s online store, the gyudon topping pouches are individual-sized servings of the simmered strips of beef and onion found in one of Japan’s favorite comfort foods.

The gyudon pouches ship frozen, and the bag itself is microwavable. Just pop it in, close the door, and let it cook for three minutes.

You’ll need to prepare some rice separately (or not, as we’ll explain a little later on), but once you’ve got rice and topping both ready, just tear open the pouch and pour out the contents.

As soon as our beef bowl was assembled, we found it looked pretty much exactly like what you get in a Yoshinoya restaurant, and the enticing aroma was also a perfect match. Most importantly, the pouch gyudon tastes great too, with our taste tester Chibiko noticing no discernable difference compared to what she’s eaten at Yoshinoya branches.

Aside from the convenience of being able to keep a stock of Yoshinoya gyudon toppings in your freezer and have them ready to eat in just a few minutes, these beef bowl pouches let you put your own spin on the classic gyudon. For example, we decided to replace the customary white rice with genmai (brown rice) for our lunch. You could also do away with rice altogether and put the gyudon toppings on noodles, or even on a baguette for a fusion sandwich if you were so inclined. Alternatively, you could stick with the orthodox white rice, but add other toppings, like extra vegetables.

The Yoshinoya pouches can be ordered online here, with first-time buyers eligible for a discount that gets you seven pouches for 2,980 yen (US$29) (regular price 2,480 yen for five pouches). As long as you keep the frozen, they’ll stay good for over six months, and having extras means we can now try to recreate the Yoshinoya ramen that’s only available at one place in Japan in the comfort of our own kitchen.

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