Secret tips and beef bowls from the staff break room are now available to the public for a limited time.

How do you like to eat your gyudon? Do you just tuck in without giving a second thought to what you’re grabbing with your chopsticks? And what would you add to it to make it the beef bowl of your dreams?

These are questions our Japanese-language reporter Mr Sato had never really considered before, but when he heard that Japan’s beloved beef bowl chain Yoshinoya was releasing a secret menu to the public, it made him reconsider everything he thought he knew about beef bowls.

Yoshinoya’s new secret menu consists of “Ura Gyudon“, which translates to “hidden” or “behind-the-scenes” gyudon. The Ura Gyudon in this range shine a spotlight on makanai meshi, with “meshi” meaning “meal” and “makanai” being a term used to describe food made by staff for staff with ingredients on hand in the kitchen.

Makanai meshi are usually reserved for employees only and unavailable to regular diners, so the chance to try beef bowls eaten by staff at Yoshinoya is generating a lot of excitement amongst fans of the chain. And seeing as nobody knows Yoshinoya better than the employees themselves, staff have been sharing their tips on the best way to eat gyudon to coincide with the new menu.

“Start by eating a small piece of onion so you can test how good the sauce is. Then eat it as you normally would.” (man in his 50s)

“Eat only the beef first, to check the sweetness and strength of the sauce, then season it to your liking with the shichimi spice mixture.” (woman in her 50s)

“Eat it without toppings first to check the taste! Then eat the remaining half with toppings.” (woman in her 40s)

“Eat half the beef to check the taste. Eat a little rice to check the taste. When you’ve finished eating all the beef, mix in a soft-boiled egg and eat the rest.” (man in his teens)

Like a lot of people, Mr Sato usually just jabs his chopsticks into the bowl and happily eats whatever comes up without giving it a second thought. But after hearing these tips from Yoshinoya staff, he figured he should take their advice on board and try these techniques out in future to develop a masterful beef-bowl-eating technique of his own.

Yoshinoya’s new limited-time Ura Gyudon menu was created with input from 3,000 staff, who revealed the secret makanai meshi they eat out the back during break-time, hidden away from public view. The menu consists of four types of “Hidden Gyudon”, which promise to open your eyes to new flavour combinations recommended by staff and expand your horizons beyond your standard beef bowl order.

The first Hidden Gyudon is the Nikudaku Goma Dore Gyudon (Meaty Sesame Dressing Beef Bowl), which retails for 519 yen (US$4.88) plus tax.

Components : A normal gyudon + extra meat + sesame dressing
How staff eat it : Place extra sauce on a beef bowl, pour sesame dressing onto it in concentric circles, and mix the beef and sesame dressing well before eating .
Flavour : The tart sweetness of the sesame dressing adds depth to the flavour of the meat, creating a beef bowl with mellow, well-rounded flavour.

Next up is the Oshinko Tsukimi Tsuyunuki Gyudon (Pickles Moon [Egg] Broth-less Beef Bowl) for 519 yen plus tax.

Components : Regular Serving of Gyudon + Pickled Vegetables + Egg
How staff eat it : Place pickles on the gyudon and use an egg separator to separate the raw yolk from the egg white and place the yolk on top. Eat with a generous sprinkling of shichimi spice.
Flavour : This is how Yoshinoya’s current president, Yasutaka Kawamura, eats his beef bowls. The difference in temperature and texture between the beef bowl and the toppings is exquisite.

The third limited-time offering is the Neba Toro Gyudon (598 yen plus tax), which takes its name from its deliciously “neba neba” (“slimy”) and “toro toro” (“syrupy”) ingredients.

Components : Regular Serving of Gyudon + Natto + Okra + Grated Yam + Egg
How staff eat it : Mix everything together well until you get a beautiful sticky texture.
Flavour : The toppings are made up of sticky, energy-rich foods. It’s the perfect beef bowl for regaining energy or stamina.

The last secret beef bowl in the lineup is the Abochii Gyudon (598 yen plus tax), which takes its name from the main components of avocado and cheese.

Components : Regular Serving of Gyudon + Avocado + Cheese
How staff eat it : Be sure to get a well-balanced combination of beef, avocado, and cheese in every bite. If you want to melt the cheese well, move it under the beef.
Flavour : A perfect combination of beef and vegetable creates a beef bowl with unique richness and flavour.

Speaking from experience, Mr Sato highly recommends the secret beef bowl enjoyed by the company president, which he got to try last year, and he also loves the slimy textures of the Neba Toro Gyudon which he tried recently.

While staff usually make these beef bowls themselves, Yoshinoya is making them for you for a limited time until 4:00 p.m. on 4 October. So you’ll want to get in quick to try them all before they disappear back into the staff break room forever!

Even if you don’t have a Yoshinoya near you, you can always try making these special beef bowls at home, using this official recipe for the chain’s standard gyudon as the base. And if you’ve got a can of Yoshinoya gyudon handy, even better!

Photos © SoraNews24
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
[ Read in Japanese ]