Our overseas correspondent’s first experience with Japan’s beef bowl king.

Our Indonesia-based correspondent Aqil Rahmansyah is full of enthusiasm for learning about Japan. For example, when his university in the city of Malang held a festival celebrating otaku culture, he was on campus for the day to document it.

But recently Aqil became aware of a gap in his Japan-related experience list: he’d never eaten at Yoshinoya.

With summer vacation not here yet, Aqil isn’t in a position to hop on a plane to Japan and rectify this problem. Luckily, though, Yoshinoya has branches in Indonesia, including three in Malang, and so Aqil headed to the one inside his local shopping mall to get a taste of Japan’s gyudon (beef bowl) king.

The large signage above the entrance proudly proclaims “JAPAN’S No. 1 Beef Bowl” (yes, with that exact capitalization), with a smaller sign adding “Since 1899” and “Original Recipe.”

▼ The interior design has some Japanese appeal too.

However, Indonesian Yoshinoya branches make sure their ingredients and cooking methods conform with halal dietary rules, since the majority of the country’s population, Aqil included, is Muslim.

In addition to traditional gyudon, there are a couple of items on the menu that you won’t find in Japan. For example, the set meal that Aqil ordered for 24,545 rupiahs (US$1.70) consisted of a beef bowl, a glass of green tea, and an assortment of fried seafood, the last of those being something not available at Japanese Yoshinoya branches.

For the beef bowl itself, you can choose from “original beef” (the standard Yoshinoya seasoning ), yakiniku beef (periodically available at Yoshinoyas in Japan), and the Indonesia-only black pepper beef.

Aqil eventually settled on the yakiniku beef, and after a short wait, Aqil’s food was ready, so let’s turn it over to him for his impressions of his first-ever Yoshinoya experience.

There’s so much beef that it completely covers the rice, and it looks like it’s got plenty of marinade. The strips of meat are kind of thin, but I guess that’s the style for Japanese beef bowls?

Let’s try a bite…it’s great! The flavorful marinated beef goes great with the white rice, and the meat is tender and juicy. It’s sooo good!

For the mixed seafood, I started with the crab cream croquette. The breading is nice and crisp, and the inside creamy. It’s delicious, and if you squeeze it a little with your chopsticks the cream will start to overflow.

Next is the “Mix Seafood Coin.” I guess they call it that because it’s round, like a coin? Anyway, this is great too, like a little seafood croquette.

And last, a fried shrimp. This was outstanding too. Crisp on the outside, but tender inside. Eating this together with the beef from the gyudon was amazingly good.

On the same plate as the seafood were some carrots and pickles of some kind, with a sauce kind of like mustard. The pickles were great.

And to wash it all down, the cold green tea. It really is the best drink to pair with Japanese food.

As Aqil’s words, and his cleaned plates, show, it only took one Yoshinoya meal to make him a fan. With no shortage of pre-existing beef bowl fans on the SoraNews24 staff, we’re happy to welcome him to the club, and maybe next time he’s in Japan we can take him to try out Yoshinoya’s first new sister chain in several years, “Prisoner of Short Ribs.”

Photos © SoraNews24
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