Yoshinoya knows beef, but do they know what they’re doing with this French home-cooking staple?

With Yoshinoya being Japan’s most popular beef bowl joint, the chain has a lot of branches in Tokyo. Our Japanese-language reporter Seiji Nakazawa walks past multiple Yoshinoya restaurants a day, so many that they sometimes just kind of blend into the rest of the city’s scenery.

But the Yoshinoya in Tokyo’s Ogawacho neighborhood stood out and quickly caught his eye on a recent afternoon, because it was advertising a dish that Seiji had never seen offered by Yoshinoya before, and what’s more, it was already on sale.

“Miroton” says the katakana script on the poster, referring to beef miroton. This isn’t a Japanese dish, though, but rather a type of traditional French cuisine. Originally developed as a way for home chefs to make use of leftover meat, in orthodox beef miroton the beef is cooked for a second time with vegetables in a stock of tomato and vinegar.

Seiji had never eaten, or even heard of, the dish, but given Yoshinoya’s excellent track record with beef bowls, he decided to give their beef miroton a shot. So he stepped into the restaurant, took a seat, and ordered a plate for 657 yen (US$4.50).

Taking a look at it, his first thought was that it looked kind of like curry, but with a color more red than brown. Along with beef and sliced onion, there were also sliced pickles in the mix, which was served with white rice.

The consistency of the sauce was smooth, but not as thick as curry roux. Taking a bite, the red color turned out to be foreshadowing for a strong tomato flavor with pronounced tartness. This gave way to a clean, refreshing finish that hit the spot on a hot summer day.

According to Yoshinoya, they decided to start serving beef miroton based on the popularity of their Hayashi rice. Hayashi rice is a Japanese dish with a red wine/tomato demi-glace sauce that people in Japan have been enjoying for generations. While Hayashi rice isn’t always on the menu at Yoshinoya, whenever it comes back for a stint it’s a big seller, and with the similarities to beef miroton, Yoshinoya wants to see if the French dish will be as warmly welcomed.

▼ The poster even calls beef miroton “France’s Hayashi rice.”

With this being Seiji’s first-ever experience with beef miroton, Seiji can’t comment on how authentic it is, or how it stacks up flavor-wise against beef miroton in France. Judged on its own merits, though, he thinks it’s great, and could easily see himself ordering it regularly when he’s eating at Yoshinoya.

However, right now Yoshinoya’s beef miroton is still in its testing stage, available at less than two dozen branches in east Japan and only for a limited time, which explains why Seiji hadn’t noticed it on the menu at other Yoshinoya locations. The company doesn’t appear to have put out a complete list of participating branches, but the one that Seiji found it at isn’t far from Akihabara and Kanda Stations, two parts of Tokyo that Seiji spends a lot of time in. Beef miroton is scheduled to be on the menu until mid-September, after which Yoshinoya will decide whether or not to expand its availability based on customer reactions during the test period.

Restaurant information
Yoshinoya (Ogawamachi branch)/ 吉野家(小川町店)
Address: Tokyo-to, Chiyoda-ku, Kanda Ogawamachi 2-2
Open 4 a.m.-2 a.m.

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