Yoshinoya - The Favorite Japanese Fast Food

The History of Yoshinoya in Japan

Anyone who has gone to Japan probably knows that a specific restaurant sells the best and fastest beef bowl in the entire country. This restaurant is none other than Yoshinoya – one of the most popular fast food chains in all of Japan.
Yoshinoya, quite interestingly, was established in 1899 and the original branch was built in the Nihonbashi fish market of Tokyo. There are a number of milestones in the timeline since the first store of Yoshinoya opened. One was that in 1926, it moved to the Tsukiji Fish Market (now known as the flagship restaurant) because the original store was devastated by the Great Kanto Earthquake. More than 25 years later in 1952, they opened up their first 24-hour branch.
However, it was only in 1965 when the company started expanding throughout Japan where the first franchise store was opened three years later. Then, the expansion did not just stop outside of Tokyo. The company started to expand outside of the country and opened up their first international store in Colorado in 1975. Since then, Yoshinoya has been continuously expanding. There may be some ups and downs, but they still continue to prevail.


The Symbol and Importance of Yoshinoya in Japan

The word “Yoshinoya” actually came from the kanji characters that means ‘old’ and ‘field’. Although the name does not necessarily equate to the food that they serve, the name Yoshinoya still plays an important role in the popularity of the fast food chain. Actually, the founder of the restaurant chain lived in a town known as Yoshino. The original inspiration of the name Yoshinoya is actually Yoshinoya no gyudon, which means Yoshinoya’s beef bowl. Later on, the name Yoshinoya no gyudon became just Yoshinoya.
“Tasty, Low-priced, and Quick” – this is the motto of the famous fast food chain and quite impressively they do provide tasty, low-priced and quick meals. It became so popular not only in Japan but other places in the world as well. They have branches in South East Asia and in the US as well.


Japanese food is known to require excellence, delicate hands, intricacy, and knowledge. Most Japanese dishes require a good sense of practice and expertise. Most of all, they require time. However, that does not put a stop to great minds who find ways to provide great Japanese food in the fastest time possible.
Japanese fast food does not always just equate to sushi and sashimi – or any kind of raw dish for that matter. There are good places in Japan that still offer up a full meal with Japanese dishes.
Anyone that hears the word Yoshinoya would know that it is strongly synonymous to ‘beef bowl’. It plays an important role in giving a name to Japanese-styled fast food. This is the best place to eat a quick lunch for anyone trying to get the most of traveling around the country.
Yoshinoya Through the Years: The Dreaded Beef Recall and the Dreaded Competition
It was in the 2000s when Yoshinoya hit a low point. The mad cow incident that has spread throughout the world has greatly affected their sales and has definitely closed down some shops. The country has suspended importation of American beef. The flagship bowl of Yoshinoya was taken off the menu. Since it first opened in the late 1800s, it was the first time that Yoshinoya did not serve their famous beef bowl.
Now that it has lost its identity, the fast food chain had a hard time keeping the interests of the customers. It went on survival mode by adding beef yakiniku in their menu, instead of serving American beef they started serving Australian beef. The great thing is that in 2006, the famous beef bowl was revived. The people cheered and lined up on the streets. Almost all Yoshinoya stores had to cater to hundreds of hungry, yet excited, customers that had waited hours in line just to get another taste of the revived gyudon bowl.
To top that off, Yoshinoya was budging newly sprouted restaurant chains that offer up almost the same menu as the typical Yoshinoya Branch. One example would be the Matsuya whose service is preferred by a number of foreign nationals. Unlike Yoshinoya branches, Matsuya branches have machine enabled counters that will require very minimal human interaction. For a number of foreign nationals, this kind of service is what they prefer because it lowers the side effects of the language barrier.

Where to Find Yoshinoya


As discussed, it was in the ‘60s when the company started expanding outside of Tokyo and it was in the ‘70s when they first started expanding internationally. Now, there are over a hundred Yoshinoya stores worldwide, each of which has a special portion of their menu.

Yoshinoya local to Japan

There are a number of restaurants all over Japan with a high concentration of branches in Tokyo. There are branches in Shibuya and Harajuku. Another of the most popular Yoshinoya branches would be the store opened in Osaka, a hot bowl of rice with a generous serving of thin beef is always great during the cold days of December. There are branches in Ginza, Tsukiji, Yurakucho, and more.

Yoshinoya Japan - English Takes over the world

The delicious flavors of Yoshinoya that has been filling the hungry tummies of the Japanese for over a century have spread out all over the world. There are branches in countries such as China, Malaysia, Philippines, Cambodia, Thailand, Singapore, and even Thailand. On western shores, they have a number of stores in the US.

The Menu: Food in Yoshinoya

Yoshinoya Japan English Menu

The Japanese menu originally just serves the standard, signature beef bowl. This serves thinly prepared beef in soy sauce topped with caramelized onions and sesame seeds. This is the most popular dish ordered on a daily basis. However, there are still special parts of the menu that are specific only to branches all over Japan.
One is the namimori, which is a large serving of beef and pork bowls. It is a part of the menu that serves sizes slightly larger than the standard. Other special portions in the Yoshinoya Japan English Menu would be the Butadon that serves raw eggs. There is also unadon, which are eel bowls that are served by the season in the month of July every year.
In the latest news, just starting February of 2017, Yoshinoya has included the fried chicken on their menu. They now have Karaage bowls special only to the Akihabara branch. This place in Akihabara is one of the fanciest looking branches in all of Japan.
Meals usually are served about 490 yen in a standard bowl. For special additions like Tamago, teriyaki sauce, and mixed toppings, the price can go up to 550 yen. The good thing is that the price is certainly worth it and so affordable that they actually target students with their student set meals.

Yoshinoya Menu in different parts of the world

Hong Kong

In 1991, a division of the Yoshinoya company was been established in Hong Kong. Now more than 20 years later, there are more than 50 branches of Yoshinoya throughout the country, making it one of the most popular fast food chains in the region. Among the most popular places to go are the 14 Hong Kong branches, 21 New Territories branches, and 22 Kowloon branches.
In this country, the advocacy of the company is to provide healthy and affordable food to their customers. Because of this, the main menu was transformed to meet special meal plans which are meant to satisfy weight-watchers and health-conscious clients. 
Other than the regular beef bowl, there are special bowls that the Hong Kong menu has to offer. These include the sumo vegetable beef hot spring, vegetable beef hot spring egg bowl, and the vegetable chicken bowl. They also offer chicken kelp udon and the dine-in only tobiko salmon flakes bowl.


There are Yoshinoya branches in the different states of America. There is one in California, Denver, Nevada, and Arizona. There was also a short-lived branch in Texas. Outside of this region of America, there is one branch located in New York City.
These branches offer up the signature beef bowl of Yoshinoya but they have offered up additions to the favorite bowl that will surely satisfy its western clientele. Among the most popular are the chicken bowl, bbq-styled plates, and the tempura bowls. Basically, for all the menu served throughout the country, the image that is being portrayed is “anything over a bowl of rice”.

Yoshinoya Japan Restaurant Must knows

Yoshinoya Price in Japan

As said in their company motto, they aim to serve quick and affordable food that will not compromise the taste of their famous beef bowl. Impressively, they have succeeded in focusing on a market filled with students through their student meals. The cheapest bowl served in Yoshinoya costs roughly around 290 yen. Putting the bowl together with miso soup and egg the total cost will only be about 420 yen – still an affordable price overall.

Yoshinoya Japan Breakfast

Unlike other fast food chains that offer up a specialized menu in the morning, not all Yoshinoya stores have breakfast meals. Most of their services focus on the gyudon, it could be made even more like a breakfast meal with the addition of certain side dishes like sunny-side up eggs and the like.

Yoshinoya Japan Hours

The interesting thing about Yoshinoya and other restaurants in Japan is that they have special menus for every time of the year. Known as seasonal menus, these are usually food items that are added to the standard list for a certain duration every year. For instance, Yoshinoya offers up special drinks and shakes during the summer time until the early autumn time in October. There are also special dishes that use seasonal creatures like seafood and the like. There are other dishes that have seasonal fruits and flavoring – it all depends on the location of the branch and season of the year.

Yoshinoya Japan Opening Hours

A number, if not all, Yoshinoya stores in Japan are opened 24-hours in a day. This means that they serve a hot bowl of rice topped with thinly sliced beef any time of the day. This is great for employees who go out of work quite late or any traveler with a late or early flight. It is a great place to get a quick snack or meal any time of the day.
Yoshinoya Japan Review
Being one of the only fast food chains in the country that serve Japanese dishes, Yoshinoya has surely received a number of good and bad reviews through the years. A number of customers are surprised that a century old, simple Japanese beef bowl will reach international franchise levels.
A lot of customers have exclaimed that Yoshinoya is the best place to go for all tourists who are busy running around the city. It serves good, yet very fast food. Commonly reviewed as a “snappy snack place”, Yoshinoya may not be at the level of Michelin starred restaurants but they certainly have a way to satisfy their clients The best aspect about this restaurant is that they offer very affordable meals to their clients. For many, it is the side dishes of pickled radish, bean sprouts, and the like that made it a great deal.
The thing about this is that there is a total of three different gyudon shops in Japan right now. Because of service related issues, it seems that Yoshinoya is struggling to beat the other stores. However, when it comes to the flavor and taste, Yoshinoya can easily beat them fair and square.
For a fast food chain, it is quite unique because they go beyond the standard burger, fries, and pizza combinations. They offer up photo-level Japanese rice bowls that will surely tickle any one’s taste buds. For those that wish to try interesting flavors, the special seasonal menu of Yoshinoya is great.