The Difference: Yakiniku Don vs Gyudon

“Donburi (丼)”, literally meaning “bowl”, is the Japanese word for “rice bowl dish”, and when used in the name of the dish, it is usually abbreviated to “Don (丼)”, like “Kaisen-Don (海鮮丼)”, “Katsu-Don (カツ丼)”, and “Gyu-Don (牛丼)”.

Among others, Gyudon is especially well-recognized overseas and is commonly referred to as “Japanese beef bowl” in English-speaking countries.

Actually, in Japan, there is a popular donburi dish very similar to Gyudon, which is called “Yakiniku-Don (焼肉丼)”.

Yakiniku Don (Donburi) vs Gyudon beef bowl

As you can guess by now, this article is the continuation of the previous post!

As I wrote in it, “Yakiniku (焼肉: grilled meat)” is a Japanese barbecue (BBQ) dish where various portions of sliced beef and pork are grilled on a gridiron or griddle by diners themselves at the table.

Then, what is Yakiniku Don? and further, how does the donburi dish differ from the Japanese beef bowl Gyudon? For people who don’t know, this article will explain that.

Yakiniku-Don (焼肉丼)

Yakiniku Don (Donburi)

First, Yakiniku-Don is a donburi dish consisting of a bowl of steamed plain rice topped with grilled Yakiniku meat.

The meat prepared for Yakiniku Don is usually thinly sliced beef or pork that is not greasy (e.g. pork shoulder chops), but small chunks of chopped beef and pork can also be used in Yakiniku Don.

Unlike Gyudon, the meat for Yakiniku Don is first grilled or pan-fried, then dressed with the sauce called “Yakiniku no Tare (焼肉のタレ: sauce meant for Yakiniku)” and placed on a bowl of rice.

Supermarkets in Japan usually carry various varieties of ready-made Yakiniku no Tare sauces, so the donburi dish, Yakiniku Don is basically very easy to prepare.

Gyudon (牛丼)

Gyudon with Beni Shoga

As you may know, Gyudon is a donburi dish consisting of a bowl of white rice topped with chopped or thinly sliced beef and onion simmered in a mildly sweet soy sauce-based dashi sauce, often garnished with red pickled ginger called “Beni Shoga (紅生姜)“.

Unlike Yakiniku Don, the meat prepared for Gyudon is limited to beef as the word “牛 (Gyu)”, also pronounced as “Ushi (牛)”, is the Chinese character or Kanji for “cow”.

Hence, before being placed on a hot bowl of rice, the beef for Gyudon is simmered with onions and other ingredients, such as Shirataki, in a mildly sweet sauce typically made from soy sauce, dashi stock, and mirin.

In Japan, Gyudon is a more casual, common dish than Yakiniku Don, and is offered as a fast food by a number of Gyudon restaurant chains including “Sukiya (すき家)”, “Yoshinoya (吉野家)”, and “Matsuya (松屋)”.

The donburi dish is also known as “Gyumeshi (牛めし, 牛飯)“, by the way.

(Reference Page: Wikipedia 牛丼 )


Hi, I'm Tomo, a Japanese blogger living in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. For the purpose of enriching your life, I would like to introduce things about Japan on this blog, especially unique Japanese products, cooking recipes, cultures, and facts and trivia.

4 Responses

  1. Novia says:

    Hi Tomo-san…
    Thank you for your article. Its so very helping me when i will start to open my rice bowl outlet. So very thankful… Hot regard from Indonesia

  2. Glow Glitter says:

    Glad to read ur explanation on the difference between gyudon and yakiniku don as I’ve been confused for a while after developing a liking for the gyudon dish at Sukiya Singapore. I enjoyed reading your post as I learned a little more abt donburi in Japan.

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