The Difference: Gyumeshi vs Gyudon Beef Bowls

“Gyudon (牛丼)” is one of the most popular varieties of “Donburi (丼: Japanese rice bowl dish)” in Japan and is often referred to as “Beef Bowl” in English-speaking countries.

In its name, the word “Gyu (牛)” literally means cattle in Japanese and refers to beef, while the latter “Don (丼)” is short (the suffix) for Donburi.

Gyudon is considered a kind of fast food in Japan where a number of Gyudon restaurant chains can be seen, which include “Yoshinoya (吉野家)”, “Matsuya (松屋)”, “Sukiya (すき家)”, and “Nakau (なか卯)”.

Among these restaurants, only Matsuya doesn’t have Gyudon on the menu but instead offers “Gyu-Meshi (牛めし: literally Beef Rice)”. 

Gyumeshi and Gyudon

Gyudon or Gyumeshi with Beni Shoga

Some people might think of Gyumeshi as what is different from Gyudon, but to get straight to the point, Gyumeshi and Gyudon are essentially the same things. The difference in name is related to history and Gyumeshi actually has a longer history than Gyudon.

Around the late 19th century, by covering white rice with “Gyunabe (牛鍋: Beef Hot Pot)”, in other words, with Sukiyaki, Gyumeshi, also called “Gyunabe Bukkake (牛鍋ぶっかけ)”, was created and became popular among the common people.

In 1899, Yoshinoya was founded and began to serve Gyumeshi, and it is said that the founder of Yoshinoya, Eikichi Matsuda gave it another name “Gyudon”. By the way, today in Japan, Gyudon has become a much more common word for Beef Bowl.

(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.

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