Otaku NYC: Yoshinoya

UPDATE: NOW CLOSED :(

When you start watching anime you are often exposed to a world of food you may have never seen before. I remember watching Urusei Yatsura and learning about the world of Japanese fast food outside of WacDonalds as Ataru in the gang would cut classes to pig out at various junk food shops in Tomobiki. I found out that ramen was more than those Maruchan instant noodle packs and that there was a dish called gyudon, otherwise knows as beef bowl. When I found out there was a Japanese beef bowl restaurant chain in Manhattan I had to check it out. Yoshinoya is in the heart of tourist central at 253 W 42nd St between 7th Ave & 8th Ave so it is usually quite busy. As I understand it is even a bit of destination spot for Japanese tourists. In 2001 the mad cow scare hurt Beef Bowl sales and in 2003 Japan banned the import American beef. Since then the ban has been lifted but various politics have made American beef nowhere near as plentiful. So many Japanese tourists will stop into the New York Yoshinoya for a familiar brand with the guarantee of American beef in their gyudon.

I can only really tell you about the beef bowl at the Yoshinoya. For those who don’t eat red meat there is a Teriyaki chicken bowl as well as just a bowl with rice and vegetables for vegetarians. But I have never eaten those dishes. In my opinion it is like going to a steak house and having chicken. If your diet does not allow then eat what you must but otherwise when a restaurant has a signature dish that should almost always be your first choice. The beef is a thin cut that is stewed with onions in a lightly sweet broth. Then the stewed beef and onions is poured over a bed of rice. You can throw on spices as well as pickled ginger if you like. Overall it has a mild flavor.  It has a cheap but satisfying favor which is the goal of most fast food. As someone who does not like onions in general I was slightly surprised that I enjoyed them when they were stewed as they are. If you absolutely must try the chicken I would suggest to combo bowl that gives you a mixture of beef with chicken and vegetables. They also have soups, salads, and some sides to go along with the bowls and you can get a combo with a drink and desert.

Unlike several of the other places we have recommend Yoshinoya is not the best gyudon you are going to get in New York. The reason to go to Yoshinoya is the experience of eating Japanese fast food without having to fly to Japan. Unlike Donburiya which is a sit down affair Yoshinoya is a distinctly grab and go purchase. If you are only in New York once then I really suggest you try Go! Go! Curry. But if you make regular trips to New York it is a nice place to try to expand your fast food palate if you have such a thing.

As a side note when Narutaki and I were discussing this article she noticed two things. The first is that you don’t see people eating beef bowl like you used to in anime. It seemed like just something everyone ate in 80s and 90s anime. That and you don’t see people sitting down and just eating in general anymore. Both are strange trends. Is it not moe to eat beef bowl? But that is a topic for Narutaki to talk about another day.

5 thoughts on “Otaku NYC: Yoshinoya

  1. spankminister (@spankminister) says:

    A pallet is a flat platform used for transporting goods (like with a forklift)

    A palette is an array of colors used by an artist.

    A palate refers to someone’s sense of taste. Sorry, I see this one a lot.

    More on topic, I’d always seen Yoshinoya, but it always looked like generic stir-fry… Any word on how it compares with the ones in Japan? I ended up going to a Japanese McDonald’s once instead of Yoshinoya, and got a shrimp burger and teriyaki something. I regret nothing!

  2. Aiko says:

    Sorry guys. Yoshinoya no longer exists in the Eastern US. The last Manhattan restaurant (42nd Street) closed a while back, and as of 4/21/2012, the storefront is plastered with “Five Guys” advertising bills, and the interior is undergoing extreme renovation.
    You want Yoshinoya now, you either need to go to Asia, or in the USA, California, Nevada, or Arizona.

    Bummer.

    –Aiko

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