Yoshinoya sells frozen beef bowl topping packs, but are they as good as the restaurant kind?

We taste test both offerings from Japan’s gyudon god, and find a key difference.

A little over a month ago, we found out that Yoshinoya, Japan’s most popular beef bowl restaurant chain, also offers its flagship dish in a canned version. That’s not the only way to enjoy Yoshinoya in a convenient, long-term-storable format, though.

Yoshinoya also sells frozen gyudon, as beef bowls are called in Japanese. Well, technically the pouches contain gyudon toppings of simmered sliced beef and onions, and you supply your own rice. The company boasts that the contents are flash frozen immediately after cooking, helping to preserve the flavor customers know and love from their experiences eating inside Yoshinoya restaurants across Japan.

To test that claim, we decided to compare the frozen Yoshinoya to an order of gyudon toppings (yes, you can order them without the rice) which we picked up to-go from a local Yoshinoya branch.

Obviously, the first thing we had to do was heat up the frozen beef bowl toppings, which you do by placing the pouch inside a pot of boiling water for five minutes. One that was done, we laid out both the frozen and restaurant-bought Yoshinoya on identical plates, and saw that the ingredient themselves look pretty similar.

In the above photo, the restaurant-bought Yoshinoya is on the left, while the frozen version is on the right. The frozen version does have noticeably more marinade/broth, though, and is a little lighter in color.

▼ Restaurant

▼ Frozen

Next, we put our two meals on a scale, learning that the restaurant version weighed in at 111 grams (3.9 ounces), while the frozen was a heftier 133 (inclusive of their identical plates). This is probably due to

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