This is part of a series about eating on a budget and I've titled the series, "Japan Cheap Eats". Many people think Japan is expensive, but I'm here to prove them wrong! We found many budget options and I wanted to share them with you!
Just like most countries, Japan has many fast food restaurants. They have Mickey D's, Wendy's and my personal fave, KFC. You know me and fried chicken, we're soul mates. In addition to these places, they have even better options. They are on a completely different level when it comes to fast food, which isn't surprising, because it's Japan. Throughout the country, they have various gyudon shops. Gyudon literally means beef bowl and it's incredible. Delicious simmered beef and onions are served over white rice. The first gyudon place we visited was Matsuya in Kyoto and it was an awesome experience.
After an afternoon of hiking through Fushimi Inari Taisha, Markus and I were starved. Up to this point, we ate a lot of mart food and we wanted something a little more sophisticated. We scoped out a few places that were within our budget. We almost settled on some burger place, but then we happened to walk by Matsuya. It was like a beacon of light and we couldn't help but go in.
Places like Matsuya have everything down to a science and it's really efficient. The inside is set up like a diner and usually manned by one or two people. I think they wanted to limit as much human interaction as possible. You don't even order through the employees, but through a ticket machine. It's actually kind of cool. I liked that there wasn't any pressure to make an order right away, especially in a place where I don't speak the language. After we placed our orders, we sat down and gave the guy our ticket. He quickly whipped up our order and it was ready in less than 5 minutes.
The gyudon itself was really delicious and I enjoyed the flavors. The meat was both sweet and salty and was complimented by the rice. It's not going to win any awards, but it gets the job done. It's a great healthier alternative to burgers and fries. Overall, we both enjoyed Matusya and gyudon so much that we stopped at almost all the other similar shops. If you're in Japan, this is definitley a great budget eat and something that should be tried, even if it's to use the ticket machine to order your food!
Large Beef Gyudon Bowl: 480
Medium Beef Gyudon Bowl: 380
Miso Soup: free with beef bowl
TOTAL: 860 yen or $8.41