This isn’t your average fast food! Gyutaro’s Idishes epitomize Japan’s casual dining scene.
A no-fuss meal served in a handy container
In Japan, there is a wildly popular casual food culture. Often called B-kyu gurume, or “B-class gourmet” (B級グルメ), it’s a style of dining that many Japanese enjoy on a daily basis: unpretentious, inexpensive, local—and, most of all, delicious. Gyūdon, or beef bowl rice (牛丼), is a prime example of what B-class gourmet is all about. Imagine thinly sliced pieces of fatty beef, which are pan-fried with onions and served on top of white rice. Lucky for us, this local favourite is available right here in Toronto!
Gyutaro is Toronto’s go-to spot for authentic gyūdon, mastering both the authentic flavour and casual atmosphere of any gyūdon chain in Japan. In addition to a bowl of basic gyūdon for $7, you can add raw egg, curry or cheese for an extra $1. I opted for a basic bowl and asked the owner for a few other recommendations. Shortly after ordering, my bowl of gyūdon arrived along with side orders of fried chicken ($5) and fried onigiri ($2).
The beef was thinly cut and very tender, while the onions brought out a subtle sweetness and the beni-shōga (red pickled ginger, 紅ショウガ) gave it a kick of spice. Best of all, the rice was perfect for soaking up the flavourful ta-re (sauce, タレ). The fried chicken and the fried onigiri certainly held their own against the gyūdon: the chicken was crispy and deep-fried to perfection, but not greasy or heavy. Similarly, the fried onigiri had a light crunch from the spicy sauce on top. Impressively, though not surprisingly, I learned that the chefs had over 10 years of experience working in gyūdon chains in Japan, and they ensure that the quality is both authentic and consistent.
As I enjoyed my meal, I looked at the cheery red walls and realized that Gyutaro’s casual atmosphere was the perfect backdrop to its cuisine. Long, shared tables and high chairs mixed with a few private tables give the restaurant a relaxed, communal vibe. Although the service was prompt and friendly, leaving tips is not recommended (a common practice in Japan). What I came away with was a simple meal that made me feel good inside and out. Stomach full, wallet happy and feeling thankful: this was comfort food at its B-kyu finest.
Staff: Rondie Li
A Japanese food, literature and arts enthusiast, Rondie is passionate about the authenticity and creativity behind Japanese culture. He appreciates good food in any form and also enjoys cooking and experimenting in his kitchen at home. He loves cats, photography, vintage sunglasses and wearing fun socks with his oxford shoes.