by arnold on February 4, 2008

My dad got me hooked on Yoshinoya’s Beef Bowls when I was a kid in SoCal. We didn’t have any near our house, but some nights, my dad would come home from work with Beef Bowls in hand. I remember loving them so much that I would call him at work and beg him to bring some home for dinner.

In college, the Filipino club at CSUN was notorious for taking stacks of student newspapers and stripping them of every last Yoshinoya 2-for-1 coupon, and a steady stream of hungry Filipino Matadors would head down Reseda Blvd to get their Beef Bowl fix between classes.

Beef BowlThese days, Yoshinoya isn’t on my radar, mainly because they’re few and far between in the Bay Area, but when we ended up here the other night, I was a happy man. The Beef Bowl hasn’t changed a bit, it’s exactly the way I remember them, especially the rice that has soaked up some of the meat juices and is complemented with a bit of red pickled ginger. It’s a flavor that’s unique to Yoshinoya, and i love it.

To be honest, though, I wouldn’t get anything else at Yoshinoya except for the Beef Bowls. The menu is now unnecessarily complicated by combo meals, bento boxes, and desserts sealed in plastic. The chicken is decent, but the veggies have been gross for as long as I can remember. The combo meals come with a choice of salad (green, mac or potato) or dessert (cheesecake, chocolate, strawberry shortcake, flan….WTF?). My wife wanted to try a piece of shrimp tempura, just to see what they do with it, and it had been refried and smelled of old oil.

Honestly, this place deserves 3 stars…so why the high rating? Sometimes the reasons why you like a place have more to do with the memories than the actual food. A Beef Bowl will always remind me of a childhood epiphany that pointed me in the direction of Yoshinoya’s fatty, thinly sliced steamed beef served over rice in a styrofoam bowl. There’s a special joy that I get when eating a Beef Bowl that you might not relate to if you’ve just discovered Yoshinoya (like my wife). But even she concedes that the Beef Bowls are worth a trip back.

1790 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95050
408.260.0210 map
Web site

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Darya May 28, 2008 at 7:38 pm

I completely agree with how good Yoshinoya is and I still remember how good they tasted while living in Japan. It was the place to go when your money is running low and groceries were a problem. The concept of the bento boxes and combos aren’t actually new. In Japan, that is a Yoshinoya standard and their menu is more extensive than the ones in the US.

I recently moved to Seattle, and the first thing I did was look for a Yoshinoya in the States. Unfortunately, the closest ones were in CA…so that’s where I went. Yeah, missed it so much that I went all the way to CA just for Yoshinoya.


Paul June 30, 2008 at 10:48 am

Hey Arn, I look back fondly on our occasional trips to Yoshinoya when we lived in Van Nuys. Good times! I agree with you that the only think I would get are the beef bowls.


Ashtonian September 18, 2008 at 12:28 pm

We have one less than a mile away.
They’re delicious


jimmy September 27, 2008 at 12:54 pm

the yoshinoya in socal is totallyyyyyy different than the one in tokyo, japan. its insanely delicious!!

and the way the tokyo-ites eat their yoshinoya, hahaha~ they slurp up their rice with their chop sticks.

its an experience i’ll always remember while being in japan.

service is damn fast too :)


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