Gyudonya is a quick serve, Japanese style diner on Robson street specializing in donburi rice bowls.
I came in here for a quick snack and ordered the short rib combo. It was pretty simple consisting of meat, some caramelized onions, lettuce and rice in a small bowl. But the marinated short rib strips were fairly tasty. Even the special salad with pineapple and kiwi that accompanied it was good, simple and fresh. Overall, you're not going to get blown away but the food was good and cheap for what it is. The service was quick and the inside was very clean. I think the meal cost 8.95 which included the rice bowl, miso, and a salad which is good value in my books.
I did not enjoy my experience at Gyudon Ya at all. The beef was stringy and chewy and served lukewarm and because it came out within seconds of my sitting down, I can only presumed it was pre-made and sitting under a lamp or pot :( the prices were reasonable but for the poor quality of meat you can really paying for a bowl of decent rice and pickles. The interior was clean and nice tho with a good window view for people watching but really, that's about it. Then on the way out, I overheard a male person whom I believe to be the owner speak to his staff, in Korean and not Japanese which totally meant this place is not authentic. Probably not returning anytime soon.
Look, as far as I know, this is pretty "low-end" food in Japan, akin to McDonald's, so don't be expecting anything fancy. Even though, I gotta give it to them, so far it is spruced up nicely and the service is top notch, far beyond what you'd expect at a fast-food joint.
What this is ... is basically a food-court stall out on the street. Honestly. They have only a few staple items, all variations on the same thing, a simple rice-bowl.
The beef bowl? Well, it sure doesn't look like the poster outside, let me tell ya. It's really, really, really, thinly sliced beef (of the fatty variety) and slapped on top of a bowl of rice. Also tried the short-rib bowl as well.
They taste okay, maybe better than food court food. I didn't feel sick after wards, not too greasy....
Look, it's cheap. It's $4.95 for the basic beef bowl and it'll fill you up good. Fine dining it ain't, I've whipped up better leftovers. I wouldn't _not_ recommend it, it's good for a lark now and then and it is cheap and it makes me feel better than a couple of Big Mac's. However, I would say perhaps Ebi-ten down the block is better, and the Kushi box next door is far more interesting.
As many have stated - this is another variety of fast food. In Japan, you go to a place like this, order, and the food comes within about 60 seconds. The beef is usually thinly cut brisket which has been slow-cooking for hours - not unlike a brisket from a western deli - but in this case in a soy/onion mix that is akin to teriyaki.
When I gave Gyudonya a try, I had the basic beef bowl as a 'meal' with the miso and pickles. Now, on some reviews (not necessarily here) I've read people complain the 'meal' deals were not worth it because it's just some pickles and miso. But I disagree - the miso soup had actual shiitake mushrooms and green onion. The pickles were daikon, cucumber, and some other type of greens. I would argue that there is more food value in those small sides than a container of re-processed potatoes formed to look like french fries, and a cup full of high fructose corn syrup and soda water.
So if you're looking for a quick lunch downtown, give the gyudonya a try for some Japanese fast food.
I love going to Gyu Don Ya! The service is often quick, the food is always tasty and hot, and the prices are inexpensive! I stumbled on this store by accident when they first opened up and have never regretted going in. The only downside is that inside can get quite squishy as their hall and seating area is very narrow, so if you have a large bag or are carrying a lot of items, it can be quite a challenge to get to a seat on the inside. But other than that, the food is good and I have recommended it to many other co-workers, friends and family visiting the downtown area.
I was craving a tonkatsu Japadog... just my luck, they were sold out of just about everything I wanted to eat when I walked in the door. Gyudonya was right next door and looked fairly busy, so I decided to try it out. The place was clean, neatly laid out, and we were attended to right away. We had a seat at the counter closer to the window, since the actual bar was almost full when we arrived. The server handled our order fast, and we got our food quite quickly too. The food itself is just average: the beef, while stringy, was balanced by the perfect bowl of rice with just the right amount of seasoning. I opted for the pickles, and although I was expecting saltier, more authentic Japanese pickles, they were okay. The miso soup the meal came with also had some wakame and mushrooms, which I always like, but otherwise there's nothing that differenciates the meal from every other decent Japanese restaurant. In all, it was just the kind of experience I was expecting: a cheap, speedy dinner with a meal that had no surprises. Actually, there was one surprise: Coke in glass bottles. It's expensive, but I've always preferred glass to aluminum cans, plastic, or watered down fountain pop.