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Gyutandon (Beef Tongue Rice Bowl)

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Quick and delicious Gyutandon made from chewy soy sauce flavored thinly sliced beef tongue served over a bowl of steaming rice.

gyutandon beef tongue rice bowl

Have you ever heard about Gyutandon? Or have you tried it? Gyutandon is a beef tongue rice bowl dish whose popularity has increased lately in Jakarta, Indonesia. And since so many people raved about it, I got excited to try it myself.

gyutandon beef tongue rice bowl

The menu is made from thinly sliced beef tongue stir-fried in garlic, soy sauce, and other seasonings. Then, it is finished with chopped chilies and scallions. It was super easy and only takes minutes to make this dish because all you need is to stir-fry the ingredients straight to the frying pan. 

The taste is surprisingly so good. The beef tongue is soft and chewy at the same time and tastes bold with soy sauce flavor with a nice kick from the chilies. And since I love beef tongue, I prefer this dish over the traditional gyudon because of its unique chewy texture. If you make the recipe, let me know how it goes for you.

What Is Gyutandon?

Gyutan (牛タン) is a combination of the Japanese word for “cow” (gyu) and the English word “tongue” (tan). Meanwhile, don (丼) literally means “bowl”. Therefore, gyutandon is cow tongue served over a bowl of rice.

The custom of cooking gyutan originated in Sendai in 1948. It was initially considered a rather unusual dish but gradually gained popularity throughout Japan around the 1950s, partially because white-collar workers who were transferred from Sendai spread its reputation to other cities. Word started to spread about Sendai’s delicious gyutan throughout Japan. That’s how Sendai is now known for its gyutan.

gyutandon beef tongue rice bowl

The Best Cut for Gyutandon

For this recipe, you will want the back half part of the beef tongue. You will usually find that the back half tends to be more tender and easier to chew, while the front half of the tongue meat tends to be chewier and has more of a bite to it. The beef tongue needs to be cut into paper-thin slices or they will be too chewy.

How Does Gyutan Taste Like?

At first, the thought of eating an animal’s tongue might make you squeamish. It is probably because of how it looks, but I think you are missing the good stuff if you have never tried it. If you are interested in trying out a new cut of meat, cow tongue could be for you. It may look pretty unsavory, but it apparently tastes super good and could be an interesting enhancement to your normal meat dishes.

It tastes similar to other cuts of red meat but it tastes fatter and milder. Once you take a bite, you will notice it has a chewy texture that differs from steak or any kind of meat because the cow tongue is full of muscle. It is not that tender, yet it is not that though. It is just right in the middle.

gyutandon beef tongue rice bowl

More Quick and Easy Japanese Meals

While you are here, don’t forget to check out also these quick and easy Japanese meals.

gyutandon beef tongue rice bowl
4.9 from 8 votes

Gyutandon (Beef Tongue Rice Bowl)

Quick and delicious Gyutandon made from chewy soy sauce flavored thinly sliced beef tongue served over a bowl of steaming rice.
Author: Jaja Bakes
Course: Main
Cuisine: Japanese
Servings: 2 servings
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Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time15 minutes


  • 2 servings steamed rice
  • 9 oz (250 gr) thinly sliced beef/ox tongue
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 3 bird’s eye chilis, thinly chopped
  • 2 stalks scallions, thinly chopped


  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tbsp sake, optional
  • 1/2 tbsp sesame oil


  • Bird's eye chilis, thinly chopped
  • Scallions, thinly chopped


  • In a small bowl, combine all the sauce ingredients until well combined. Set aside.
  • Heat a large frying pan with oil on medium-high heat. Separate the thinly sliced beef tongue and add them to the frying pan. Cook until the tongue is brown and no longer pink.
  • Add the garlic and saute until the garlic is fragrant. Then, add the sauce and cook until the sauce is reduced.
  • Add the finely chopped bird’s eye chilis and scallions. Stir until just combined. Turn off the heat.
  • Serve the beef tongue slices on top of serving bowls. Garnish with more chilis and scallions if desired.


I really recommend adding chilis to give a kick to the gyutandon. If you want it less spicy, you can reduce the number of chilis or remove the chili seeds.



Serving: 1serving | Calories: 589kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 36g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 17g | Trans Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 91mg | Sodium: 1175mg | Potassium: 478mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 191IU | Vitamin C: 18mg | Calcium: 50mg | Iron: 3mg
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  1. This is my first time cooking ox tongue. It had a really strong smell when it was cooking (before adding garlic). Is that normal? I used sesame oil to grease the pan.

    1. Hi Iti,

      I think it depends on where you get from, but mine just smells fine like roasted beef when cooking. It may have a little richer odor, but it shouldn’t smell unpleasant.

      For cooking, I don’t recommend using sesame oil at very beginning. This is because sesame oil has a very low smoke point, which is the temperature at which an oil will start to burn. In fact, overcooking sesame oil will change its flavor and make it quite bitter. That’s why, sesesame oil is usually used in sauce or as the finishing touch.

    1. Hi Virginia,

      This Gyutandon dish is currently booming in Indonesia, so I can get the (already cut) thinly sliced beef tongue at local meat shops. But if you can’t find any, of course, you can cut the beef tongue yourself. I found this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qPAuDULIsro to show you how to cut and slice the beef tongue thinly, including how to skin off the beef tongue part. For tender gyutan, make sure to use the back half of the tongue.