I am not really sure why the reviews on Urbanspoon are so bad when it comes to Gyudon Ya, I decided to go at lunch to give them a try. I would say that given the small space, this place is best for people who is on the go. The restaurant itself contains two rows of benches/tables with stools. Both the rows of the benches face away from each other, meaning that if you sit on one of rows, your back will be facing the back of the others that are sitting on the other bench. The seats themselves were not too comfortable and it feels abit cramped.That said, this reminds me of the restaurants in Japan where because the space is limited, the seating is usually placed uncomfortably. When I entered the restaurant, I was greeted by the waitress and I had to find myself a place to sit. I sat on the front counter facing the huge menu sign. Soon after, the waitress brought me tea. The tea itself was matcha and the quality of it feels above average (given that it was free). Afterward, I took a look at the menu and stared at it for a few seconds before making my decision on what to order.
Just as the name of GyuDonYa reveals, they sell only rice bowls. There are only a handful of rice bowls to choose from. There's the veggie bowl, pork bowl, chicken teriyaki bowl, mabo tofu bowl and etc... but nothing that's out of the ordinary. I was at the restaurant with my mom, so she decided to get the salmon bowl and I got the mabo tofu bowl.
The two bowls that we ordered came relatively quickly. We had the option of making our meal a combo (highly recommended because the salad is a ball of potato salad and miso soup), but we didn't do the combo because we weren't feeling like eating all the carbs. When our bowls came, the bowls themselves look exactly like the picture in the menu. The salmon bowl was abit of a surprise because we thought the salmon would be cooked, but it was not. The salmon was raw and the shrimp was not raw, but it was cold. Not sure if it was the style of the bowl, but it definitely was abit funky tasting because I don't really understand why the shrimp was cold. It wasn't like the bowl was supposed to be a don that is all made out of raw fish, so it would make sense to have some consistency.
That said, the mabo tofu dish was pretty good though, I really liked the taste of it. The way that it was prepared did not make the bowl feel greasy. The tofu and the pieces of minced pork was just right. Because I ordered a large, the portion was just right as well. For about $8 for a large don, I would say that the price is inexpensive and the portion is just right.
Overall, I would recommend this place if you are on the go and is craving some Japanese rice bowls. However, if you are looking for something high end, or