Donburi is a Japanese word for rice bowl with toppings (people often call donburi by its topping+don).
There is nothing extraordinary about donburi. It is simply a combination of unseasoned steam rice and meats, eggs or seafood placed on top; with or without sauces. But yet, donburi is one of the most popular and common dishes in Japan. During lunch and dinner time, you might see many people from student to worker, from young to old, from male to female in a donburi restaurant.
While there is nothing particularly special about the concept of donburi, one’s choice of ingredients for each bowl is unique and only limited to their creativity. It is not difficult to find a donburi restaurant oversea nowadays, but from all the donburi I have eaten, those in Japan are somewhat better. I cannot tell is it because of the rice, the sauce or the toppings, I just know that all these donburi have forced me to say goodbye to the low-carbs diet *sob*. Well, this blog is not about my (sad ending) diet story so…*drumroll* Let’s explore the world of donburi!!!
Firstly, those that you can easily find oversea, the basic donburi.
Oyakodon is a combination of chicken and eggs. The name comes from these two ingredients as, ‘oya’ means parents (chicken) and ‘ko’ means children (eggs). Chicken meat is lightly marinated, stir-fried, then steamed with stock and eggs. Juicy meat with runny eggs and a mixture of dashi, soy sauce, Japanese sweet cooking sake…Hmmm, I could not ask for anything else! I have eaten many version of oyakodon oversea but nothing could compare to the original one.
Unlike Oyakodon, which the name is quite complicate (and a little unappetizing) to translate, unadon is simply grilled eel. But many people outside Japan never refer this as ‘grilled-eel’ but prefer to call this by its original name ‘unadon’. There are only three ingredients in one bowl, grilled-eel, the sauce and steam rice. Freshly grilled-eels, which are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, are placed on top of hot steam rice and its special, slightly sweet sauce *drool*.Unadon is a popular dish in summer in Japan because freshwater eels are said to be a good way to gain stamina during summer.
There are two types of katsudon, the oyakodon-like and the tonkatsu-like. Either one are made with deep-fried pork cutlet (tonkatsu) and rice. For the oyakodon-like katsudon, tonkatsu is steamed with the same stock and eggs then served on top of steam rice. For the tonkatsu-like, simply place tonkatsu on top, with tonkatsu sauce (and some thinly-sliced cabbages). Katsudon is a lucky charm for people having exam or competition because the term ‘katsu’ means ‘win’ in Japanese.
Now, let’s move on to those that are hardly seen oversea. As donburi is just a rice bowl with toppings, there is no rules about what you can place on top. However, while oversea restaurants want to go with the basic donburi to make it Japanese-like, the variety of donburi you can find in Japan is not limited to those.
Kaisendon is rice bowl with sashimi on top. There are many types of kaisendon depends on what kind of sashimi is used. Generally, kaisendon is served with a mixture of sashimi, wasabi and soy sauce to taste.
Chirashidon or chirashizushi is quite similar to kaisendon, in which the main ingredients are rice and sashimi. However, because it is categorized as ‘sushi’, chirashidon uses sushi rice not normal white rice. In addition, the topping would include some vegetable such as cucumber and tamagoyaki (pan fired rolled omelette)
Karaage stands for Japanese style marinated and deep-fried chicken. Although karaage is often served separately with or without mayonnaise as dipping sauce, there are some restaurants serve karaage as a donburi. The one I had came with a thick and sweet sauce, which was a perfect combination with the crispy but juicy deep-fried chicken.
Butadon is grilled, thinly-sliced pork bowl. The meat is marinated, grilled and served together with the sauce made only for butadon.
Grilled ox-tongue or beef are served on top of rice with yakiniku sauce.
Crispy tempura prawn, squid and other vegetables on top of steam rice, with a slightly different sauce from the usual tempura sauce when they are served separately.
These are just ones in many donburi that can be found in Japan. Each regions and restaurants has their own donburi, waiting for you to explore. If rice is not your thing, I am sure you will not love this. But if it is, prepare for all the upcoming carbs (*cry) when you come to Japan.
Oh, finally, the doki doki donburi
The romantic one (<3)
Vs the aggressive one lol
Let’s me know if you come across any uncommon donburi, and if you have any favorite one?
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