The National Everyday Cuisine of Japan -  Discover the World of Donburi (Rice Bowl Dish)

Publish-date: Jan 17 2019 Update-date: Jan 30 2019
Author: SAVOR JAPAN

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The National Everyday Cuisine of Japan -  Discover the World of Donburi (Rice Bowl Dish)

Everyone in Japan loves donburi dishes (rice bowl dish). They can feature all sorts of toppings, allowing for countless variations. This article will introduce you to donburi, a must-try dish if you are visiting Japan.

1. Una-Don

1. Una-Don
The first on the list is a donburi topped with eel kabayaki (boned eel opened up and pierced with skewers, then covered in sauce and grilled). Fluffy grilled eel tastes so good with the rich, sweet and salty tare (sauce) made from soy sauce, mirin (sweet alcohol for cooking), sugar and sake! The rice absorbs the sauce, taking on an irresistible flavor. Some restaurants serve it with a kimosui, which is a clear soup made with simmering eel innards in a broth and seasoning it with salt or soy sauce.

Recommended Restaurant - Kawaei (Akabane, Tokyo)

Recommended Restaurant - Kawaei (Akabane, Tokyo)
Japanese Cuisine for the Masses! Discover the World of Donburi
A well-established eel restaurant founded in 1946. The eel served here has a melt-in-the-mouth, tender texture due to a unique cooking technique that requires raw eel to be directly steamed as is!

Kawaei

Open: [Monday, Tuesday, Thursday-Sunday, National Holidays, the Day Before National Holidays] Lunch: 11:30 am - (L.O. 2:00 pm) / Dinner: 6:00 pm - (L.O. 9:30 pm)
Closed: Wednesday
Average price: [Dinner] 5,000 JPY / [Lunch] 2,500 JPY
Access: 4 minutes walk from the East Exit of Akabane Station on JR Lines.
Address: 1-19-16, Akabane, Kita-ku, Tokyo (Map)
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2. Ten-Don

2. Ten-Don
Ten-don is short for "tempura-don." As the name suggests, it is the bowl of rice topped with tempura, another staple of Japanese cuisine. There is no strict rule in the kind of ingredients to be tempura, but shrimps, Japanese whiting, squid and other seafood are common. In addition, it can come topped with all sorts of vegetables as well, such as small green peppers, eggplant, pumpkin, and lotus root, to name a few. The name can be changed if only certain ingredients are used, as in [Ebi Ten-Don] (with shrimps) or [Anago Ten-Don] (with conger eel). Most of the time, it's dressed with a sweet sauce that goes very well with rice.

Recommended Restaurant - Tenkichi (Kuise, Hyogo)

Recommended Restaurant - Tenkichi (Kuise, Hyogo)
Japanese Cuisine for the Masses! Discover the World of Donburi
At Tenkichi, you can have freshly fried tempura for a reasonable price. [Ten-Don] is their signature dish and you can have it for as little as 390 JPY!

Tenkichi

Open: 11:00 am - 8:00 pm (L.O. 7:30 pm)
Closed: Sunday
Average price: [Dinner] 500 JPY
Access: 5 minutes walk from the exit of Kuise Station. Go north from the Kuise Intersection along the Route No.2.
Address: 2-16-18, Kuisehon-machi, Amagasaki, Hyogo (Map)
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3. Kaisen-Don

3. Kaisen-Don
If you're visiting a port town where you can have plenty of fresh seafood, you'll want to try this dish. When rice comes topped with seafood sashimi, it's called [Kaisen-Don]. The toppings that often includes seafood such as tuna, salmon, scallops, squid, shrimps, crab, sea urchin, salmon roe, and so on. The seasoning varies from place to place, so you may find it flavored with wasabi and soy sauce at one restaurant, and a slightly sweet sauce at another.

Recommended Restaurant - Kita no Donburiya Takinami Shokudo (Otaru, Hokkaido)

Recommended Restaurant - Kita no Donburiya Takinami Shokudo (Otaru, Hokkaido)
Japanese Cuisine for the Masses! Discover the World of Donburi
Only a few steps away from Otaru Station, you'll find Kita no Donburiya Takinami Shokudo inside Otaru Triangle Market. If you order their special [Original Wagamama-Don] (from 1,800 JPY (plus tax)), you'll get to pick your favorite toppings, which is something only a restaurant directly managed by a fishery can offer!

Kita no Donburiya Takinami Shokudo

Open: 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Closed: None
Average price: [Dinner] 1,500 JPY
Access: Located within “Otaru Triangle Market,” right outside of Otaru Station.
Address: Sankaku Ichiba-nai, 3-10-16 Inaho, Otaru, Hokkaido (Map)
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4. Oyako-Don

4. Oyako-Don
This dish consists of chicken meat simmered in warishita (a broth flavored with soy sauce and mirin), onions and scallion, mixed with beaten eggs and placed on top of rice. Since both chicken and eggs are used here, it's called [Oyako-Don], which literally translates to "parent and child donburi". Its sweet and salty flavor matches divinely with rice! It's served when the egg is only half cooked before it firms up, so it has a lovely creamy texture. Many restaurants top it with Japanese wild parsley or shredded nori to add a touch of color.

Recommended Restaurant - Nagoya Kochin Oyakodon Tori Shimizu (Nagoya, Aichi)

Recommended Restaurant - Nagoya Kochin Oyakodon Tori Shimizu (Nagoya, Aichi)
Japanese Cuisine for the Masses! Discover the World of Donburi
The signature dish of this restaurant is oyako-don made with Nagoya Cochin, a brand of chicken characterized by a springy texture and a full-bodied flavor. Served with Nagoya's special Hatcho Miso-based tare, this oyako-don is superb.

Nagoya Kochin Oyakodon Tori Shimizu

Open: 11:00 am - 11:00 pm(L.O.10:00 pm)
Closed: None
Average price: [Dinner] 1,000 JPY / [Lunch] 1,000 JPY
Access: 1- 5 minutes walk from Nagoya Station on any line
Address: B1, 3-28-12 Meieki, Nakamura-ku, Nagoya, Aichi (Map)
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5. Gyu-Don

5. Gyu-Don
Thinly sliced beef is simmered together with onions or spring onion and placed over rice to make gyu-don. It's also referred to as "gyumeshi." The classic seasoning is a sweet and salty sauce made with soy sauce, sugar, and other ingredients. Sometimes it's cooked with shirataki (fine konjac yam noodles). You can add "beni shoga" (ginger pickled in plum vinegar) as well as raw egg.

Recommended Restaurant - Tsuzumiya (Awaji Island, Hyogo)

Recommended Restaurant - Tsuzumiya (Awaji Island, Hyogo)
Japanese Cuisine for the Masses! Discover the World of Donburi
Tsuzumiya takes pride in their dishes made with seasonal products from Awaji Island. Their exceptional [Teppanyaki Abalone Gyu-don] (2,500 JPY, plus tax) will leave you speechless!

Tsuzumiya

Open: [Monday - Wednesday, Friday - Sunday, National Holidays, Day before National Holidays] 12:00 pm - 9:00 pm (L.O. 8:00 pm), Lunch 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Closed: Thursday
Open if it's a national holiday
Average price: [Dinner] 3,000 JPY / [Lunch] 1,500 JPY
Address: 1119-52, Taga, Awaji-shi, Hyogo (Map)
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6. Buta-Don

6. Buta-Don
In Hokkaido, kaisen-don is popular, but buta-don is also recommended! It's basically rice topped with pork meat seasoned with a sweet and salty sauce, originally from Obihiro in the Tokachi area. The pork meat can be stir-fried in a frying pan, grilled with charcoal on a wire rack, or cooked in many other ways depending on the restaurant. As for the cuts of pork, each restaurant has its preference.
*Some gyu-don chain restaurants serve buta-don, which is basically the pork version of gyu-don. The pork meat used in the buta-don at gyu-don chains is thinly sliced, simmered with onions in warishita, and placed on top of rice, so it is nothing like Hokkaido's buta-don.

Recommended Restaurant - Tokachi-butadon Ippin Sapporo Station Stellar Place Branch (Sapporo, Hokkaido)

Recommended Restaurant - Tokachi-butadon Ippin Sapporo Station Stellar Place Branch (Sapporo, Hokkaido)
Japanese Cuisine for the Masses! Discover the World of Donburi
Tokachi-butadon Ippin Sapporo Station Stellar Place Branch is known for their fragrant buta-don, whose pork is directly grilled over fire. The sweet aroma of the sauce is sure to whet your appetite.

Tokachi-butadon Ippin Sapporo Station Stellar Place Branch

Open: 11:00 am - 11:00 pm (last order 10:30 pm)
Closed: None
Average price: [Dinner] 850 JPY
Access: Located on the sixth floor of Stellar Place Center, directly connected to JR Sapporo Station and Sapporo subway station.
Address: 6F Stellar Place Center, 2-5 Kita Gojonishi, Chuo-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido (Map)
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7. Katsu-Don

7. Katsu-Don
This donburi uses tonkatsu (thick pork cutlet coated in flour, egg, and bread crumbs and fried), a pretty popular delicacy among foreign tourists as well. It's simmered with onion and sweet and salty seasonings, and then everything is cooked together with egg and placed on rice. The crispy texture of tonkatsu goes excellent with the creaminess of the half-cooked egg! It's often served with Japanese wild parsley or shredded nori on top.

Recommended Restaurant - KATSUDON (Osaka, Osaka)

Recommended Restaurant - KATSUDON (Osaka, Osaka)
Japanese Cuisine for the Masses! Discover the World of Donburi
In the good-old Japan atmosphere of the restaurant, KATSUDON, you can enjoy a delicious katsu-don. It's their specialty, and you'll get to choose from 10 different variations. The most recommended one is their original [Katsu-Don] (750 JPY), wherein 1 cutlet is cooked with 2 eggs, which makes the serving a lot more voluminous!

KATSUDON

Open: 11:00 am - 9:30 pm (L.O. 9:00 pm)
Closed: None
Average price: [Dinner] 700 JPY
Access: 15 minutes walk from the central north exit of JR [Osaka Station], or 15 minutes walk from the Chaya-machi exit of Hankyu [Umeda Station]. Located in Takimi-koji on B1F of Umeda Sky Bldg.  
Address: Takimi-koji, B1F, Umeda Sky Bldg., 1-1-90, Oyodonaka, Kita-ku, Osaka city, Osaka (Map)
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8. Tekka-Don

8. Tekka-Don
Tekka-don is a type of kaisen-don. The bowl of rice with thinly sliced tuna on the top, whose vivid red color earned it the name "tekka," which means "red-hot iron." Another feature of this dish is that they don't use white rice, but sushi rice (rice flavored with vinegar and salt). In some restaurants, the sauce is poured on the slices first, and then they're arranged on the rice, but in other cases, soy sauce or tare (sauce) is added later. It's generally dressed with condiments like wasabi, nori, green perilla, and white sesame.

Recommended Restaurant - Maguro-goya Main Branch (Numazu, Shizuoka)

Recommended Restaurant - Maguro-goya Main Branch (Numazu, Shizuoka)
Japanese Cuisine for the Masses! Discover the World of Donburi
Maguro-goya Main Branch offers fantastic seafood and maguro-based dishes. The highly recommended [Hamidashi-don] (1,350 JPY (plus tax)) is a luxurious bowl that literally overflows with tuna.

Maguro-goya Main Branch

Open: 11:00 am - 10:30 pm (L.O. 10:00 pm)
Closed: Sunday
If Saturday is a national holiday, closed on Monday instead
Average price: [Dinner] 3,000 JPY / [Lunch] 1,000 JPY
Address: 5-3-3, Ote-machi, Numazu-shi, Shizuoka (Map)
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9. Shirasu-Don

9. Shirasu-Don
Topped with whitebait (fry of sweetfish, sardine, conger eel, or other species), this donburi is dressed with tare or soy sauce. You may find it topped with condiments like spring onion, green perilla, and shredded nori, or even an egg yolk. The freshness of shirasu doesn't last long, so most restaurants use boiled whitebait. However, if you visit areas that fish a lot of whitebait (Kamakura and Fujisawa in Kanagawa Prefecture, Namazu in Shizuoka Prefecture, Awaji Island in Hyogo Prefecture, and so on) at the right time of year, you'll be able to savor donburi topped with raw whitebait.

Recommended Restaurant - Kamomemaru (Numazu, Shizuoka)

Recommended Restaurant - Kamomemaru (Numazu, Shizuoka)
Japanese Cuisine for the Masses! Discover the World of Donburi
Kamomemaru, an eye-catching restaurant serving the food of fishers, is located in Numazu Port. Here, you can enjoy budget-friendly yet fulfilling seafood dishes. Other than shirasu-don, you should try out their [Numazu-Don] (1,728 JPY), which is topped with raw whitebait and sakura shrimps. It's a dish you must try at least once!

Kamomemaru

Open: [Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday] Lunch 11:00 am - 3:00 pm (L.O. 2:30 pm), Dinner 5:00 pm - 9:00 pm (L.O. 8:30 pm)
[Saturday, National Holidays] 11:00 am - 9:00 pm (L.O. 8:30 pm)
[Sunday] 11:00 am - 8:30 pm (L.O. 8:00 pm)
Closed: Wednesday
Open if it's a national holiday, and closed the next day instead
Average price: [Dinner] 1,600 JPY / [Lunch] 1,080 JPY
Address: 101, Senbonminato-machi, Numazu-shi, Shizuoka (Map)
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A cheap and delicious donburi is just what you need sometimes during your travels. Enjoy this iconic staple of Japanese food culture at one of these restaurants.
Disclaimer: All information is accurate at time of publication.
Publish-date: Jan 17 2019 Update-date: Jan 30 2019
Author: SAVOR JAPAN

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