Donburi: Rice Bowl Meals

In Japan, eating donburi is an easy way to warm up on a cold winter day–or just to enjoy a flavorful, hot dish whenever the craving strikes you. “Donburi” means simply “bowl,” but when it comes to food, it refers to a family of rice bowl dishes. What distinguishes these types of dishes is that meat, tofu, eggs and/or vegetables are simmered together into a stew and then poured atop steamed white rice.

There is no singular simmering sauce used in all dishes, but popular ones include dashi (the stock used in miso soup), soy sauce, and mirin (a type of rice wine). Ingredients typically (but not always) included are onions, eggs, and seafood. One of the most popular types of donburi is oyakodon, which literally means “parent-child donburi.” This is because it consists of both chicken (the “parent”) and egg (“the child”). Oyakodon also includes onions and may be simmered in a variety of sauces, but is usually simmered in a soy sauce mixture.

Another popular donburi dish is katsudon, which features fried pork cutlets, egg, and onions. However, there are many seafood varieties, such as tenshidon, which offers a crab meat omelet over rice, and tekkadon, which features spicy raw tuna and seaweed. There’s also unadon, which includes cooked eel.

You can find beef in donburi dishes such as gyuudon, which features just beef and onions, and tanindon, which is like oyakodon, only with beef in place of the chicken. (“Tanin” means “stranger,” since the beef and egg would have no familial relation.)

Donburi are typically inexpensive dishes available quick to order. You may find a small Japanese restaurant with only counter seating, but turnover is fast since the food is made quickly and you’ll be able to get a seat without much wait. Just don’t linger around more than necessary, as you’ll want to free up your seat for another customer.

Donburi dishes are also popular ways to prepare leftovers and give them additional flavor. Home chefs need only simmer some meat and vegetables from a previous meal together in sauce and serve them over steamed rice.

Have you ever eaten a donburi dish? Which one? Which ones sounds the most appealing to you and why?

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Tags: donburi, Food, gyuudon, japan, katsudon, lunches, oyakodon, Rice, tekkadon, unadon