When I was watching TV the other day, I heard that Japanese “DONBURI dish” is very popular now among New Yorkers.
“DONBURI dish” means a Japanese “over-sized rice bowl dish” consisting of the main dish served over rice. For Japanese, rice is the staple food so DONBURI dish has been eaten in Japan for long time.
Anything you want as the main dish can be put on top of the rice in a bowl and Voila, your DONBURI dish is ready, but let me introduce some of the most famous DONBURI dish in Japan:
TEN-DON (tempura over rice), GYŪ-DON (simmered beef over rice), KATSU-DON (pork cutlet over rice), OYAKO-DON (literally “family over rice”, but this means “chicken and egg over rice”), UNA-DON (eels over rice) and KAISEN-DON (seafood over rice).
According to the TV program, it is difficult for foreign people to eat the main dish, side dish and rice in turn because for them, rice is tasteless so the rice tends to remain untouched.
However with DONBURI dish, you can eat the main dish and the rice together as the source of the main dish is soaked in the rice.
Now, let’s talk about how the DONBURI dish was invented.
Once upon a time, a man entered a restaurant around the port to have a good meal before the departure of his ship.
Ordering a grilled UNAGI eel and a bowl of rice, he was waiting impatiently for the meal to be ready holding chopsticks in his hand.
Since cutting and broiling a UNGI eel took time, when the meal was served in front of him, a voice to announce his ship’s departure was heard and he had to leave the restaurant immediately.
The UNAGI eel looked so yummy that he picked up the eel by chopsticks and put it on the rice in the bowl and covered it up with the plate for the eel, then jumped on the ship.
After the ship set sail, he opened the cover and got surprised. The eel got fluffier being steamed thanks to the cover, and the source was soaked well in the rice. He enjoyed this “UNA-DON” so much that since then, people started to dare to put the main food on top of the rice and eat it as DONBURI dish.
This is truly the delicacy found by chance!
In Korean cuisine, there is a similar food to DONBURI dish which is called BIBIMBAP. BIBIMBAP is also served as a bowl of rice topped with vegetables, an egg and meat however, one big difference from DONBURI dish is that with BIBIMBAP, you mix the rice and the food over the rice “in the bowl” before you eat. With DONBURI dish, you mix them “in the mouth” so you can fine-tune the degree of the salt (or sugar) by changing the portion of the rice and the food in a bite. With less rice, the taste is stronger and more rice, it becomes milder.
So, why not try a DONBURI dish and find your best matching?