When you hear "Japanese Food", what’s the first thing that pops into your head? Was it ramen and sushi? Or even natto? These are all excellent options - but have you tried Donburi before?
While not as popular abroad as ramen and sushi, donburi is an essential comfort food you'd find all over Japan!
Donburi - or abbreviated as “don” - literally means “bow”l, but in Japanese context, this refers to a dish. For a typical donburi, you will be served with a bowl of steamed rice with toppings such as vegetables and meat or seafood.
You can put pretty much anything on top of rice, so there’s really an endless amount of donburi to try - but we’ve put together a list of our top 5 favorite donburi dishes to get you inspired!
1. Katsudon (カツ丼)
Katsudon is one of the most popular donburi in Japan. You can find this filling meal in almost every supermarket or konbini across Japan. The dish consists of Tonkatsu (deep-fried panko breaded pork cutlet), gooey-soft egg and sliced onion that simmer together in a sweet soy-based sauce.
This meal is also popular among students - it’s traditional to eat Katsudon before an exam because it’s a dish that will fill their bellies, giving them the energy and focus needed to ace their exams! The word “katsu” sounds similar to “victory” in Japanese, so it also works as a sort of delicious good luck charm, as well!
2. Tendon (天丼)
Tendon -short for “Tempura Donburi” - is a rice bowl with crispy tempura (usually shrimp) and drizzled with a dressing made with sweet and savory soy sauce. The best part of Tendon is that you can customize it with any tempura vegetables and seafood you’d like! A bowl of warm miso soup and a refreshing side salad will typically complete your meal!
3. Gyudon (牛丼)
Gyu is the Japanese word for “cow” or “beef”, so, you guessed it - Gyudon means beef bowl. Just like the name suggests, Gyudon is a rice bowl topped with thin slices of marinated beef and onions that are simmered in a delicious soy based sauce similar to other donburi dishes. Gyudon is the most famous donburi in Japan. You’re never too far away from a Gyudon spot like Matsuya, Yoshinoya or Sukiya!
4. Oyakodon (親子丼)
"Oya" means parents in Japanese, and "ko" means child. So, oyakodon literally means "parent and child bowl" - because its main ingredients are chicken and eggs. Kind of morbid - but seriously delicious
Oyakodon was invented in Tokyo in 1891 and has been an essential comfort food since then, especially on a cold rainy day! Tender chicken thigh and soft beaten eggs are simmered in a donburi sauce and stock before being poured overtop a fluffy bowl of white rice.
5. Kaisendon (海鮮丼)
Taking an example from sushi, we all know Japan likes to eat their seafood raw. So, when it comes to Kaisendon or “seafood rice bowl”, they serve hot rice with raw tuna, salmon, salmon roe or a huge variety of fresh seafood that Japan has to offer based on the region and season.
So which donburi do you think suits you the best? Fluffy Japanese rice is the perfect canvas to create a meal specifically for you! What would your perfect donburi look like? Let us know in the comments below - we’re getting hungry just thinking about it!