9 Popular Types of Donburi (Japanese Rice Bowls)
A simple one-dish meal topped with all of your favorite Japanese foods, donburi rice bowls are the perfect choice for a quick and delicious meal in Japan. Named for the large bowl that it’s served in called a “don”, a donburi combines a bowl of steamed rice, meat, vegetables, sauce, and usually a side of pickles and miso soup, for an all-in-one meal that’s both convenient and filling.
Donburi cuisine first started to appear in Japan from the 1600s, when pieces of grilled eel were served on top of rice to theatergoers during the Edo period. Since then, the offerings for donburi have expanded to all kinds of foods, from beef to chicken and seafood and more.
8 of the Best Donburi, from Katsudon to Gyudon
Ikura don features a bowl of fresh steaming rice topped with glistening ikura (salmon roe). You’ll find that the cool, buttery orbs of roe burst with a succulent freshness that contrasts nicely with the hot rice.
Katsudon features crispy pork or chicken katsu (a breaded and deep-fried cutlet) that has been simmered in a sweet dashi and soy sauce broth with thinly sliced onion and a scrambled egg. It’s especially delicious when the breaded katsu is still crisp even after cooking in the savory broth.
The name oyako don, which literally means “parent and child” rice bowl, may seem a bit twisted but it’s no less delicious. Pieces of steamed chicken (the “parent”) are cooked together with egg (the “child”) and sliced onion in a sweet and savory broth before being poured on top of rice and garnished with fresh herbs and shichimi pepper spice.
Ten don may sound like a type of meat, but it actually covers a range of deep-fried tempura ingredients served over rice with sauce. Short for “tempura donburi”, ten don includes varieties like ebi-ten don (fried prawn), ika-ten don (fried squid), and yasai-ten don (fried vegetables). The best ten don is light and crispy, never soggy or oily.
Gyudon beef bowls are probably one of the most famous types of donburi, with several major beef bowl chains competing in Japan. Gyudon features thin slices of beef simmered with onion in a mildly sweet broth. It can also be topped with items like pickled ginger, a poached egg, kimchi, or grated daikon radish with ponzu citrus dressing.
Butadon, the pork equivalent of gyudon, became popular in Japan during the early-to-mid 2000s when there were restrictions on beef due to the mad cow scare. Many beef bowl chains started serving pork bowls called “buta don” or “ton don” instead. Although it’s been many years since beef restrictions were lifted, buta don is still very popular in Japan.
Kaisendon is a seafood donburi that’s a specialty dish of Hokkaido in northern Japan. Kaisendon features steaming hot rice topped with the best seafood of the day, including incredibly fresh uni (sea urchin), sweet scallops, tender crab meat, and gleaming ikura.
Chuka don features a Chinese-style stir fry in a thick sauce served over rice. It’s a popular fast food dish in Japan. Common ingredients include meat and seafood, along with cabbage, bamboo shoots, and wood ear mushroom.
Sosu katsu don is a regional specialty of Fukui prefecture. Like katsu don, it’s made with a crispy breaded cutlet over rice, but rather than cooking the cutlet with onions in a simmering broth, sosu katsu features a sweet Worcester-based sauce
Japanese Rice Bowls Are a Quick, Cheap & Delicious Meal
Donburi rice bowls are the perfect choice for anyone looking for a casual yet delicious way to try some of the top foods in Japan. Visit Gurunavi to find the best places to enjoy every kind of donburi in Japan.