Rice is obviously a staple food when it comes to many Asian countries, Japan included. As such, simply throwing away leftover rice is an absolute no-no. A simple solution many members of the Japanese community turn to for this dilemma is to mix it with other ingredients and seasonings to produce a simple but satisfying dish of Japanese fried rice.
An Overview of Japanese Fried Rice (Chahan)
Japanese fried rice is believed to have Chinese origins and dates back to the 1860s when Chinese immigrants set foot in Kobe, Japan. In China, the dish is known as chaofan, which is written using the characters 炒飯. These same characters are used in the Japanese writing system and are read as chahan.
Chahan was initially made in Japanese homes as a way of maximizing leftover rice by mixing it with different seasonings and extra ingredients. As such, the rice dish is available in a wide array of variations which differ from region to region.
At present, the rice dish serves as a staple food of Japan and is offered in nearly every local restaurant. It has become so popular over the years that many food establishments outside of Japan also serve their own versions of it.
Japanese Fried Rice Preparations – Ingredients, Seasoning/Sauce
Making Japanese fried rice is relatively easy to do. It is basically just a pleasant mix of pre-cooked rice, meat, and vegetables which are typically stir fried together in a wok or large frying pan. Some of the most common ingredients used by the Japanese community include:
Vegetables – shiitake mushroom, garlic, onion, scallion
Meat/Seafood – crab meat, shrimp, salmon, octopus, roe, pork belly, chicken, ground beef
Seasoning/Sauce – chicken broth, soy sauce, salt, pepper, oyster sauce, katsuobushi (bonito flakes), sesame oil, nori (dried seaweed)
Ideally, dried cooked rice should be used when making chahan to avoid it from sticking to the wok or pan. Other factors that could help avoid any pan sticking include ensuring the wok is hot before any ingredient is thrown in and keeping the rice warm before putting it in the wok.
Other Japanese Rice Dishes – Rice Balls, Rice Bowls, Etc.
Curry rice, as implied, is a rice dish that makes use of curry. This dish was introduced to Japan by the UK during the 19th century and is currently among the most popular meals loved by the locals. Compared to its equivalent in India, Japanese curry rice is significantly milder in terms of spiciness and taste.
Hayashi rice, or known as hashed beef rice in English, consists of thick beef stew poured over a bowl of cooked rice. The dish may also be served on a large plate, with the beef stew and rice placed side by side.
Kamameshi is a term used to refer to rice dishes that feature chicken, seafood, or vegetables as toppings. Everything is cooked and served in a single, good-for-one pot.
Mochi serves as a traditional food item during the Japanese New Year. It is basically a rice cake made from glutinous japonica rice. For the rest of the year, mochi is available as snack often served as a kind of confectionery or with soup or ice cream.
Ochakuze refers to a Japanese dish consisting of cooked rice poured over with hot water, dashi (a type of broth), or green tea. It is often topped with pickles, nori, sesame seeds, wasabi, salted salmon, or pickled seafood.
Omurice is a play on the words omelette and rice. In that sense, the dish is basically an omelette with fried rice as a filling. It is often served at western-style restaurants in Japan and is a common dish cooked in many Japanese homes.
Onigiri, which is also referred to as nigirimeshi, rice ball, or omusubi, is an incredibly popular food item in Japan. Nearly every local convenience store offers it in different flavors or with different fillings. Some of the most common fillings include salted salmon, Dongo pork, dried fish, fried meat/seafood, squid, pickled fruit/vegetables, and processed roe.
Sekihan literally means “red rice” in English. It is a traditional Japanese dish that consist of sticky rice and red adzuki beans. The dish is often served during special occasions such as weddings and birthdays.
Takikomi gohan is similar to chahan in the sense that it consist of cooked rice mixed with different ingredients. The main difference between the two is that takikomi gohan requires that the rice be seasoned with soy sauce and dashi. It has five main variations, namely:
Ayu-meshi – makes use of sweetfish
Kani-meshi – makes use crab
Gomoku meshi – makes use of five different ingredients
Matsutake gohan – makes use of matsutake mushrooms
Tai-meshi – makes use of sea bream
Tamago Kake Gohan
Tamago kake gohan serves as a popular breakfast food in Japan. It mainly consists of rice, egg, and soy sauce and is often served with miso soup and tsukemono (pickled fruit or vegetables).
Tenmusubi is another kind of rice ball that makes use of deep-fried tempura as a filling. Everything is wrapped together using nori.
Best Restaurants in Tokyo that Serve Japanese Fried Rice and Other Rice Dishes
As previously mentioned, nearly every restaurant in Japan serves their own version of Japanese fried rice. Tourists planning to take a trip to Tokyo should make it a point to visit at least one of the best places that serve chahan and many other rice dishes listed below:
Butayaro is located near the Ochanomizu Station. The place is famous for its butadon, which is basically a bowl of rice topped with flavorful pieces of grilled pork. This signature dish features a sweet and spicy sauce and is available in small, medium, and large servings. Customers are also encouraged to order a cup of beer to complement their chosen meal.
Address: 3F, 2-6-15 Kanda-Surugadai, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Crayonhouse HIROBA is the go-to place for people looking for organic food. They offer a lunch buffet for 1,500 yen per person. However, it should be noted that the restaurant does not serve purely vegetarian meals. Fortunately, all of their dishes are labelled (in Japanese and English) with the corresponding ingredients.
Address: 3-8-15 Kitaaoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Kamameshi Haru offers a long list of kamameshi dishes that make use of clams, Matsutake mushrooms, sea bream, and many other ingredients. They stand among the best kamameshi restaurants in Asakusa and never fail to keep their customers happy and coming back for more.
Address: 1-14-9 Asakusa, Taito Ward, Tokyo
Kamameshi Mutsumi is located in Asakusa and is something that should not be missed out on when in the area. Each dish on their menu is made upon order to ensure that everything is fresh and served hot. Visitors should expect a longer prep time for their meals but be assured that the wait is all worth it.
Address: 3-32-4 Asakusa, Taito Ward, Tokyo
Kyoeido dates back to the year 1924 and stands among the oldest restaurants in Jinboncho. They specialize in curry rice dishes and are known for their signature thick and spicy curry sauce. All their meals come complete with a satisfying corn coup.
Address: Sun Bldg B1F, 1-6 Kanda-Jinbocho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Mawashi-zushi Katsu is operated by Midori Zushi, a famous Japanese sushi chain. The store is known for its conveyor-belt sushi system and serves more than two hundred different dishes. Although the majority of their menu consists of sushi items, they also offer rice meals that vary according to the season.
Address: 8F Seibu Ikebukuro, 1-28-1 Minami-ikebukuro, Toshima-ku, Tokyo
Minatoya Shokuhin is a casual, open-air store located in Ueno. They are known for serving dishes made from only the freshest ingredients, which they get straight out of the Tsukiji market. There is also another branch near the Okachimachi Station.
Address: Ueno 4 chome 1-9, Taito-ku, Tokyo
Nirenoki Honmonjidori is known for its charming, old town vibe that makes the whole dining experience comfortable and pleasant. They are popular for their Goshiki Kamameshi which consists of rice, Matsutake mushrooms, crab meat, and prawns.
Address: 4-32-6 Ikegami, Ota Ward, Tokyo
Onuki is among the most popular restaurants in the Nerima Ward of Tokyo which serve delicious rice dishes loved by any and every kind of person. It features a traditional Japanese architectural style that may look intimidating but is not something that tourists should associate with the prices of the food they offer.
Address: 2-18-20 Fujimidai, Nerima Ward, Tokyo
Sakura-tei is just a 4-minute walk away from the Omotesando Station. They offer all-you-can-eat promos during lunch which consists of Monjayaki and Okonomiyaki dishes, alongside flavorful rice and several several side dishes.
Address: 3-20-1 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Seigetsudo Keio Shinjuku Store
Seigetsudo Keio Shinjuku Store is located on the 8th floor of Shinjuku’s Keio Department Store. A lot of locals and tourists flock to the restaurant in search for a satisfying meal. Their Kaisen dish, which consists of rice, scallops, prawns, and crab meat, is highly recommended.
Address: 8th Floor Keio Department Store Shinjuku, 1-1-4 Shinjuku, Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo
Seijo is situated among the high-end establishments of the Setagaya Ward but separates itself from the rest by offering dishes at incredibly reasonable prices. They specialize in rice bowl dishes but also serve many other equally delectable meals that are sure to satisfy one’s appetite.
Address: 3rd Floor Seijo Fleur, 6-4-13 Seijo, Setagaya Ward, Tokyo
Toricho Kasuga easily won the hearts of many for their reasonably priced dishes that are nothing but delicious and satisfying. Their conger eel dish stands as their most popular one which many describe to be a fragrant meal consisting of flavorful meat and rice. They also serve many other rice dishes that all do not disappoint.
Address: 2-1-1 Koishikawa, Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo
Toridoki Kachidoki is a relatively new restaurant but has consistently been proving their expertise in creating scrumptious rice dishes, among other Japanese meals. Their chicken and squid meals combined with their flavorful rice are just some of the many things that attract tons of locals and tourists to their store on a daily basis.
Address: 3-4-1 Kachidoki, Chuo Ward, Tokyo
Torigin Ginza Main Store
Torigin Ginza Main Store dates back about sixty years ago. It is believed to be Ginza’s very first restaurant to specialize in kamameshi dishes and continues to provide the public with the same flavors that put it on the map.
Address: B1 Floor, New Ginza Building 6, 5-5-7 Ginza, Chuo Ward, Tokyo
Uwokama Nihonbashi Yokoyamacho
Uwokama Nihonbashi Yokoyamachi carries a chic and modern ambiance that pleasantly complements the dishes they serve. The majority of their menu consists of seafood items that are either served as rice toppings or as a separate meal altogether.
Address: 1-4 Nihonbashi Yokoyamacho, Chuo Ward, Tokyo
Basic Japanese Fried Rice with Egg Recipe and Nutrition Info (Calories, Sodium, Etc.)
Japanese fried rice is not a hard dish to make at home, regardless of one’s expertise in cooking. There is no strict set of rules when it comes to the ingredients, sauces, and seasonings that should be used when making chahan so anyone can make their own version of it.
For those who want to cook up a simple but authentic bowl of Japanese fried rice, following the basic recipe below is guaranteed to produce a satisfying meal for 2.
400 grams of cooked white rice
2 – 4 green onions
40 grams of bacon
30 grams of carrots
1 Tbsp. of soy sauce
1 Tbsp. of sake (Japanese rice wine)
Olive oil or butter
Chop and dice the green onions, bacon, and carrots.
Fry the diced green onions, bacon, and carrots in one pan and set aside after.
Place a wok or frying pan over medium heat and put in some olive oil or butter.
Put in the egg, followed by the cooked white rice.
Mix and fry the egg and rice together.
Add and mix the cooked green onions, bacon, and carrots into the egg-rice mixture.
Add a tablespoon of soy sauce and mix.
Add a tablespoon of sake and mix.
Add and mix in salt and pepper until desired taste is acquired.
Calories (Per Serving): 896.1
Calories from Fat (Per Serving): 114 or 13% Daily Vitamin Value
Total Fat (Per Serving): 12.7 grams or 19% Daily Vitamin Value
Saturated Fat (Per Serving): 4 grams or 20% Daily Vitamin Value
Cholesterol (Per Serving): 119.3 milligrams or 39% Daily Vitamin Value
Sodium (Per Serving): 734.1 milligrams or 30% Daily Vitamin Value
Total Carbohydrates (Per Serving): 167.5 grams or 55% Daily Vitamin Value
Dietary Fiber (Per Serving): 6.6 grams or 26% Daily Vitamin Value
Sugars (Per Serving): 1.6 grams or 6% Daily Vitamin Value
Protein (Per Serving): 20.5 grams or 41% Daily Vitamin Value