Culinary Ambassadors: Breakfast in Japan

Serious Eats' Culinary Ambassadors check in from time to time with reports on food fare in their homeland or countries of residence. Here's the latest! (Find out more about CA or join here!) —The Mgmt.

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A coffeehouse breakfast, but it's pretty similar to what people eat at home. [Photograph: Wikipedia]

Any traveler who visited Japan may have encountered a "traditional" Japanese breakfast at a hotel. It may have a piece of grilled fish, miso soup, rice, onsen tamago, nori, and Japanese pickles.

But an everyday breakfast is more like this: A fluffy, thick toast with butter, ham and eggs and a green salad.

The other day, I was talking to a Japanese guy who recently came to the U.S., and he told me that, "My American coworkers think it's weird to eat a lettuce salad for breakfast."
(Um, yeah, I don't do that either.)

Indeed, it's pretty common to eat a salad in the morning in Japan. Or anything, really.

A typical Japanese breakfast is savory. Bread or rice, eggs, a meat product (ham, bacon or sausage), and some sort of vegetables.

There are super-organized mothers who can make breakfast while making bento for their kids; although maybe not this fast. And sometimes you eat the same stuff for breakfast and lunch.

A survey done by Macromill.com shows that about 50 percent of people they surveyed (in their 20s to 60s) eat bread for breakfast, while only less than 40 percent eat rice.

A typical rice-based breakfast can still be ham and eggs and vegetables, though some people eat natto or tamago-gohan* for breakfast. I don't like eating natto for breakfast because of the smell and potential slime residue, but nowadays they have less-smelly natto available and it's marketed for breakfast (which still does not solve the slime problem).

House (you know, the company that sells tofu) came out with Morning curry, and Wikipedia says Morning ramen is becoming popular. I actually liked eating leftover curry for breakfast.

Of course, "typical" depends where in Japan you live.

In Nagoya and surrounding areas, breakfast at a coffee shop is their big thing; it's called Morning (or morning set, or morning service. No, it's about breakfast, not church). Their unique item is sweet azuki paste on buttered toast. But it doesn't end there.

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[Photograph: Wikipedia]

In this picture, you have udon, ten-musu(tempura omusubi/onigiri), warabi-mochi with kinako, and coffee.

And then there's this:

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[Photograph: jetalone on Flickr]

Who said you can't have a hot dog for breakfast?

* Tamago gohan is a bowl of steaming-hot white rice, raw egg, and soy sauce. Stir vigorously. Slurp.

—hmw0029

Want to tell the SE community about breakfast where you live? Go here! »

To find out more about the Culinary Ambassadors initiative or sign up, see this SE Talk thread »

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