17 July 2024

 5 Best Donburi Menus

The ultimate one-bowl dish loved by many all around the world, a donburi menu may be one of the simplest ways to enjoy Japanese cuisine. Add some pickled vegetables on a small plate, set your favorite pair of Japanese chopsticks and chopstick rest, place them all on a tray, and you've made yourself a beautiful Japanese meal for one.

We've picked the five best donburi menus that highlight different styles and chosen five beautiful bowls to perfectly pair with each one. Enjoy fun trivia and tips on selecting the right bowl to showcase each delectable donburi!

Contents

  • What's a "Donburi?"
  • Tendon
  • Gyudon
  • Katsudon
  • Oyakodon
  • Unadon
  • Donburi Versatility

What's a Donburi? 

First, let's clarify the term "donburi."

The word donburi can refer to both the bowl itself and the dish served in it. In this article, for convenience, we'll call the bowls either "donburi bowls" or just "bowls."  And the dishes itself will be referred to as "donburi menus" or "donburi dishes."

A donburi is a one-bowl meal with a topping on a generous serving of rice. This culinary creation is actually only about 200 years old, dating back to the Edo period (1603 CE–1868 CE). It seems the Edo folks, known for their impatience, came up with this fast-bite wonder to enjoy a quick yet hearty meal without a long wait. However, it wasn't until the Meiji era (1868 CE–1912 CE) that the word "donburi" came into use.

Now, let's dive into our list of the five best donburi menus! 

Tendon

It's pretty safe to say that tendon is the king of all donburi menus. 

Crispy tempura is dipped in a special soy-sauce based sauce called don-tsuyu and then topped on hot rice drizzled with the same sauce. Tendon is usually served in a bowl decorated in traditional patterns with a lid. You can see the appetizing pieces of tempura coated in the don-tsuyu peeking out from the lid, waiting to be discovered. 

The history of tempura dates back to the Edo period when it was considered a street food in Edo (present-day Tokyo). Scenes of people eating tempura are often depicted in ukiyoe paintings. The actual origin of tendon is not clear, but references show that it had already existed in 1837. 

The small-sized Nishiki Peony Mino Ware Donburi Rice Bowl is our pick for this scrumptious tendon. The refined and detailed designs of the peonies and plums in a variety of classic colors are fitting for one of the oldest donburi menus in Japan.  

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Gyudon

Maybe the most well-known donburi dish worldwide, gyudon gained popularity in the 1970s when a famous franchise expanded and introduced it as a hearty and delicious fast food meal.

Also known as a "beef bowl," gyudon features thin slices of beef and onions stewed in a soy sauce-based broth, served over rice. The finishing touch is red pickled ginger called beni shoga, a must-have! The tangy ginger adds an extra edge to the savory beef.

Our gyudon is served in an iconic white porcelain Tobe ware bowl. Encircling lines drawn in the blue with the signature gosu (cobalt oxide pigments) accented with thin red lines, create an elegant and timeless design.

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Katsudon

Katsudon, hearty and filled with flavors, is made with a fried pork cutlet, known as tonkatsu, served over rice. Interestingly, "katsu" not only refers to the pork cutlet but also means "to win" in Japanese. Because of this, many people eat katsudon before a big match or an important exam, hoping for a little extra luck and good fortune.

To make katsudon, cuts of panko-coated fried pork cutlets and thinly sliced onions are simmered in a lightly-flavored soy sauce broth. Then the mixure is topped with beaten eggs and cooked until slightly set. 

The Blue Turnip Mino Ware Donburi Rice Bowl charms with its simple yet bold brush strokes depicting cozy turnip designs.  It’s the perfect piece to bring a warm, authentic donburi experience right to your home.

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Oyakodon

A popular donburi dish loved by people of all ages, oyakodon gets its name from the Japanese word "oyako," meaning parent and child, symbolizing the combination of chicken and eggs.

Oyakodon is prepared by heating tender pieces of chicken and thin slices of onion in a light broth, then setting them with beaten eggs. The silky, set yolk melds perfectly with the tender chicken and sweet onions. The dish offers mild and comforting flavors, gentle on the stomach as it's not deep-fried.

The delightful designs of Kousai Kiln's donburi bowl make it a favorite for all members of the family. Its deep, rounded shape ensures that the broth and ingredients are perfectly cradled, enhancing its inviting appeal.

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Unadon

Unadon, short for unagi donburi, features unagi, or eel. While this fish might not be a go-to choice in some cultures, charcoal-grilled unagi with a rich soy sauce glaze over hot rice is sheer bliss.

Unagi is packed with nutritional benefits, boasting high levels of vitamins A and B, along with essential minerals like zinc and calcium. Unadon is known for its energy-boosting qualities and is often enjoyed during the hot summer months.

For our unadon, we chose the Cloth Pattern Yamanaka Lacquerware Donburi Bowl. Lacquerware bowls, a popular choice for this summer favorite, add a refined touch and accentuates the glossy glaze coating the charred unagi slices.  

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Donburi Versatility  

Did your favorite make our list?

A donburi menu is an easy and enjoyable way to experience Japanese cuisine. It's simple to prepare and convenient to serve, especially with a donburi bowl. A beautiful bowl enhances the presentation and elevates the overall dining experience.

Donburi bowls come in various sizes and designs, making them incredibly versatile. If you're looking for a bowl to use for dishes for other dishes, aim for one around 8 cm (3.1 in) deep and 15–19 cm (6–7.5 in) in diameter. For noodle dishes, a bowl with a larger diameter is ideal. If you prefer donburi dishes, go for a bowl with more depth.

We offer a wide variety of donburi bowls that can be used not only for donburi dishes but also for ramen and other noodles as well. Check out our Donburi Bowl Collection and find the bowl that’s perfect you. 

View Donburi Bowl Collection

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