Day 20: Omurice
On first glance you might think that the name of this dish is a traditional Japanese word – but don’t be fooled just because it sounds a bit strange.
In fact, the ‘omu’ is short for ‘omelette’ and the ‘rice’ is pronounced the same way we would say the word in English. And that’s because this is essentially a combination of an omelette and rice.
Omurice is a relatively recent (by Japanese standards) invention that appears to have come from a rogue chef somewhere in Tokyo’s Ginza area. Who knows how they came up with the idea or what made them try it in the first place but it captured the hearts (and stomachs of the Japanese).
The idea is pretty simple. You take fried rice cooked with sauce – normally with little bits of chicken as the meat – and then wrap a thin fried egg around it.
Then comes the all-important topping. The normal way of serving omurice is with tomato sauce poured on top, but some people prefer demi-glace sauce or just salt and pepper.
Omurice is particularly popular with children so often when it’s served from the adult menu it is made to look a bit fancy. That might include serving it with a side dish of steamed vegetables or with a more sophisticated topping.
But sometimes chefs will also shape it into a football, or waitresses will draw a pattern with the tomato sauce on top.
There is a variation which you might find in some places which is called ‘omusoba’. If you know about the basics of Japanese cuisine, you might be able to work this one out. It’s the same idea but with fried soba noodles instead of fried rice.
I had to wait a while for my omurice. By that, I mean I went to a small restaurant in the basement level of a department store in Osaka and there was a line (partly because this place is popular and partly because there are only eight seats).
It was worth the wait, though. I had a chicken omurice and the sauce was clearly a special recipe because it didn’t taste like any ketchup I’ve had before. The meal cost 690 yen (US$6.95) and took less time to eat than it did to queue for it.