With the weather rapidly cooling down, a steaming bowl of ochazuke perfectly hits the spot. Ochazuke (ちゃづけ) is a traditional Japanese dish made by pouring hot water/tea over rice. While this may sound like a soup, it is considered to be its own category of dish by the Japanese, not fitting precisely into the soup/stew paradigm.
Ochazuke is a considered a “comfort food” in Japan, and makes for a great snack or an entire meal in itself. It is also popular as a midnight snack or hangover cure. While its most traditional form involves only water/tea and rice, toppings are usually added to it to provide other dimensions of flavor. Typical toppings include pickled plums (which provide a tart zest), shredded nori (Japanese-style seaweed), dried whitefish, and freshly grated ginger. Meanwhile, some people have also started to use soup stock in place of the tea/hot water.
Hungry yet? Here are some great places to try this comforting dish.
Dashi Chazuke En
One of the largest restaurant chains in Japan specializing in chazuke, Dashi Chazuke En’s distinct soup stock makes people want to come again and again. Their most-loved dish is the Tai Dashi Chazuke (¥930), which is composed of a soup stock made of fresh sea bream mixed with sesame sauce poured over white rice covered with Japanese pickles and freshly-picked vegetables.
Its chains are easily accessibly, with ones in both Tokyo Station and Kyoto Station, making Dashi Chazuke En a great place to stop in to relax after a long shinkansen train ride.
This izakaya (Japanese style pub) has its own “ochazuke bar”, where you can savor your dish while soaking in the restaurant’s unique atmosphere. Designed to resemble a modern tea ceremony room, Zuzu has an intimate atmosphere. Its offerings range from traditional brown rice ochazuke to more unique offerings with a variety of toppings.
Their most popular dishes are the shake chazuke (salmon and salmon roe chazuke; ¥680) and the tai chazuke (sea bream chazuke; ¥880).