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7 Common Japanese Breakfast Dishes

Learn about breakfast in Japan with these meals to start your day.

Got an upcoming trip to Japan planned or want to learn more about Japanese food culture? Start with my list of popular Japanese breakfast food! Some of these might be familiar favorites that are already used in some American dishes.

Typical Japanese Breakfast

Others will be completely unheard of and require a bit of an adventurous spirit to try.

All these items on my list are breakfast foods I’ve come to enjoy. Yes, some of them can be enjoyed as part of a dinner or lunch.

But as someone who likes to experiment with something other than toast and butter, this list of popular Japanese breakfast food always hits the spot.

Popular Japanese Breakfast Food

I’ll go over each of these foods and why I think they’re perfect for a morning meal. They include staples like rice and pancakes, as well as foods that are good for the gut like Miso soup. Here’s a summary of what foods I’ll be covering.

Rice

While Americans are used to cooking steamed rice for dinner or lunch, the Japanese also enjoy this starchy treat for breakfast.

I like it because it’s easy to cook and extremely versatile. I’ve enjoyed Japanese rice in breakfast bowls that include chilled brown or white rice.

I find that the most delicious bowls include chilled white rice, some green onions, eggs, and avocados. I usually add a touch of soy or sesame sauce for flavor.

Because rice goes with just about anything, it’s easy to experiment with different flavors and foods.

I’ve also found adding some lox or fruit to cold rice makes for a tasty breakfast. 


Miso Soup

Miso soup might be a popular Japanese breakfast food because of its health benefits. The miso paste can promote better gut health and good bacteria.

Traditional miso soup contains dashi stock, miso paste, scallions, and tofu. I’ve found it’s relatively easy to make and usually doesn’t take more than 40 minutes.

Although most Americans don’t think of soup as a breakfast food, it can be! When I leave the onions out, the flavor of miso soup is a tad blander.

Like oatmeal, the soup can be comforting during the cold fall and winter mornings. I also like the energy rush it gives me.


Japanese Pancakes 

So how are Japanese pancakes different from their American counterparts? Well, they’re probably just as sweet. However, they’re a little more fluffy, like soufflé.

Japanese pancakes can include some of the same staple ingredients most people already have in their cupboards and pantries.

Just gather up some eggs, milk, sugar, baking powder, flour, vanilla extract, and vegetable oil.

The main difference I’ve found is I have to whip up some egg whites. I also have to mix the batter separately from the egg whites.

However, the taste is just as delicious and sugary as the American version. I can also buy premade Japanese pancake mixes if I don’t want to make them from scratch.


Tamagoyaki

Tamagoyaki is the Japanese version of the omelet. But instead of using eggs and a mix of cheese, meats, and veggies, the Japanese incorporate dashi, soy sauce, and mirin.

Plus, tamagoyaki consists of omelets that are shaped into rectangles. 

So, there’s more of a soft texture here that doesn’t require extra hot sauce to make the cooked eggs more delicate.

Added sugar balances out the tang of the soy sauce, but I’ve found tamagoyaki is a refreshing diversion from traditional American breakfast cuisine.


Tamago Gohan

In my opinion, Tamago Gohan is one of the best Japanese breakfast foods. It’s a breakfast bowl with rice, egg yolks, soy sauce, and sesame seeds.

But it’s one of the ultimate comfort foods that are like a warm casserole at the end of a hard day.

The only difference is I’m starting my day with equal part carbs and protein. I think Tamago Gohan is great because it’s so filling.

I don’t get hungry a few hours later. This popular Japanese breakfast food carries me through until lunch every time.


Okayu

Got a sweet tooth and prefer something sugary in the morning? Okayu is sure to hit the spot as a classic rice porridge.

It’s like rice pudding, but I can top it with whatever I want. I can add salmon, pickled plums, or seaweed.

Yes, I know some of those toppings might not appeal to everyone. However, okayu is a popular breakfast food for a reason.

Part of that is its rice base, which goes with a lot of different toppings and foods. The other is because it’s easy to make and can be made as a bland breakfast food as well.

When I have a bit of a tummy ache and still need to eat, I can count on okayu in the morning.

Sometimes I add a dash of cinnamon and vanilla extract to give it more of a sweet taste. I know you’ll like it!


Dorayaki

Dorayaki is two pancakes with a sweet, red bean paste in the middle. The pancakes are made with honey, giving dorayaki an extra dose of sweetness.

Sometimes I like to eat this treat like a cookie. But I’ve also discovered I can dip dorayaki in a bit of syrup or spread jelly on the top.

Dorayaki also tastes good with other types of filing. Think nut butter, custard, and creme fillings.

These are great pancakes and breakfast foods to try out with family, friends, and guests.

If I had a bed and breakfast, I would add dorayaki to the breakfast menu for sure.


Popular Japanese Breakfast Food

  1. Rice
  2. Miso Soup
  3. Japanese Pancakes
  4. Tamagoyaki
  5. Tamago Gohan
  6. Okayu
  7. Dorayaki

Final Thoughts

When it comes to popular Japanese breakfast food, I’m always up to trying something new. Challenging my conventional notions of what breakfast can be is a joy and a learning process.

The above list contains some of my favorite Japanese breakfasts I’ve discovered through trial and error. Check out other traditional Japanese dishes for more delicious ideas!

If I had to narrow it down to my top three, I’d pick Japanese pancakes, tamagoyaki, and dorayaki. However, all the foods on the list are delicious and comforting.

The next time you’re looking for something new for breakfast, be sure to try one of these dishes. You won’t be disappointed!

Learn about other culture’s breakfast foods, like Dutch breakfast treats or Greek breakfast food.

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Written by Erin Elizabeth

Erin lives in East Passyunk and enjoys checking out the local restaurants in South Philly and beyond. Her favorite restaurants are those with spicy food and outdoor seating so that she can bring along her dog, Miss Piggy.