Japanese breakfast in bento box. Top view of classic japanese breakfast

What Do Japanese Eat for Breakfast?

We can all agree that breakfast is an essential meal in all cultures. Most people look for energy-packed nutrition that’s quick and easy to fix so they can get on with the day’s work. That’s why a warm, filling bowl of oatmeal is a common breakfast dish in Western culture. The Japanese take a wise and practical approach to breakfast. A look at Japanese breakfast traditions reveals a people who ensure that the day’s first meal has all the nutrients the body needs.

Japanese Breakfasts Packed with Nutrition

Japanese breakfast in bento box. Top view of classic japanese breakfast

Here is a look into some  traditional Japanese breakfast dishes and how they contribute to a nutritious start to the day.

Fortify with Carbohydrates

Japanese rice porridge breakfast food (okayu)

The main carbohydrate source in Japanese cuisine is white rice (hakumai) or brown rice (genmai), and that includes for breakfast. The rice is steamed for a simple breakfast meal, gohan. Sometimes the rice is used to prepare okayu, a rice porridge, a favorite of kids and adults alike. It is usually served with pickled plums prepared with vegetables (tsukemono) or shiso leaves (umeboshi). Other additions to the porridge might be dried bonito or skipjack tuna shavings (katsuobushi) and seasoned kelp or seafood (tsukudani).

Protein for Sustained Energy

Unadulterated, high-quality proteins, rich in omega 3 and 6, are of primary importance to Japanese diners. As an island culture, the traditional source of protein in the Japanese culture is fish (yakizana). For a protein-rich breakfast dish, boiled or pan-cooked freshly caught fish is often seasoned with salt only.

Poultry proteins also play a central part in traditional Japanese breakfast. One popular dish is the tamagoyaki, which is an expertly prepared, rolled and presented egg omelette.

tamagoyaki egg omelette Japanese breakfast food

The Japanese are also known for their preference for plant-based dishes. Miso soup (misoshiru) and fermented soybeans (natto) are some of the traditional bean-based breakfast dishes that have withstood the test of time.

Nutritious Fruits and Vegetables

Carbs and proteins form a large part of the Japanese breakfast. However, it also has a significant share of vegetables and fruits. Traditional breakfast in the Japanese culture was served with ajitsuke nori, which is seasoned and dried seaweed. Other vegetables (kobachi) and fruits such as bananas also are part of the breakfast plan.

Four Everyday Japanese Breakfasts

1. Gohan

Plain, steamed rice is the core of the traditional breakfast meal. It can be white or brown rice, and usually accompanies the protein servings. It comes together with some other side dishes and salads to make a complete breakfast.

2. Miso Shiru

This common traditional Japanese soup is prepared from a paste of fermented soybeans, miso together with a dashi broth. It comprises of ingredients such as chopped green onions, tofu, wakame seaweed, Japanese mushrooms and deep fried tofu (aburaage).

Miso soup rice and pickled vegetables breakfast dishes

Most Japanese households prepare miso soup from scratch, starting with the soy and dashi broth. However, there are instant miso soup packets, and dashi infused soy paste that only requires addition of water.

3. Natto

osaka bistro small dish of natto fermented bean dish

The fermented soybeans are a staple Japanese breakfast food. The protein-rich food is an acquired taste as it is very aromatic and stringy. Spicy mustard (karashi), dried bonito shavings, seasoned seaweed (kizami nori) and chopped green onions are some of the ingredients that can be used to prepare natto. Natto can also be purchased ready to eat in many Asian and Japanese food stores.

4. Tamago Kake Gohan

Tamago kake gohan or Tamago gohan for short,japanese food.

It is a special breakfast meal that delivers both protein and carbohydrate in the same bowl. The steamed rice is topped with a raw egg and soy sauce seasoning together with salt. It is not only delicious but also easy to prepare.

Popular Western Breakfast Foods

osaka bistro breakfast pancake dish with sweet bean paste and syrup

The Japanese breakfast table has evolved to incorporate western breakfast options such as bread, toasts, tea, and coffee. Nevertheless, they still opt for a high-energy option such as a thick Shokupan toast with jam. Shokupan is fluffy white bread with a soft texture.

Enjoy Traditional Japanese Breakfast Dishes at Osaka Japanese Bistro

Traditionally prepared, the Japanese breakfast is a delicious and well-balanced meal that supports the old saying that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”. For the Japanese, the goal is not to have a full plate, but rather a nutritious and healthy meal before facing the day’s hard knocks.

Osaka Japanese Bistro, Las Vegas has always offered a huge menu of traditional Japanese dishes, including popular dishes also enjoyed at breakfast like premium cut broiled fresh fish, ika natto, miso soup and tamagoyaki egg omelette. Visit us anytime for lunch, dinner or a late night meal and enjoy our extensive menu of authentic Japanese dishes, the best and freshest fish, flown in fresh from Japan for our award-winning sushi and our lively, sizzling hot and expertly prepared teppanyaki grill experience, in Las Vegas just off the Strip and in Green Valley, Henderson. Come see us when you are in town!