At most fine-dining establishments in Japan, the final course before dessert culminates with a rice course known as gohanmono (ごはんもの). After showcasing the chef’s skill in a myriad of preparation techniques, from steamed to simmered courses, or in the case of specialty restaurants, mastery over a wide array of the season’s finest ingredients, the humble rice course closes out the meal.
Besides ensuring that diners do not leave hungry, it serves as a grounding element, anchoring the diverse flavors and textures experienced throughout the meal. Unlike the grandeur of the main courses, it is a pure and direct expression of a chef’s philosophy towards cooking, ranging from simple dishes all the way to more complicated executions.
From the extremely luxurious, such as Maison de Louange’s foie gras rice and Azabu Kadowaki’s truffle rice, to Zaiyu Hasegawa’s heart warming wild mushroom rice; from the show stoppers, like Makoto Shin Kobe’s minced chicken rice and Acá’s paella, to time-honored classics such as chestnut rice or tamagokake gohan.
When creating these dishes, chefs take into account the different facets of cooking, from the choice of cooking vessel and ingredients, all the way to the variety of rice, interpreting the course based on their personal style and the lasting impression they wish to leave their guests with.
The cooking vessels themselves are works of art, be it cast iron or a clay pot donabe, that are first presented to the guest to build up anticipation, before the contents is dramatically revealed to the guest. The rice and ingredients are then mixed together before being served with pickles and a side of soup or tea.
The acidic and salty notes from the pickles help balance out the rice, serving as palate cleansers between each mouthful, whilst the hot soup helps wash down the remaining contents, leaving one with a satisfying finish.
The collection of rice dishes presented below are inspired by different chefs from all around Japan. Whilst they may not be exact recipes, they have been developed based on what we have tasted in the past, combined with the lasting impressions that these dishes have left us with. We hope that they will give you inspiration for future dishes you may develop in the future.
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