To understand what Oyakodon is, it is best to first translate into English. “Oya” means parent, “ko” means child and “don” is short for donburi which is a rice bowl. The name of the dish is a poetic reflection of the fact that chicken and egg are served over rice. (Chicken is the parent and the egg is the child.)
The dish was first made at the Tamahide restaurant in Tokyo in 1891. It is made by cooking the chicken and a beaten egg in a stock made from “dashi” (fish broth) and soy sauce. Sliced green onions (or sometimes regular onions) are also included along with other ingredients sometimes. Once the chicken and egg are cooked, they are placed on top of a bowl of rice. The stock used will absorb some of the flavor from the chicken and egg, and the rice will absorb the stock giving it added flavor.
Because it is inexpensive and quick and easy to prepare, it is very popular with Japanese “salarymen” at lunchtime. It is recommended to eat from the bottom up, so that there is always some of the topping covering the white rice.
Several other Japanese dishes pun on the parent-and-child theme of oyakodon. Tanindon, literally “stranger rice bowl”, is identical but replaces the chicken with beef or pork. A dish of salmon and salmon roe served raw over rice (without the egg) is known as sake oyakodon, or salmon parent-child rice bowl.
Where to Find Oyakodon
There are no restaurants that specialize in Oyakodon (at least that I am familiar with). There are some fast food restaurants such as Nakau, where you can find Oyakodon at a very reasonable price. At these type of restaurants, you will first purchase your meal ticket from a vending machine, take your seat and give the wait staff your ticket. After preparing the dish, they will serve it to you at your seat.