7 Ways I like my ‘first rice’ in Japan

It’s Friday again guys, so here is today’s Blogger in the Spotlight (BITS) talking about all her favourite breakfasts in Japan.

How Do You Like Your First Rice? Breakfast is easily my favourite meal of the day. Although generally a morning person, I regret that having a good breakfast has been relegated to the luxury camp of weekends and holidays. Asagohan, or breakfast in Japanese literally means “first rice”. Like Malaysia, where rice remains a major part of breakfast, the Japanese consume rice copiously, day and night. And with new methods and cuisine borrowing firmly entrenched in modern day Japan, breakfast lovers can rejoice in the fact that there are so many ways to enjoy your first rice. Even those indifferent to rice will find their personal favourite asagohan. I like my first rice in 7 ways!

1. I like my first rice Traditional.


We partook in this traditional Japanese breakfast, Kaiseki style, served at the ryokan during our onsen jaunt in Ise last winter. The bowl of rice was the centrepiece of the meal, accompanied by an onsen tamago (perfectly poached egg), cold cuts, miso soup, side stewed dishes, a separate hotpot of silky tofu in a plain broth of seaweed and daikon and grilled fish. Finish with a great view of Ise’s infamous Meoto-Iwa or “couple rocks”, and another day of soaking in the onsen is set!

2. More often than not, I like my first rice Excessive.

Coco's 1

Coco’s, a popular chain of family restaurants, is a favourite of Mag, Taka and Ollie for their fresh bread rolls baked on premises, value-for-money buffet breakfasts and child-friendliness. The place is perfect for mornings in need of unlimited, excessive piles of protein and carbs, to counter excesses from previous evening, Coco’s change their buffet menu frequently but there will most definitely be a hearty salad counter, Western favourites like scrambled eggs and sausages and Japanese staples such as rice, soba and miso soup. All pretty tasty too!

Coco's 2-1

I especially like Coco’s generous beverage counter, which is ever present in most family restaurants in Japan. Pay a flat fee and help yourself to as much tea, freshly brewed coffee and soft drinks as you want. Of course, it’s really a pretty elementary way for these restaurants to make money because unless you drink your weight’s worth in rose hip tea or Coke, it isn’t really that much of a deal for the paying customer.

3. Some days, I like my first rice Fast.


And on days like this, nothing makes the grade quite like MOS Burger and their slew of breakfast-friendly burgers. I like this Kinpira (Burdock Root & Carrot braised in soy) Rice Burger and the illusion of being healthy… especially when paired with fat, tasty fries.

4. And on other days, I like my first rice in Triangles…


…and stuffed with a variety of fillings. Onigiri, historically the poor man’s meal, is sold at convenience stores everywhere and makes an extremely convenient, cheap and tasty snack to go. On the brutally cold morning we started our road journey to Ise, we piled into Taka’s van and drove first to Momotaro, an onigiri specialist chain exclusive to the Kansai region. We took away an assortment of fillings, including prawn (top right), minced chicken (bottom left), salmon (bottom right), beef and loads others. Not the best Onigiri I’ve had (Keikyu’s in Yokohama still come up top of mind) but definitely a mean narrative.

5. I also like my first rice, Raw and Fishy.

Negitoro Donburi

Came into discovery of this beauty Negitoro Don very late in life and I imagine I have to double up my intake of this to make up for it. Negitoro Don is essentially fatty tuna mixed in with vinegared rice, seaweed and spring onions. Spartan ingredients but the resultant flavour is complex and quite, quite ravishing.

6. I like my first rice, .. Liquid.

Shinto Beer

While I usually don’t start on the liquids until noon on holidays, this particular Shinto beer, brewed only in Ise, was hard to resist after we paid our dues at the holy Ise Jingu Shrine and meandered down Okageyokocho, teeming with souvenirs and local delicacies you can put in your mouth. Smooth, a honeyed aftertaste and instantly calming upon the first sip. I’m gutted we can’t find this anywhere else in or out of Japan.

But while the list of first rice options continues to inveigle me back to Japan, which feels like home and a strange foreign land all at once, I know my top-shelf favourite version of First Rice…


7.   …i LOVE my first rice, shared!

Books you might like:

DSC09935About this week’ Blogger in the Spotlight:

Min is a thirty something who has lived a while in New Zealand, loves to travel  and experience life first hand. Min is crazy about her first rice, but what she does not tell you immediately is that she loves her First Beer as well! She is also and accomplished beer drinker and will take on any guy, to drink him under the table. She is also a friend of mine and a terrific food blogger. If you ask her why her blog is named “After Giovanni “(like I did, and believe me it is interesting) I am sure she will tell you!

Website : After Giovanni

Twitter : @minchow

All photos are credited to the Blogger in the Spotlight


  • 3 cheers for yummy delicious (but unfortunately carb-y) rice! 🙂

    • minchow says:

      I know… but let’s face it, all the good things in life are carb-laden! Can’t live with (too much of) it, can’t live without it! 🙂

  • Oh woman! You’re making me miss my rice breakfast from Japan!

  • yogahui says:

    We had a falling out sometime ago, but u’ve made me fall in love with rice again. tx min!

    • minchow says:

      I fall out with rice all time and time again – usually after a heavy BLR meal or crazy rich dai chow dinner. But it’s easy enough to crave for it soon enough. Need a carb patch, hehe!

  • Brother B says:

    You are a Rice Queen of the Dawn ha ha ha…..i like my rice fried – that is my yardstick I use to judge how good a Chinese Restaurant is by ordering the most basic meal ( apart from white rice)

    • minchow says:

      Yes, same! I find that if they get the Fried rice right, the entire menu’s worth a go! It’s as Chinese cooking #101 as any dish can get!

  • uLi says:

    Naiisss rice 😛

  • babe_kl says:

    i msia our first rice must be nasi lemak eh :p

    • minchow says:

      Oh yeah, we’re never far behind at the mention of rice! Our Nasi Lemak’s right up there with all the best rice-based breakfasts of the world!

  • penn says:

    cool…but just a note, asagohan doesn’t mean first rice (even if it sounds cool to say that in english) it merely means ‘morning rice’ ,which is literally what breakfast means anyways…

  • gfad says:

    Rice buckets, we are. Every time I ask the kids, “what do y’all want to eat?” A resounding “Rice!”

    Sushi, briyani, risotto, paella.. nom nom nom.. 😀

  • Sean says:

    my first love was bread, but i began a torrid affair with rice in my early 20s, and i haven’t looked back since!
    y’know, i’ve never been to japan, but whenever i read about other people’s experiences there, and their musings on the sights, the food, the way of life, i know i’d love it, if/when i ever go.
    yep, i’ve also been wondering about ‘after giovanni’ for months now. i remember even googling it last year … the results were perplexing, to say the least, but provided no answer! 😀

    • minchow says:

      Ok the story is somewhat long and convoluted but basically, my sis started the blog as tribute to this deceased NZ artist Giovanni Intra. He wrote about NZ’s unhealthy and isolated obsession with vegetarianism http://bit.ly/97ejp3. We were both half hearted vegetarians and found it virtually impossible to keep up once we left NZ and hit Malaysian shores. There is jsut TOO MUCH good food to eat here! Hope that clears it up! 🙂

  • bartcatapult says:

    I wanna try no.6 🙂

    • minchow says:

      Oh it’s really really a beautiful tasting beverage. Darn, beer o’clock just arrived too! And all we’ve got on hand is local piss-like beer! 🙁

  • BaliYummyBlog says:

    RICE is my daily bread, I’m Indonesian! They said we haven’t eaten yet if we don’t eat “Nasi” / rice. Still remember on my childhood, my dad and I went to a steak house,after a full meal, we got home, then he asked my mom to maka a “Nasi Goreng”/fried rice because he said ” I haven’t eaten yet!!!” HAHAHA
    Anyway, I love the ONIGIRI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!ahhhh great blog post that made me hungry!!!

  • eiling says:

    Wah this is very interesting! I feel like having “first rice” too. Maybe we can have that here as I’m sure nasi lemak may get a lil boring after a while.

  • Julian Si says:

    Mmmmmmmmmmh… Fan Tong , I am too!

    Nasi lemak, Chicken Rice, Claypot Rice, all super duper dishes … not to mention BKT with RICE 🙂

    Cheers from Abu Dhabi!

  • AdventureRob says:

    Asian breakfasts are something I never got used to when being that. Rice and fish doesn’t seem ‘right’ for me first thing in the morning. Although I must admit it all looks good for a mid morning snack or lunch n_n

    • minchow says:

      Yeah, rice & grilled fish in the morning isn’t an everyday affair for most of us either. I personally like it for lunches more too and can’t really imagine doing it beyond Japanese shores.

  • Lovely Min! I have alws wondered abt yr blog name. 😉
    Gd to knw.

    I luv mahh carbs.. rice & bread are 2 things I cant live without..hence the need to exercise so much!
    My lunch is chap fun or else the day doesnt seem right! 😉

    Well honey..when is our overdue ‘proper’ meal ? Lets have.. RICE! Hehe

  • rokh says:

    love this post! rice is one of the main thing i love in japan too 🙂

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