The Best Fried Rice in Tokyo

What is Japanese Chahan (fried rice) and where to go for the best restaurants in Tokyo.

July 20, 2019

Fried rice (炒飯, Chahan) first arrived in Japan from China over a thousand years ago during the 7th to 9th centuries. This was around the time when rice was becoming the staple food among the Japanese people.

Origin of Chahan (Fried Rice) in Japan

During this time, Japan sent envoys to China’s Tang Dynasty and imported various cultures and systems, including food culture. Cooking methods such as “cooking rice with sesame oil” were recorded in books from the Heian period. However, this method of cooking rice with oil did not become widespread. The current form of chahan, as we know it in Japan, became popular after the Meiji period, in the late 19th century, long after the original version of the dish was introduced to Japan. Since then, many Chinese restaurants began to open up in Japan, and chahan quickly became a popular dish among Japanese people.

How did Japanese Chahan (Fried Rice) Evolve Over Time?

At first, chahan was made with imported Chinese ingredients such as soy sauce, sesame oil, and oyster sauce. However, over time, Japanese cooks began to adapt the dish to suit their own tastes, adding ingredients such as green onions, carrots, and mushrooms.

During World War II, chahan became an important part of Japanese cuisine as a source of nutrition during a time of food shortages. After the war, it continued to be a popular and affordable dish that could be found in restaurants and made at home. Today, chahan remains a beloved dish in Japan and is commonly found on menus at Chinese and Japanese restaurants alike. It is typically made with leftover rice that is stir-fried with vegetables, eggs, and meat or seafood, seasoned with soy sauce and other ingredients, and served as a flavorful and filling meal.

Fried rice, which originally came from China via the Silk Road, has inspired various versions in many Western countries today, such as “Paella” in Spain and “Pilaf” in Turkey and France. As a result, the Chahan (Fried Rice) found in Japan is quite distinct from the fried rice commonly found in China or other parts of the world.

Japanese Chahan (Fried Rice)

How is Chahan (Fried Rice) Cooked?

Chahan is made by stir-frying cooked rice with vegetables, meat, and eggs in a wok or skillet. The ingredients are cooked with soy sauce, salt, and pepper to taste, which gives the dish its unique flavor. Some popular ingredients include carrots, green peas, corn, bean sprouts, mushrooms, chicken, shrimp, pork, beef, green onions, and cilantro. Chahan is a quick and easy meal that can be made in about 20 minutes, making it a perfect option for busy weeknights. It’s a hearty and satisfying dish that is sure to please everyone at the dinner table.

Popular Chahan (Fried Rice) Restaurants in Tokyo

The below restaurant in Shibuya offers a delicious “Crab Fried Rice (Kani Chahan)”:

Kani Chahan Shibuya (かにチャーハン渋谷店)

Also, “Chahan King” is one of the most popular Chahan chain stores in Japan.

Chahan King Shimbashi (チャーハン王 新橋店)

Garlic Beef Chahan at “Chahan King Shimbashi”, Image from

Chahan King has an official guide as to “how to taste Chahan” when dining at the restaurant:

How to Taste Chahan (Fried Rice) at “Chahan King”

  1. Taste the soup
  2. Taste Chahan (Fried Rice)
  3. Taste Chahan and soup together
  4. Add a spoon of a special sauce to the Fried Rice and taste the Chahan
  5. Taste “the special sauce added Chahan” and the soup together

Anyway, I hope you’ll get to try quality Fried Rice in Japan!

Japan Insider

Japan Insider is a Tokyo-based media platform that provides an up-to-date flow of unique news and cultural insights into what’s happening in Japan today.

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