Japanese B-Grade Food: Hanton Rice (ハントンライス)

In a country where food packaging and displays are meticulously presented, regardless of whether you’re in a wealthy neighborhood food market or standard issue convenience store, the same idea also applies to meals.

If you go to a high-end omakase (おまかせ・お任せ) — that is, one where the chef chooses your menu — sushi restaurant, each piece will be placed onto your geta (下駄), or wooden tray, as if it were a work of art.

On the other hand, if you’re in a casual place to eat, those chefs generally don’t slouch either. It could be a beef bowl, ramen, or omuraisu, but when presented to you, it still looks like an exhibit … in a food museum anyway.

This transitions us to the Japanese genre of food called B-kyu gurume (B級 グルメ). In English, it would be translated to something like B-grade food, and refers to cheap ingredients that “appeal to the masses.” Think carnival fare, fried stuff, and things that you might have dreamed of us once, but never dared to try in the kitchen.

Hanton rice (ハントンライス) is one of those things. Hailing from the city of Kanazawa, what started off as fried fish with paprika atop an egg and pasta has become something equally carb-heavy.

Curious? The more recent version has fried shrimp, fried pork, a fried croquette, and omuraisu, basically an omelette filled with rice mixed with ketchup. For toppings, ketchup and tartar sauce were thrown into the nuttiness.

Sounds too good to be true? Perhaps ….


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