—photo by Chiaki Matsumoto—
Omu-Rice stands for omelet & rice. I had my first taste of Omu-Rice on Tuesday night at Tokyo Bar in Tribeca (NYC). I was brought there by my good friend Chiaki Matsumoto documentalist & filmaker. We had dinner with Kenji Hayasaki, also filmmaker and artistic manager of the Tokyo Bar. Omu-rice is part of Yoshoku food (洋食), which means Japanese style Western food, while Washoku food (和食) is traditional style Japanese food.
According to a New York Times article writen by Norimistu Onishi and published March 26, 2008:
Yoshoku was born during Japan’s Meiji Restoration, the period that followed this isolationist country’s forced opening by America’s so-called Black Ships in 1854. Japanese were dispatched to Europe and America to learn about Western laws, weapons and industry. They also brought back the cuisine. Shocked to discover how much shorter they were than Westerners, Japanese determined that they would catch up not only economically and militarily but also physically, by eating their food.
There is several version of Omu-Rice but the most consensual recipe tends to be the following one :
Fry (already cooked rice) rice with onions, peppers, ketchup, chicken & mushrooms. Then wrap the rice in a thin omelet. Ketchup and sometimes demi-glace go on top.
I am glad that Chiaki & Kenji didn’t tell me anything about the dish until it came because I would have been very suspicious. This combination sounded heavy & my French upbringing —sometimes unconscious— does not register omelet & rice as a possible combination. It was truly delicious and comforting, and brought back some memories.
My grandfather, Chef Joseph Peyrafitte, who cooked in England in the early 1900 , brought back ketchup & Savora to our Pyreneen hometown. I never saw him use ketchup for any of the dishes at our family restaurant, however he always had a bottle hidden somewhere and when he wanted to win me over he made me a big plate of coquillettes (little macaroni) mixed with ketchup and topped with grated gruyère!
So if you want to try Japanese comfort food dishes, Tokyo Bar is the place. The ambiance and the decor are are aso various events and various djs spin on regular basis. I still have to return to try the Japanese pasta dish : 小ヤリイカと辛子明太子のフェデリーニ or Fedelini w/squid & spicy cod roe and the Tokyo Curry 東京カレー.
A bientot & sayonara