Big Food, Japanese Style
by Michelle "Ms. Geek" Klein-Hass
Japanese food, or washoku, is usually thought of this way: elegant meals with tiny and beautifully presented portions.
The United States of America, on the other hand, usually seems like the home of Big Food. Monster portions, a hideous amount of calories, buffets that would sink the Titanic. But Japan is giving the US a run for its money in the category of eye-popping portions and insane all-you-can-eat (and all-you-can-drink) deals.
The Japanese call this kind of stunt food o-mori. This means, literally, "big portions," but in reality it means "too much food." And there seems to be a competition among Japanese restaurants to outdo the others in pure mass quantities. Some restaurants even forego calling their big portions o-mori in favor of names suggesting that their portions are bigger than their competitors. eka-mori, mega-mori, giga-mori, toku-mori...the normally understated Japanese get downright hyperbolic when describing these monster meals.
Then again, when you are talking about plates like these, it becomes clear than there is no understatement involved. Holy cow, this is a Gyudon (Beef Bowl) that could feed The Incredible Hulk:
And this is a slightly less artery-clogging alternative in Big Eats: a monster Chirashi-zushi Don, (Sushi and rice bowl) that features a mind-boggling variety of fish. This actually looks appealing IMHO...
Of course, Japan loves its westernized food too, and also "western" food with distinctly Japanese touches, which is called yoshoku. For example, there's the Maid Cafe staple Omurice, or rice omelet. However, you've probably never seen an omurice that's this big:
And technically Tempura, the fried shrimp and veggie dish much beloved of American Japanese food fans, is also yoshoku, having been borrowed from the Portuguese during the early Tokugawa Shogunate period. However, the Portuguese never imagined a Ten-don (tempura bowl) that's 3.3 pounds (1.5 kilos) worth of rice and fried yummies...
Another cuisine that Japan liberally borrows from is China. The original Japanese "Big Food" is Ramen, the Chinese noodle soup that's not even considered Chinese anymore, but natively Japanese. The usual bowl of Ramen is actually quite big.
However, not even Ramen is safe from o-mori supersizing.
And if you would rather get more meat with your Ramen than anything else, they can fill your needs too.
Tellingly, however, the king of stunt food is the Japan-only burger restaurant Lotteria. Known for monster burgers with Tower Of Babel-style stacks of beef patties, they recently announced that they would once again be putting their "burger with everything" on the menu for a limited time. If you want to see what it looks like, scroll up and check out the lead image. It has four patties: hamburger, cheeseburger, shrimp burger, and what the firm says is a "rib burger." It includes more cheese, bacon, and a soft-boiled egg. It's topped with lettuce, cabbage, tomato and onion; and sauced with teriyaki sauce, regular mayonnaise, spicy mayo, tartar sauce, "meat sauce" and ketchup. Open wide...it's available at Lotteria until May 31st.