Okay, it’s a fact that the Japanese love “gyudon" -- braised beef and onions on rice, sometimes topped with a raw egg. All over Japan, you can find a gyudon shop on almost every street.
But what if you’re in a mood for something other than a beef rice bowl? Well, we’ve found a shop that offers an excellent alternative, “buta-don“, or pork on rice. And we’re not talking about just any regular buta-don. At this shop, you can order an extra-large buta-don that really piles the pork on – so much, in fact, that you can barely see the bowl beneath all the pork.
The shop where our reporter had the ultra large buta-don is located close to the JR Shimbashi Station in Tokyo and is aptly named “Buta Daigaku”, which translates to “Pork University” in English. Well, if this shop is a “university”, then they probably have no shortage of willing students (aka customers) coming in for a lesson on how to enjoy a tasty pork rice bowl, especially with the large number of office workers based in the Shimbashi area.
When we went in to the shop, the first thing that impressed us was that the staff all were very energetic, greeting us in loud voices. Hmm, the staff must be eating a lot of that buta-don to have so much energy. Their voices indeed may have been startlingly loud at times, but we liked the high-energy atmosphere.
At Buta Daigaku, you can’t expect the food to come out quickly like at some of the ubiquitous beef bowl chain restaurants, since they start cooking the pork only after an order has been received, but this means that you get your pork rice bowl steaming hot and fresh after about a 10-minute wait. You won’t be served cold food at Buta Daigaku.
Naturally, we ordered the extra-large pork rice bowl (“toku-dai” size), which was the largest on the menu. The rice and pork combined weighed a total of 1 kg, and we were slightly concerned at first whether we would be able to finish the entire dish, but once the food arrived, we realized there really was nothing to worry about. Despite the enormous quantity of pork that practically covered the entire bowl, the savory aroma of the meat and sauce seriously stirred up our appetite.
When we actually started eating the buta-don, we were amazed at how tender and succulent the pork was. Slightly brown on the outside, the meat itself was incredibly soft and almost melted in the mouth. The mildly sweet sauce tasted wonderful combined with the rice, and before long, we were eagerly eating up the buta-don with gusto. With 1 kg of the pork and rice, it did get a bit heavy near the end, but we were able to eventually finish the entire dish. Although we thoroughly enjoyed the buta-don, you may want to start first with the medium-size serving (“chu-mori“), which is still quite filling. You can also enjoy the rice bowl as an “ochazuke” by pouring hot clear soup over the rice, which is nice if you want to change the taste of the dish a little during your meal.
If you’re ever in the Shimbashi area and hungry for a hearty meal, consider enrolling at the Pork University!
Restaurant Information: Buta Daigakau Address: New Shimbashi Building, 2-16-1, Shimbashi, Minaot-ku, Tokyo Business Hours: Mon – Fri 10:30 to 21:45, Weekends & Holidays 11:00 to 15:00, 16:30 to 20:15 Open Everyday© RocketNews24