Rice with a topping: a simple but delicious food, consumed from one end of Japan to the other.
The donburi is a staple dish of Japanese cuisine. The name reflects its simplicity, since the word, sometimes abbreviated as don, literally means "big bowl" in Japanese.
The principle is simple: a bowl filled with steamed white rice, or gohan, crowned with a topping (often a soft omelet with onions accompanied by meat or fish). Note that even if there are more popular recipes than others, one can create their own donburi with the ingredients they want, this practice even has a name: pâsonaru-don ("personal-don"). Its popularity stems from the fact that the donburi is both simple to prepare and very filling.
Here are some of the most popular donburi in Japan, which should definitely be sampled if you get the opportunity:
Unadon - 鰻 丼
A bowl of rice topped by grilled eel. The unadon was the first donburi ever served. It was invented in the Edo period (1603-1867) to allow viewers to eat during the long hours of Noh theatre performances, quickly and discreetly. The idea caught on and during the Meiji era (1868-1912) became a staple dish.
Katsudon - カツ丼
A bowl of rice topped with a breaded pork cutlet accompanied by softly-cooked egg and onions.
Oyakodon - 親子丼
The name of this type of donburi literally means "parent and child bowl" a somewhat disturbing name referring to the fact that the main ingredients are chicken and egg.
Gyudon - 牛丼
A bowl of rice topped with thinly sliced simmered beef and onions. It can also be served with egg.
Kaisendon - 海鮮丼
This is one of the few cold donburi, which is topped with sashimi (raw fish and other seafood).
Tendon - 天丼
This is the only donburi of the list that can be vegetarian. It consists of a bowl of rice topped by tempura, batter-fried vegetables (and pieces of meat, fish or shrimp), drizzled with a soy-based sauce.