Rice Omelet (Omu rice) (オムライス)
A rice omelet is a rice dish of Japanese origin; it is chicken fried rice (or plain butter-fried rice) seasoned with ketchup and wrapped up with a thin round crepe of fried eggs, which is categorized as yoshoku (Western food) in Japan. The term omu rice is a word made in Japan.
Fry beaten eggs in a frying pan until half cooked and put some chicken fried rice in the middle of the fried eggs. Fold the top and bottom sides of fried eggs over the rice to form an omelet ishaped like a leaf and the place it on a dish. It is often served with ketchup on the top.
There are several restaurants that are self-claimed birthplaces of the rice omelet, but 'Hokkyokusei' in Shinsaibashi, Osaka City and 'Rengatei' in Ginza, Tokyo are well-known and are likely to be where the rice omelet originated.
The rice Omelet at Rengatei is fried rice with eggs and other ingredients, more like a type of Chinese-style fried rice. Their rice omelet was originally cooked for the restaurant staff but, subsequently, the restaurant began to cater to the requests of their patrons.
Today, it is on the menu of Rengatei as the 'Original Rice Omelet.'
The restaurant also offers the regular omelet.
The rice omelet at Hokkyokusei is ketchup-flavored fried rice wrapped withfried eggs being the root of mainstream rice omelets offered today. It is said thatthe rice omelet was invented for a regular patron with a sensitive stomach who always ordered an omelet and plain rice and, in sympathy for the patron eating the same thing all the time, the restaurant owner one day cooked up a rice omelet for a change.
Since Hokkyokusei is located in Osaka, whereas, Rengatei is located in Tokyo with their versions of rice omelet being different, it is very difficult to determine which one is the original. rice omelet
Based on various facts such as that Rengatei began to offer the Original Rice Omelet in 1901, whereas, Hokkyokusei started to cook the rice omelet with ketchup-flavored rice in 1926 and the years that these restaurants were established (1895 for Rengatei and 1922 for Hokkyokusei), it is generally considered that the Rengatei version is the original according to various magazines and books.
In the movie 'Tampopo' (literally, dandelion), a different variation of the rice omelet recipe in which a plain omelet, half-cooked and soft inside, is placed on top of ketchup-flavored chicken fried rice. At the table, the center of the omelet is split open lengthwise to allow the soft, half-cooked eggs to drape over the rice.
This variation of rice omelet was the brainchild of Juzo ITAMI and was developed by Taimeiken, the old establishment of yoshokuya (restaurants serving Western food) in Nihonbashi, Tokyo (Chuo Ward, Tokyo). Today, it is on the menu under the name of 'Tampopo Rice Omelet (Juzo Itami Style)' being one of the specialties of that restaurant.
In recent years, a rice omelet has been a regular item on the menu at the maid café (coffee shop where waitresses are dressed in maid's uniforms). A rice omelet is referred to as the 'Moe Omu' when the waitress (maid) writes a message or draws a picture (ASCII art) on the top with ketchup as a part of the service which has become common at these cafes.
When plain white rice, instead of ketchup-flavored chicken fried rice, is wrapped in an omelet, with sauce such as curry, demiglace or hashed beef being poured over, it is often referred to as 'omu something' such as 'omu-kare' (rice omelet with curry sauce) or 'omu-hayashi' (rice omelet with hashed beef sauce) being distinguished from a rice omelet. When fried soba noodles seasoned with Worcester sauce are wrapped in eggs instead of ketchup-flavored chicken fried rice, it is referred to as 'omu soba' (noodle omelet). This noodle omelet is a regular item on the menu at Okonomiyaki (Japanese-style pancake containing vegetables and other foodstuff) restaurants in the Kansai area.
Some Chinese noodle shops serve a dish of Chinese fried rice wrapped in eggs which is referred to as 'omu chahan' (Chinese fried rice omelet). With omu chahan, the fried eggs are often inverted with the soft, half-cooked side being on top, which is the reverse of the usual manner for making a rice omelet, when wrapping the fried rice. Additionally, for omu chahan, ketchup is not used and, instead, the finely-chopped scraps of roast pork (chankoma) are placed on the top and the roast pork gravy is poured over as a finishing touch.
Omu chahan is sometimes topped with Chinese-style chili sauce (and, if sweet and sour sauce is used, it transforms to Tenshin-han [Tianjin-style rice].)
There are some restaurants famous for their omu chahan dishes including 'China Cook Ryuka' in Chuo Ward, Tokyo and 'Mannen' in Kita Ward, Osaka City.