Japanese Hotel Breakfasts

Many of my American (and even Japanese) friends don’t care for Japanese breakfasts. They somehow can’t fathom the thought of having fish for breakfast. That’s too bad, because we at Savory Japan think that Japanese breakfasts are one of the joys of life.

While many dutiful cooks prepare Japanese breakfasts at home, few have the time — or skill — to prepare the lavish versions featured at fine hotels and ryokan (traditional Japanese inns).

So if you’re given the choice of a Japanese or Western breakfast for the same price (or included at ryokan), go the Japanese route! You’ll not be disappointed, and it’s worth taking a detour from your usual routine.

For example, we’re currently staying at the Park Hyatt Shinjuku, and while they make some of the best bread and bakery products in the city, their Japanese breakfast is amazing.

The meal comes on a round lacquer tray with a two-tier bento box and a myriad of plates and bowls. While the usual suspects — grilled fish, miso soup, rice and pickles — are all there, stand-outs include the dashimaki (egg omelete) which is made richer with cream cheese, and covered in a delectable dashi-rich sauce that is filled with green nori.

Also included is yudofu — usually a dish served for lunch or dinner. We had the Japanese breakfast on multiple days, and the tofu and several other dishes were thoughtfully changed for us. On day two, the upper tier of the box held a stellar ohitashi of kiku (chrysanthemum petals), myoga (ginger bud) and maitake (dancing) mushrooms.

If this sounds like an awful lot of food to eat at breakfast, it is. For people used to fruit and yogurt in the morning, it can take some getting used to. But it’s a great way to start a day of walking around the city. You’ll also be able to sample some unique seasonal pickles and umeboshi (each hotel has their own specialty).

Finally, the price is right too. The Park Hyatt breakfast is 3,800 yen, which is the norm at deluxe hotels. A similar-sized meal at lunch might be 5,000 yen, and dinner, 10,000 yen. Even if you’re not staying at a luxury hotel (as we often don’t) it’s worth it to go for their breakfast.

2 Replies to “Japanese Hotel Breakfasts”

  1. Hello – I just discovered your website while researching my upcoming trip to Japan (my husband & I arrive in Tokyo next Wed 10/12/11). What an amazing find – your recommendations are so clearly high-quality & thoughtfully chosen! & I know I will love the places you recommend b/c you wrote up Higashiya – I stumbled upon their kaiseke lunch at their old Nakameguro location the last time I was in Tokyo & will never forget it.

    Thank you so much for creating this website – I’m so excited to try out some of the places you’ve been to.

  2. Dear Jasmine,

    Thanks for your kind words. We recommend only the places we’d send our friends. Many restaurants that are too expensive, don’t provide good value or are lacking in atmosphere or the all-important friendliness quotient don’t make the cut. We’ve found a few more great places during our current trip!

    -Risa

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