Japan Debates: What’s the Best Raw Egg on Rice Recipe?

Unseen Japan
4 min readFeb 16, 2024

Do you stir before putting the egg on — or after? And IS there one right way to eat tamago kake gohan, Japan’s famous raw egg on rice dish?

Picture: Nishihama / PIXTA(ピクスタ)

By Jay Allen

It’s such a simple dish you wouldn’t think there’d be any debate about it. But a huge question surrounds Japan’s tamago kake gohan, a.k.a. TKG: When do you stir the egg?!

The popularity of tamago kake gohan

Picture: gontabunta / PIXTA(ピクスタ)

Egg-based cuisine in Japan is nothing new. As an inexpensive source of protein, eggs have found their way into a number of popular Japanese dishes, from omuraisu (omelet rice) to tamagoyaki to egg salad sandwiches.

But Japan stands out for its use of raw eggs in food. Many in Japan eat dishes like tsukimi udon and sukiyaki with a raw egg cracked on top of the dish.

Perhaps one of the most popular raw egg dishes is tamago kake gohan. TKG is exactly what its name says it is: a heap of (gohan) with an egg (tamago) placed on top of it (kake). You mix the egg into the steaming hot rice, pour on some soy sauce or tsuyu sauce, and you have a nice accompaniment to your meal (or a meal in and of itself).

Tamago kake gohan dates back to Japan’s Meiji era, when eggs first began to gain popularity in the country. It didn’t take off until the Taisho and Showa eras, however, when eggs became more readily available to the public.

Some reports say that a new trend is starting to challenge TKG in Japan: TKM, short for “tamago kake men” (卵かけ麺). Said to originate from Kumagaya in Saitama Prefecture, this involves putting raw egg on top of noodles as opposed to on rice. While this option may be gaining steam, there’s little doubt that TKG will remain a ready favorite of many for years to come.

The tamago kake gohan debate: Mix the egg first? Or after?

Picture: すとらいぷ / PIXTA(ピクスタ)