Hayashi rice (ハヤシライス)

Hayashi rice is a dish featuring a sauce served atop white rice, the sauce of which is cooked by stir-frying thin pieces of beef and chopped onion with butter and stewing it with red wine and demi-glace sauce. The dish, which was invented in Japan, is one of the Japan's most popular Western-style dishes. It resembles Japanese curry rice in appearance.

In Osaka and Kobe, the dish is sometimes called alternatively 'Haishi rice,' or 'Hairai' for short. It is common for Western-style cuisine restaurants to prepare the dish by stir-frying thin pieces of beef and chopped onion with tomato puree or tomato ketchup and slightly stewing it with a demi-glace sauce. Also, instant roux blocks are available.

The origin of the name

One belief is that the English name 'hashed beef with rice' (although ketchup is not used in the original recipe) was changed to 'Hasshi rice,' or, according to another version of this belief, to 'Haishi rice' and then again altered to 'Hayashi rice.'

Another theory is that the person who invented hayashi rice was a descendant of Shihei HAYASHI (virtually, a descendant of the elder sister of Shihei).

The third theory is that when eating beef was uncommon because the meat of four-legged animals was considered taboo, it was believed that if you had a dish like this, you would be punished and 'hayajini suru' (you would die young), and the public came to call the dish 'hayashi rice.'

Yet another belief is that at Sakae shopping street at the port of Moji, a port that developed as a gateway to mainland China after the (First) Sino-Japanese War during the Meiji period, a bistro served rushed passengers a ketchup based rice dish, which was nicknamed 'hayai (fast) rice' and came to be called hayashi rice.

As can be seen from the above description, there are several beliefs about the origin of the name of the dish.

Birthplace

There are various beliefs as to the birthplace of hayashi rice, and currently many restaurants allege that they are the originator.

An article in the "Maruzen Hyakunenshi" (100 Years of Maruzen) reads that Yuteki HAYASHI, the founder of Maruzen, treated his friends to stewed vegetable dishes served with rice, which became popular and came to be called 'hayashi rice,' and the dish also appeared on the menus of restaurants before long.

This allegation is refuted by another article in the book, which points out that this episode is too convenient to be valid, and says that hashed beef was a popular dish at that time at Mikawaya, a Western-style restaurant located in Kanda Sakuma-cho, which was founded in the first year of the Meiji period. The article continues, 'There is little doubt that the hashed beef dish in question combined with rice was somehow came to be called 'hayashi rice,' but, taking into account that Mikawaya was one of Yuteki's favorite restaurants, it is not unsafe to assume that Yuteki was indirectly involved with the birth of hayashi rice.

Apart from these articles, a restaurant inside a Maruzen shop served hayashi rice under the name of "早矢仕 rice" (Yuteki's family name 'HAYASHI' is spelled as '早矢仕' in Chinese characters). Maruzen released canned (vacuum-packed) hayashi rice under its own brand name.

Cooking ingredients

Beef is commonly used, but pork is used in some cases (in this case, the dish is called 'pork hayashi.')
Ingredients sometimes include button mushrooms, shimeji mushrooms, king trumpet mushrooms, or thin sliced pieces of Chinese black mushrooms or carrots. One of the variations of the dish is 'omurice,' which features a plain omlette served atop rice.

Raisu (Rice) HAYASHIYA

Raisu (Rice) HAYASHIYA, who, after a hiatus, was converted from a rakugo storyteller (a disciple of Kokatsu MIMASUYA, the 6th) to a stand-up comedian (a disciple of Sanpei HAYASHIYA, the first), was obviously named after hayashi rice (of course, by Sanpei HAYASHIYA). Raisu's personality together with an episode of his discontinuance of (expulsion from) the rakugo storyteller career are related by "Danshi Gakuya Banashi" (Greenroom Talk of Danshi, publisher: Bunshu Bunko) authored by Danshi (TATEKAWA). Incidentally, both the Kokatsu (MIMASUYA) family and the Sanpei (HAYASHIYA) family belong to the Katsura BUNRAKU (the 8th) family. Raisu performs a double act with his wife, whose stage name is Kareko (curry powder) HAYASHIYA. Raisu's eldest son is a performer of "Daikagura" (lion dance), Katsuma OKINAYA (a member of the Daigakugra Kyokugei Kyokai group and a member of the Rakugo Kyokai association), and his eldest daughter is Maruko HAYASHIYA, an entertainer.