What the Heck Is Chawanmushi?

This Japanese custard is trending
September 2, 2014
by Megan Giller

What Is It?

Chawanmushi is a traditional Japanese savory custard made with eggs mixed with ingredients like soy, dashi or mirin and often includes mushrooms and seafood. It’s eaten hot or cold, with a spoon. 

What's the Big Deal?

Philip Speer, Uchi and Uchiko’s director of operations in Austin, Texas, loves the dish and features it often at both restaurants. “The texture is delicious,” he says. “The simple, delicious ingredients on the bottom and then the creamy custard that’s almost like silken tofu on top.” Speer adds that you’ll usually find chawanmushi at nicer restaurants, since it reflects “the skill level of the chef.”

Where Can You Find It?

Brushstroke, New York City  
Golden crab and chanterelles stud this truffle-ankake version (above). Add Australian black truffles if you want to go for the gold.

Ame, San Francisco  
The upscale New American restaurant takes the Japanese dish to a new level with lobster, sea urchin, shiitake and mitsuba (a Japanese wild parsley) sauce.

Uchiko, Austin  
Though the special rotates through different flavors, the one with dashi, tapioca, uni, mitsuba and lemon stands out.

Takashi, Chicago  
Head to the Bucktown neighborhood on Sundays, where you’ll find a traditional version of the custard on the restaurant’s noodles and tapas menu.

O Ya, Boston  
How many quail eggs does it take to make chawanmushi? Find out at O Ya, with the bonus addition of uni, trout roe, dashi and soy-maple sauce for good measure.

Chiso, Seattle  
A fully loaded version with crab, shrimp, shiitake mushrooms and spinach.

philip speer