LWIF EP18: What Japanese Lunch is Like (Chahan)

Shoko and Aiko make some lunch, which includes chahan (Japanese fried rice), viking salad (バイキングサラダ), and peach jelly for dessert.

Shoko was the one who made up the menu, which we tore out of her notebook and put on the fridge.

Shoko's menu (which she didn't exactly follow)
Shoko’s menu (which she didn’t exactly follow)

She only made the チャーハン (Japanese fried rice) and サラダ (salad) part of the menu. Here’s what she actually put in the fried rice:

  • Sesame seed oil
  • Onions
  • Cooked rice
  • Egg
  • Soy sauce
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Jako (雑魚 – dried minnow a.k.a baby fish)

She also had carrots and bonito flakes (かつおぶし) in the recipe, but she couldn’t find the bonito flakes and she decided not to use the carrots.

The most difficult part of the recipe was the onions.


There were a few tears shed.


The fried rice had dried minnows in it, which I had avoided eating to this very day. But how could I deny trying the food that these two little girls made. The fish tasted like fish (duh!), but not too fishy, so it was better than I was expecting.


I had no clue what バイキングサラダ meant until writing this post, when I figured out it meant viking salad. It’s called that as you can take as much as you want. Is this insensitive to vikings?

When all was said and done, the lunch looked like this:

Mugi-cha (roasted barley tea), chahan (Japanese fried rice), and viking salad.

To finish things off, we had some peach jelly for dessert. Squeeze a little bit out and eat! But don’t do it like me (I tried to suck it out). The jelly used to come in little cups, but because the jelly is thick, it could get stuck in throats and caused some deaths amongst children and seniors. The new packaging limits the amount you can push out. Little bites people. whereimfrom_019_lunch_to_speedgrade.00_07_23_10.Still004whereimfrom_019_lunch_to_speedgrade.00_07_29_28.Still005

There are lots of different lunches that can be made, so I’m sure we’ll make some different lunches in the future. Any requests?

What’s lunch like where you’re from?

22 comments on LWIF EP18: What Japanese Lunch is Like (Chahan)

  • Vienesse datu

    Hello I’m Vienesse Datu age 11 I live in California,
    Where I’m from in California we eat lots of food one of the things I love to eat is PIZZA but mostly what my parents give me. What exactly we eat are ice cream, pizza,hamburger,hotdog,spaghetti,meatballs and other things. Usually we deep fry stuff frays things and bake things or smoke things and what ever how you can cook the food or buy. But today I ate McDonalds but it was from yesterday so it was kind of cold ?. I just have a question for you camera man can you teach me how to speak Japanese please I just know a little bit thanks!!!!

    • lifewhereimfrom (author)

      Thanks for sharing. Haha, no, I’m terrible at Japanese (although I’ve been studying hard lately). – The cameraman

  • Vienesse datu

    In my photo I am drinking soda and eating Japanese curry

  • SEA monster

    Hello Aiko and Shoko! You make a great team and I very much enjoyed your culinary endeavor. Although, much like Aiko’s dad, I am not sure about the fishy thing added to the rice. I would appreciate it, if you showed us how to prepare okonomiyaki the next time you decide to cook. Thank you!

    Hmmm, the peach jelly …. Hahaha!

    • lifewhereimfrom (author)

      We don’t have an okonomiyaki maker (pan), but I believe Shoko owns one, so perhaps we can go to her house and make it there.

      • SEA monster

        That would be awesome!

  • Archie

    My wife and I live in Hong Kong, but we were born and raised in the Philippines. Yesterday, we had “Sopas” for lunch, a traditional Filipino dish (which most likely came from Spain), made of macaroni, chicken, and sausage in milk and chicken broth.

    My wife and I have had a life-long interest in Japanese culture, and we are big fans of Life Where I’m From. Thanks for sharing snippets of your life with us. I also use your show to widen the world-view of my Hong Kong students; we watched the “Breakfast” episode (one of my favorites) in class recently, and they loved it.

    This “Lunch” episode is great as well. Fried rice is a big part of our diet (from both our Philippine and Hong Kong backgrounds), but when we do it it’s usually egg first and then rice. Next time we’ll try what Shoko and Aiko did and mix the egg with the rice before cooking.

    • lifewhereimfrom (author)

      That sopas looks really good. I’ve never tried a dish like that! That’s so neat that you’re showed your class the breakfast video. Thanks for sharing.

  • Franziska

    Wow, they done great! My husband don’t like fish, so he was very supriesed when he realized the baby fish. I know how it feels to cry cause of a onion. My husband have to cut it for me sometimes.
    Most time we cook japanese food, because i like it very much. Today we were eating stuffed lotusroot. Most recipes are from “Cooking with dog”.

    I’m sorry, today my english is stuck somewhere in my head and don’t want to come out.

    So, in German: Alles liebe!


    • lifewhereimfrom (author)

      I’m always impressed by how well Germans speak English!

  • Mayra martine

    Hi I’m 12 I live in Texas in the USA I am Mexican and I know Spanish English and learning Japanese when I grow up I will go to Japan and go to collage there my dream is to be able to go to Japan one day. さよなら

  • Jeilyn Moses

    Hello! This is Jeilyn again! My uncle made onigiri for lunch today! But it’s different from Japanese onigiri. We like to put vegetables and tuna fish inside our rice balls. We also dip it in shoyu (just a little, not too much!) The rice balls were sticky! The first one I ate fell apart though.

    Rice balls are a special treat. Usually, I eat sandwiches or something. During school, I eat hamburgers, nachos, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, ravioli, and lots of other things.

    My aunt says that only Americans like peanut butter. Do you guys like peanut butter in Japan? It’s delicious!

    • lifewhereimfrom (author)

      Thanks for sharing Jeilyn.

      I don’t know if there’s any one way to have onigiri.

      Yes, Japanese eat peanut butter. Perhaps it’s not as popular as in America, but you can get in any grocery store and I’ve seen it inside of buns you can buy as well.

    • Jana

      Hy Jeylin!

      I’m German, and peanut butter is not a thing over here. But our neighbors to the west, the Dutch, LOVE peanut butter! My wife is American and while she thinks that German peanut butter is okay in a pinch, she adores the Dutch version she’s come across.

      German for “peanut butter” = Erdnussbutter. Dutch = pindakaas (peanut cheese. Because Dutch.)

  • Néstor Pérez

    This is how lunch looks like when you go camping in my country El Salvador.

    • lifewhereimfrom (author)

      So that looks like chicken? What about the round discs?

      • Néstor Pérez

        Yep! It is free range hen and the round discs are Salvadoran tortillas made of corn. They are thicker than Mexican tortillas.

  • Artist Johnson

    Because bento boxes have become so popular in the west (I even ordered 1 from Mr Bento). Does your family prepare the elaborate, ornate bento boxes? If so how about sharing the preparation that goes into them. I also really enjoy the tamagoyaki I learned to make when I first got into bento’s. I never thought of using maple syrup as you did. I have to try that when I buy an actual tamagoyaki pan.

    • lifewhereimfrom (author)

      I answered below Artist, but I don’t know if you saw since I didn’t reply directly to the post. Cheers!

  • lifewhereimfrom (author)

    Hey, our family does prepare bento boxes on special occasions. We’ve made bento boxes for school field trips, a cherry blossom viewing, and a school sports day for example. Maybe 4-5 times a year. Here’s some bento boxes made while attending the school sports day. We’ll try and do a bento box video some time. Thanks for watching!

  • Jocelyn Hailey

    Make more food videos please! I’d like to try more of the recipes you guys share!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Max 3 images (4.88MB an image). File types: jpeg, pjpeg, png.

Embed a Youtube video! Just copy and paste the video link on a separate line (or it'll show up as a link instead of displaying the video).

Please only post images that are yours to share (We wouldn't want to unwittingly use someone else's photos without permission).