Kaisen Don vs. Chirashi Sushi: What’s the Difference?

Typically consisting of thinly sliced fresh raw fish and shellfish, Sashimi (刺身) is a traditional Japanese dish to savor the original taste of natural ingredients.

We usually eat Sashimi on its own, dipping it in soy sauce and putting a little bit of wasabi (grated Japanese horseradish), but as you know, we also enjoy the fish slices on top of rice.

Kaisen Don vs. Chirashi Sushi (Chirashi Zushi)

When it comes to the rice dish of sliced raw fish, Sushi (寿司) is the best-known, but in Japan, the rice with sliced fish also comes in a Donburi (丼), and the representative is Kaisen Don (海鮮丼).

Kaisen Don is similar to Chirashi Sushi or Chirashi Zushi (ちらし寿司) because of which many people confuse them. So today, let me explain what exactly they are.

Kaisen Don (海鮮丼)

Kaisen Don

First, Kaisen Don is a Japanese rice bowl dish or a Donburi made of plain white rice topped with thinly sliced raw fish and shellfish, as Kaisen (海鮮) means seafood.

Not Sushi restaurants, but Japanese seafood restaurants typically offer Kaisen Don. Therefore, this Donburi doesn’t contain elaborate Sashimi slices that require the skill and technique of the Sushi chef.

There are many variations of Kaisen Don in Japan, but the dish’s typical toppings are tuna, sea bream, scallop, salmon, squid, prawn, octopus, crab meat, Ikura, and Uni or sea urchin roe.

Kaisen Don usually uses various ingredients, but some only consist of just one variety of topping (Ex. Maguro-Don, Ikura-Don, Uni-Don).


Chirashi Sushi (ちらし寿司)

Kanto-Style Edomae Chirashi ZushiEdomae Chirashi Zushi

On the other hand, Chirashi Sushi (Chirashi Zushi), also known as scattered Sushi in English-speaking countries, comes in two styles in Japan.

One is scattered Sushi, consisting of Sumeshi (酢飯: vinegared rice) mixed with seasoned ingredients such as Shiitake mushroom, Kanpyo gourd, carrot, and lotus root, and sprinkled with thinly shredded egg omelets and nori.

Meanwhile, the other type is similar to Kaisen Don, consisting of a bed of rice topped with various Sushi toppings.

But unlike Kaisen Don, offered by Sushi restaurants, this Chirashi Sushi too uses Sumeshi vinegared rice.

As for the container, while Kaisen Don usually uses a large-sized ceramic bowl, Chirashi Sushi typically comes in a square or round wooden rice chest.

Chirashi Sushi
(Reference Pages: Wikipedia 海鮮丼, ちらし寿司 )


Hi, I'm Tomo, a Japanese blogger living in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. For the purpose of enriching your life, I would like to introduce things about Japan on this blog, especially unique Japanese products, cooking recipes, cultures, and facts and trivia.

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