Don’t knock raw egg on rice until you’ve tried it, and especially until you’ve tried it like this.

Citizens of western countries may balk at the idea of eating raw eggs, but in Japan it’s a popular topping for beef bowls, noodle dishes, and even pasta. In fact, cracking a raw egg over a plain bowl of rice, letting the heat of the grains flash cook it fora moment, and pouring on some soy sauce is a choice meal for many Japanese because it’s quick, delicious, and cheap. It’s called tamago-kake gohan, or TKG for short.

So when our Japanese-language reporter Yuichiro Wasai stumbled upon a pop-up shop specializing in ingredients for the perfect TKG in the middle of always-busy Tokyo Station, he had to get some of their specially made, high-quality products to see how they compare to ordinary supermarket ones.

The stand he found is called the “Maboroshi no Tamago-ya-san”, or the “Phantom Egg Shop”, because it doesn’t stay in one place for long, but Yuichiro ran into it quite by accident near Tokyo Station’s bullet train gates. A shop dedicated to creating the perfect tamago-kake gohan, they sell high quality eggs from all over Japan by the unit, meaning you can buy just one egg if you so desire. According to the staff, the shop also supports small farmers who are having a hard time selling their eggs because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The kinds of eggs available vary by the day. When Yuichiro went, he saw “Nihon-ichi Kodawari”, or “Japan’s Most Special Eggs”, which won first prize at the first ever TKG Festival, and Premium Okukuji eggs, which are apparently super high quality eggs you can’t find in most stores. The even had yuzu citrus eggs, which we’re already fans of!

They all looked good, and Yuichiro had no idea which one would be best for his TKG, so he asked the staff for help. “I recommend buying several different kinds to try so you can decide which one you like best,” they said. “Personally, I suggest starting with the Nihon-ichi Kodawari egg.” So Yuichiro picked up two of those and a few other varieties to try.

But of course, to make the perfect TKG, you need more than eggs. Maboroshi no Tamago-ya-san also sells soy sauce and rice that are perfect for TKG, as well as other condiments you might like to add, like black vinegar specifically formulated to be eaten with TKG. In short, this stand has everything you would need to build the most delicious TKG you will ever eat.

Together with the eggs, Yuichiro also snapped up some of the shop’s specialty soy sauce and some Ichihomare rice. The rice cost 400 yen (US$3.75) for 300 grams (10 ounces), the eggs were six for 800 yen no matter which varieties you choose, and the soy sauce 1,100 yen. However, they have an egg and soy sauce bundle price for just 1,800 yen, so his total bill came out to 2,200 yen. It’s a little pricey for tamago-kake gohan, which is supposed to be a cheap meal, but he figured it was worth it to see if the flavors are as good as they boast.

Ingredients in hand, Yuichiro went straight back to the office to experiment.

Once the rice was done, he dived right into taste-testing with the Nihon-ichi Kodawari egg. Before adding it to the rice, Yuichiro cracked it into a separate bowl for observation. After a closer look he thought perhaps the yolk looked a bit brighter than regular eggs.

Though there are many ways to eat TKG, Yuichiro likes mixing the soy sauce and the rice together first before mixing in the egg.

It’s a method that always makes delicious TKG, even with ordinary ingredients, so Yuichiro expected that with the expensive ingredients, it would be exquisite.


As he hoped, it was the best tamago-kake gohan he’d ever had in his life!

Of course, if you really think about it, it makes perfect sense. Using the best ingredients will result in the best dish. So, if you want to eat the best dish, then you have to have the best ingredients. Ergo, you must go right now to Maboroshi no Tamago-ya-san to pick up your own quality TKG ingredients. What will your own “best tamago-kake gohan” taste like?

But be warned: true to its name, the Phantom Egg Shop does change locations frequently. They’ll only be near the bullet train ticket gates at Tokyo Station until September 3, and then they’ll be moving to Ikebukuro, according to the staff. After that, you’ll have to check the shop’s official Twitter (@japan_TKB_labo) for their location.

They also post which eggs they have in stock every day on Twitter, so if you’ve got a favorite, it would be good to check before you go. Luckily the Phantom Egg Shop is actually easy to find, if you know where to look!

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[ Read in Japanese ]