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What is Hayashi Rice? Was a Mr. Hayashi the First Person to Make Hayashi Rice?

Hayashi rice (hashed beef rice) is prepared by simmering sauteed beef and onion in a demiglace and tomato sauce or demiglace and red wine sauce and ladling this over rice in the same way as curry rice.  There are various theories about the origin of Hayashi rice.  The most popular theory, however, is that the originator was a person by the name of Yuteki Hayashi.

Although Yuteki was originally a talented doctor, he established a trading company that later became Maruzen.  Beginning with Western books and then writing materials such as fountain pens, typewriters, and foodstuffs such as butter and curry powder, Yuteki became known during the Meiji era (1868 to 1912) as a businessman that imported all manner of Western culture.

With his deep interest in Western culture, Western cooking soon grabbed Yuteki’s interest.

Now, Yuteki would treat his guests with a meal consisting of hashed beef and vegetables cooked in a sauce and ladled over rice.  This fancy Western-style dish became extremely popular among his guests.  Before long, restaurants also added it to their menu.  It was named Hayashi rice in association with its originator Yuteki Hayashi.  However, there is also a differing theory that the originator was a chef by the name of Hayashi at the restaurant Ueno Seiyoken and not Maruzen’s Yuteki Hayashi.

Besides names, another long established theory is that hayashi is derived from the English word hash.  According to this theory, Hayashi rice is a corruption of the name hashed beef rice that used the English word hash meaning to chop into small pieces.  In the same way as Hayashi rice, hashed beef is prepared by cooking beef in a demiglace sauce.

Which theory is the true explanation, whether the “person” theory that says there was an originator or the “hash” theory that is based on the cooking method, is still not clear.