“Breakfast, lunch, and dinner — the gold, silver, and bronze,” says Qta Asada, the 16 generation owner of Japan’s Asadaya Ryokan, a nearly 140-year-old five-star inn with four guest rooms and one Michelin star. (A ryokan is a traditional Japanese inn that existed as early as the eighth century A.D.) Asada notes that for Japan breakfast is simply the most important meal of the day, and more of an event than it is a meal.
“I think what makes Japanese breakfast special is that we eat many fermented foods,” says Asada. Namely soy sauce, miso soup (fermented soy bean), and tsukemono pickles served with rice. Asadaya used to follow a traditional style of service where all the food was served at once, but has since evolved into starting with cold dishes before serving anything warm. While this method of serving breakfast wasn’t created by Asadaya, “it is what makes Asdaya special,” says Asada.