Japanese ochazuke is just white rice steeped in green tea. And yet it’s so much more. My introduction to the traditional, soupy dish came in the 1952 movie Ochazuke no Aji (The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice). In it, a husband and wife, hopelessly at odds, come together over a late-night snack of ochazuke—truly, food that heals. Now I make it myself when I’m craving comfort and that gently vegetal flavor. Sometimes I add toasted nori, crumbled rice crackers, bonito flakes, or wasabi. Or I go to the Japanese restaurant on the corner in my Brooklyn neighborhood, a cozy place called Gen, where they garnish it with grilled salmon and pickled daikon, bok choy, and salty plum. I love the way they stir shreds of floral shiso leaf into the tea. The fragrance is narcotic; I feel myself instantly relax.
In this year's SAVEUR 100, we take stock of our favorite things: recipes, people, places. We consider every last one a new classic.