It's one of Japan's most comforting of comfort foods: a bowl of rice with a hot pot of tea poured on top. Ochazuke, literally "steeped in tea", is typically served at the end of meal or a night out, but it can also make for a quick and light Japanese breakfast. The dish can be traced back to the Heian Period (794-1185), when it took the form of hot water poured over cold rice. Tea replaced hot water during the Edo Period (1603-1868), and the dish evolved again in the 1950s when Nagatanien started selling "instant" ochazuke packets containing powdered tea and kombu (kelp). Ochazuke has continued to change; nowadays, it is possible to find it served with an umami-rich seafood dashi.

My favorite version is made by an ochazuke specialty chain, Dashi-chazuke En. Its dashi is made from several types of fish — soda-gatsuo (frigate tuna), saba (Pacific mackerel), katsuo (bonito, or skipjack tuna) and iriko (dried sardines) — with konbu, salt and chicken stock rounding out the broth. The morning set, served from 8-10 a.m., is around ¥500. There are a few options for toppings, including salmon, chicken or nine lightly pickled vegetables. Dashi-chazuke En's branch in Shinjuku Station is easy to find: Exit the station's west exit, pass the kōban (police box) and you'll see the chain on your right.

Inside, jazz music plays in the background and you can sip your hot breakfast watching harried passersby on their way to work. There are branches of Dashi-chazuke En throughout Tokyo, but not all are open for breakfast.