From being an overlooked rice option on restaurant menus, it has become one of the most popular items for sushi lovers. After all, the one-bowl wonder marries both sushi and sashimi in a healthy, satisfying meal and makes for a convenient takeaway option too.
What started out as a quick way for sushi chefs to minimise wastage - by placing the pieces of fish left over from making nigiri sushi over rice - has now gone luxe with thick slices or marinated chunks of raw fish, along with ingredients such as uni (sea urchin) and ikura (salmon roe).
Chefs are trying to edge out the competition with variations featuring premium fish depending on the season as well as flavoured rice.
Here are seven places where you can get your chirashi fix.
1. KOJI SUSHI BAR
Koji's chirashi don ($17++ with soup and salad) includes Hokkaido rice topped with marinated cubes of scallop, amberjack, tuna, chopped tuna belly, whelk and salmon. Mixed-grain rice is available for an extra $1. Add $9 for uni.
Where: Nankin Row, 3 Pickering Street, 01-42
Open: 11.30am to 3pm, 5 to 10pm (Monday to Saturday), closed on Sunday. Closed for Chinese New Year from Wednesday to Feb 22.
Info: Call 6225-6125
Those who love salad and sashimi can have the best of both worlds at Japaneseinspired salad bar Shinkansen. Choose from sushi rice, brown rice, soba noodles and quinoa for your salad base. Besides the usual toppings of meat and vegetables, you can also choose from salmon, tuna and yellowtail sashimi. Prices start at $7.50 for one base, five toppings and sauce. There are also combination bowls such as the Omega Don ($8.80), with sushi or brown rice, salmon sashimi, tamago, cucumber, ebiko and miso soup; and All Aboard! ($9.80), with sushi rice, cherry tomatoes, sliced raw fish and wafu dressing.
Where: Three outlets at Ocean Financial Centre, 10 Collyer Quay, B1-08; United Square, 101 Thomson Road, B1-60A; and 100AM, 100 Tras Street, 03-22
Open: 10.30am to 7pm (Ocean Financial Centre, weekdays only),
11am to 8pm daily (United Square and 100AM). All outlets closed for Chinese New Year from Wednesday to Saturday
3. SUMIYA CHARCOAL GRILL IZAKAYA
Sumiya offers a Mix Bara Kaisen Don (set lunch with salad, appetiser, chawanmushi, miso soup and dessert at $18.80) with cubed fish such as maguro akami (lean tuna), chutoro, toro, amberjack, salmon and avocado. Tuna fans can opt for the Nama Hon Maguro Mixed Don ($30.80) with various parts of bluefin tuna, topped with ikura.
Where: Orchard Central, 181 Orchard Road, 12-02
Open: Noon to 3pm, 6 to 10.30pm daily. Closed for Chinese New Year on Wednesday and Thursday
Info: Call 6509-9618
4. SUSHI JIN
The three-month-old Japanese restaurant by the Les Amis Group features a variety of rice sets for lunch that come with salad, miso soup and dessert.
Its kaisen don ($36) includes slices of tuna, salmon, kajiki (blue marlin), hamachi (yellowtail tuna), amaebi (sweet shrimp), ikura and tobiko; and the bara chirashi ($32) has cubed fish such as tuna, salmon and white fish with ikura (salmon roe) and tobiko (flying fish roe). Both sets come with pickles and sushi tamago.
Where: One Farrer Hotel & Spa, 1 Farrer Park Station Road, Owen Link, 01-11/12 Open: Noon to 2.30pm, 6.30 to 10.30pm (Monday to Saturday), closed on Sunday. Closed for Chinese New Year from Wednesday dinner to Feb 22
Info: Call 6443-3378 or go to www.sushijin.com.sg
5. SUSHI MITSUYA
Sushi Mitsuya's signature bara chirashi ($50++ lunch set with two appetisers, soup and dessert) features ingredients such as hotate (scallop), anago (sea eel), akami (lean tuna) and boiled ebi (prawn). Head chef Ryosuke Harada adds seasonal offerings depending on availability, such as boiled ika geso (squid tentacles), sawara (Spanish mackerel)and kohada (gizzard shad).
Where: 60 Tras Street, 01-01
Open: Noon to 3pm, 6 to 11pm (Monday to Saturday), closed on Sunday. Closed for Chinese New Year from Wednesday dinner to Friday
Info: Call 6438-2608
6. TEPPEI JAPANESE RESTAURANT
Besides trying to get a coveted spot for its omakase meals, diners have been flocking to Teppei for kaisen don, rice topped with generous chunks of marinated fish and tempura crumbs for crunch.
The lunch set comes with side dishes and costs $17.60 at Teppei, while the other outlets (Teppei Syokudo at Millenia Walk and Takashimaya, closed from Wednesday to Friday for Chinese New Year) sell the bowl for takeaway at $16. Add $8 for uni and negitoro.
Other options include a mixed fish and sashimi squid don ($17.80). For an upsized version, order the sashimi cake. Prices start at $40 for a 20cm-wide cake, order a day in advance.
Where: Orchid Hotel, 1 Tras Link
Open: Noon to 2.30pm, 6.30 to 10.30pm (Monday to Saturday), closed on Sunday. Closed for Chinese New Year till Feb 25
Info: Call 6222-7363
7. THE SUSHI BAR
Thick slices of raw fish such as salmon, tuna, hamachi and swordfish adorn a bowl of rice topped with a slice of blowtorched salmon belly for extra oomph. A normal chirashi don costs $24.90, while the premium chirashi don costs $46.90.
Where: Far East Plaza, 14 Scotts Road, 04-28
Open: 12.30 to 3pm, 5.30 to 9pm (weekday), 12.30 to 9pm (Saturday), closed on Sunday. Closed for Chinese New Year from Thursday to Feb 22
Info: Call 9653-6464
This article was first run in The Straits Times newspaper on February 15, 2015. For similar stories, go to http://www.straitstimes.com/premium/singapore. You will not be able to access the Premium section of The Straits Times website unless you are already a subscriber.