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“This is so so good. I’ve made this recipe so many times and served them during xmas party. Always with good review from guest.”– Sw
What is Saizeriya’s Milano doria?
Milano Doria (ミラノ風ドリア) is a signature dish (along with other favorites like karami chicken) served at the famous Italian-Japanese family restaurant chain “Saizeriya.” The dish is made with white sauce, meat sauce, and powdered cheese, served over buttery turmeric rice, and baked until golden.
Even though the name contains “Milano,” it is an original menu by Saizeriya and doesn’t have any relevance to Milan in Italy.
I grew up going to Saizeriya very often as a kid and still go there sometimes; it’s safe to say the “Milano Doria” is the most iconic and loved dish there. It’s also one of my personal favorites, so I’m excited to share this recipe so you can make it at home too!
How I Developed This Recipe
Saizeriya has been a favorite of mine since childhood, a place that blends good food with reasonable prices. I’ve noticed that it’s not just locals who love it; tourists visiting Japan, or people studying abroad in Japan often stop by Saizeriya and leave with fond memories.
This inspired me to create a copycat recipe for Saizeriya’s star menu item, Milano Doria.
My aim was crystal clear: to replicate that beloved taste in a recipe that can be recreated anywhere in the world. I’m quite proud of the result and encourage you to try it. It’s a taste of Saizeriya, right from your own kitchen!
Visual Walkthrough & Tips
Here are my step-by-step instructions for how to make Saizeriya’s Milano Doria at home. For ingredient quantities and simplified instructions, scroll down for the Printable Recipe Card below.
The first step is to prepare your rice as with any other dish. My routine is to pour the rice into a sieve over a mixing bowl, fill it with water, and wash it three times, emptying the starchy water between each wash.
Once that’s done, place the rice in the cooking pot with the correct ratio of water (3:4 rice in grams to water in ml) and soak for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
When it’s soaked for a long enough time, add the butter, turmeric, and salt and mix before cooking using your usual method. I highly recommend using a rice cooker, but if you don’t have one and need some guidance to cook perfect Japanese rice, check out my guide on how to cook Japanese rice on the stove here.
While it’s soaking/cooking, you can prepare the other parts of the dish!
First, heat a pan on medium and add olive oil. Once it’s hot, add diced onion and crushed garlic and fry them for a few minutes until the onion is slightly translucent.
Add the minced meat (I used beef, but you can use beef/pork mixture) and fry until browned.
Next, sprinkle with salt and pepper, add the flour and mix. This will not only help the meat hold onto more flavor, but also thicken the sauce.
Add the canned tomatoes and mix over the heat. Once it starts to bubble, turn the heat down to low.
Season with soy sauce, sugar, and curry powder. Mix well, place a lid on top, and let it simmer on low for 10 minutes.
Once it’s done, turn off the heat and set aside for later!
Melt the unsalted butter in a pan on a low heat.
Add flour, salt, and pepper and mix continuously to make a roux. Once it’s thickened, add the milk and cream gradually while whisking.
It’s important that you don’t stop whisking. This prevents the mixture at the bottom from forming lumps.
Continue to whisk over the low heat until the sauce is thick and creamy and coats the back of a spoon.
Once it’s done, remove it from the heat and set aside.
Preheat your oven to 220°C (or 430°F).
Take an oven-proof dish and make a layer of turmeric rice.
Next, add the white sauce and spread it evenly to cover the rice.
The next layer is the meat sauce. To make it like Saizeriya’s signature Milano Doria, I place it in the middle like this:
Sprinkle meltable grated cheese around the meat sauce and powdered/finely grated hard cheese.
Bake it in the oven on the middle shelf for approximately 10 minutes. Move it to the top shelf and continue to bake for 5 more minutes to help crisp up the cheese.
I made two individual servings, but you can multiply the recipe and make one big one if you prefer!Jump to Full Recipe Measurements
How to Store
Milano Doria is perfect for making in advance; once you’ve made all the elements, just assemble and store it in the fridge for up to 1-2 days. Bake before serving.
Alternatively, you can assemble it and store it in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Keep in mind that chilled or frozen Doria takes longer to cook. Here are the cooking times and temperatures:
- Freshly cooked and assembled – uncovered at 220°C (430°F) on middle shelf for 10 minutes, top shelf for 5 minutes. (15 minutes in total)
- From chilled – uncovered at 200°C (392°F) for 20 minutes on the middle shelf, then move to the top shelf for 5-10 minutes. (25-30 minutes in total)
- From frozen – covered with foil at 190°C (375°F) for 40 minutes, remove the foil and move to the top shelf for 10 minutes (50 minutes in total)
If the top starts to burn, cover it with foil and continue to bake for the times stated above to ensure it’s heated all the way through.
Milano Doria originated in Japan around 1969 after a customer requested to try an employee’s unique meal. Gaining popularity as a secret menu item, it was later added to the regular menu due to its success. Originally called “Meat Gratin,” the name was changed to Milano Doria to avoid confusion with similar dishes. Inspired by Italian cuisine, this Japanese dish derives its name from Milan, near the Bologna region, which is known for its meat sauce. Today, it’s a long-standing favorite, selling about 60,000 servings daily nationwide.
Doria is a rice-based oven-baked dish topped with white sauce, and cheese originated in Japan in 1930. It was created by Swiss chef Sally Weil at the Hotel New Grand in Yokohama. Initially made for a sick banker seeking a comforting meal, the simple combination of risotto, béchamel sauce, and cheese baked in the oven became immensely popular. This dish, known as “Shrimp Doria,” marked the beginning of various doria types in Japan, including the specific “Milano Doria” variant by Saizeriya. Chef Weil, skilled in French, Italian, and Swiss cuisines, thus played a pivotal role in the dish’s inception and popularity.
In Japan, cheese labeling can be quite generic, often listed as “Mixed cheese,” typically a blend of Gouda, Cheddar, Mozzarella, and/or Steppen cheese. For making doria, both hard cheese, and meltable cheese are used to achieve different textures and flavors. Originally, the recipe might include a mix of shredded Gouda and Cheddar with hard cheese powder, but Saizeriya’s version specifically uses Pecorino cheese, a hard variety, rather than melted cheese. Grated hard cheeses like Pecorino or Parmigiano are crucial for adding a rich, cheesy flavor. For a more authentic Saizeriya-style doria, using hard-grated cheese like Pecorino or Parmigiano is recommended. Pre-grated hard cheeses in Japan are often a mix labeled simply as “powdered cheese.”
Meltable cheeses such as Gouda, Light Cheddar, Gruyere, Emmental, Mozzarella, or Raclette are suitable for a stringy, melty texture. These are similar to the types used in lasagna, making them good choices for doria as well. Extra meltable cheese can be sprinkled on top for a golden, delicious finish when baked.
I hope you enjoy this Saizeriya’s Milano Doria copycat recipe! If you try it out, I’d really appreciate it if you could spare a moment to let me know what you thought by giving a review and star rating in the comments below. It’s also helpful to share any adjustments you made to the recipe with our other readers. Thank you!
More Copycat Recipes
If you’re interested in Japanese restaurants, check out some of my other recipes:
Saizeriya Milano Doria Copycat Recipe (Japanese Meat Gratin)
- 150 g uncooked Japanese short-grain rice
- 200 ml water
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 pinch salt
Meat sauce (see note)
White sauce (see note)
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 pinch black pepper
- 150 ml milk
- 125 ml heavy cream or half & half
- 2 tbsp hard cheese pecorino or parmesan
- preferred melting cheese e.g. cheddar or gouda
Cooking the Rice
- Wash the rice and transfer it to the cooking pot. Pour the water in and leave to soak for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, mix in 1 tbsp unsalted butter, 1 tsp turmeric powder and 1 pinch salt and cook using your usual method. (I use a rice cooker, see how to cook Japanese-style rice on stove here.)
- Heat a pan on medium and once hot, add 1 tsp olive oil. Add 100 g yellow onion(s) and 1 clove garlic and fry for 2 minutes.
- Add 100 g ground beef and cook until browned.
- Sprinkle 1 pinch salt, 1 pinch black pepper and 1 tsp all-purpose flour into the pan and mix thoroughly.
- Add 200 g canned tomato, mix and bring the mixture to a boil. Once bubbling, turn the heat down to low.
- Season with 1 tsp soy sauce, 1/2 tbsp sugar and 1 pinch curry powder, mix and simmer on a low heat with the lid on for 10 minutes.
- Melt the 2 tbsp unsalted butter in a saucepan on a low heat.
- Add 2 tbsp all-purpose flour, a pinch of salt and pepper, then mix thoroughly to make a roux.
- Gradually add 150 ml milk and 125 ml heavy cream while whisking contiuously.
- Turn up the heat to medium-low and continue to stir over the heat until thick and creamy.
- Once thick, remove the pan from the heat.
Assembling The Doria
- Preheat your oven to 220 °C (428 °F).
- Spread a layer of turmeric rice in an ovenproof dish. (You can use 1 medium size or 2 small/individual size)
- Pour the white sauce over the rice and spread evenly using the back of a spoon.
- Place the meat sauce in the centre and sprinkle grated hard cheese over the top and meltable cheese around the edges.
- Bake in the oven for 10 mins on the middle shelf. Move it to the top shelf for the last 5 minutes to help brown the cheese.
- Serve up and enjoy!