Teishoku is a pre-set meal -- a main dish, always with miso soup and a bowl of rice, and it builds from there according the chef's seasonal fancies (pickles, tofu, salad, etc). These meals are very popular during lunch, when salarymen and women can quickly run into a restaurant and get a warm, complete meal for as low as $10.
Teishoku often arrive to your table on gorgeous laquered obon (tray), or sometimes simply on a janky, run-of-the-mill cafeteria tray. But no matter -- most important is what's ON the tray. The plates and bowls each vary from tray to tray, and there are usually no "matching" tableware on any of them. During our three weeks in Japan, my OPENharvest colleagues and I had many teishoku sets. Here are some highlights.
Sanma (pacific saury) teishoku. Uokatsu Restaurant (1-6-5 Azabu Juban, Minato-ku, Tokyo. Tel: 03-3401-7959). By Yoko Kumano.
Hayashi raisu with kaki fry (fried oysters) teishoku. Azabu-juban, Tokyo. By Kelly Ishikawa.
Breakfast at Hakkaisan Brewery. By Sasha Wizansky.
Maguro teishoku. Tsukiji, Tokyo. By Yoko Kumano.
Okayu (porridge) teishoku. Higashiya Restaurant (Pola Ginza bldg. 2F 1-7-7 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo; Tel: 03 5720 1310). By Aya Brackett.
Shirasu-don (white fish rice bowl) teishoku. Azabu-juban, Tokyo. By Kayoko Akabori.
Tempura-chazuke. Kondo Restaurant (Sakaguchi Building 9F, 5-5-13 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo; Tel: 03.5568.0923). By Aya Brackett.
Sanma teishoku. Azabu-juban, Tokyo. By Sasha Wizansky.
Onsen (hot springs) breakfast. Hakone. By Yoko Kumano.
Chirashi teishoku. Tsukiji, Tokyo. By Kayoko Akabori.
Oden (fish cake stew) teishoku. Azabu-juban, Tokyo. By Sasha Wizansky.
Hayashi raisu teishoku. Azabu-juban. By Yoko Kumano.
I personally did not get to eat sanma at all while in Japan, and am gravely regretting it. However, I did have hayashi rice meals TWICE, however. Both Kelly's and Yoko's photos came from the same little grubby hole-in-the-wall in Azabu-juban, Tokyo. It had had a very 60s, Tokyo Drifter vibe. During lunch, the place was packed with salarymen, all whom were indecisive of what to order from their long menu. Cigarette-smoking and manga-reading optional.
Don't forget the tissue. By Kelly Ishikawa.
That place was definitely one of the more memorable spots during my trip. I am craving hayashi rice now that I am back, and will make some, per Yamahomo's recipe.
*Top photo of the buta no shyoga yaki (ginger pork) teishoku by Aya Brackett. In Odaicho, Mie prefecture.
**Aya Brackett worked as a photo editor at Dwell Magazine. Based in San Francisco, she now freelances for magazines, book publishers and companies worldwide.
***Kelly Ishikawa is a San Francisco-based photographer and the co-owner of The Perish Trust.
****Sasha Wizansky is the Editor-in-Chief and Art Director of Meatpaper magazine, a print journal of art and ideas about meat and meat culture.