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Teishoku August 9, 2011

Posted by Dru in Food.
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Author’s Note:  Dru’s Misadventures has moved to HinoMaple.  Please venture on over there to read “Teishoku” complete with photos. http://wp.me/s2liAm-teishoku

Teishoku is about as Japanese as you can get for Japanese food.  It’s a very traditional style of food that is simple, yet flavourful.  It’s reasonable and fills you up.  Essentially, teishoku is a set meal that is not unlike a “bento box”.  A bento is actually something that can be thought of as an entirely different beast, akin to comparing the European and Asian pears.  They may be of the same name, similar in many respects, but completely different when you eat them.  A bento is similar to a packed lunch that you bring from home.  They tend to have a small box of rice, and another box stuffed with various food items, such as meat, vegetables, and tofu.  A grocery store or convenience store will sell bento, which is basically a take out version of teishoku.

The basic definition of teishoku would be a set menu item.  Generally, you get a bowl of rice, a main meat dish, which can be meat or fish, a bowl of soup, and one to two side dishes.  The side dishes tend to be either tofu or some sort of pickled vegetable, usually tsukemono.  Depending on the shop, the food is usually served on a tray from which you can enjoy everything.  There are a variety of sauces that go on each dish, or you can eat things simply as is.  The most common type of teishoku would be a basic grilled or broiled fish.  This may not sound that delicious, but it is.  It’s very simple, but the natural flavours of the fish are brought out during the grilling process, so there is no need to add anything.  Usually, there is a small dish of grated daikon, from which you add a little soy sauce and eat it with the fish as a type of “sauce”.  Other than that, there isn’t much to do.

Thankfully, teishoku is not an expensive meal.  There are a few places to eat teishoku, but the most famous chain would have to be Ootoya.  It’s a large relaxed style restaurant where you order more like a cafeteria.  Generally, you order first then get a seat.  Once seated, the food will come out sooner or later.  There are several shops like this, and ordering at these shops can be a little difficult.  Thankfully, most of them have signs where you can point and choose.  Some shops will even offer free rice and soup as a service.  When you order, you may think that the food itself is a little small and sparse.  This can be further from the truth.  I often end up stuffed with no room to spare for desert.  If there is anything I recommend, I’d recommend avoiding any raw fish items.  These shops generally don’t have the freshest fish in Tokyo.  If you want raw fish, you should go to a sushi shop or a sushi donburi shop that specializes in raw fish.  Getting tonkatsu, or other cooked foods is an excellent idea.

If you are in an entertainment district during lunch, you can sometimes see an izakaya that has converted itself into a lunch time teishoku shop.  These shops can be very interesting.  You generally see office workers rushing in and out at all times.  It’s not for the weak of heart as you need to be a little strong to understand how things work.  Usually, everything is for a set price.  You pay at the front then you can choose what you want to eat.  They usually have a counter where you can pick one of the main items, then two of the side dishes.  Water, rice, and soup are all self serve, but you can get as much as you want.  The quality of the food tends to be good, but the quality of the rice will depend on the shop.  Major izakaya chains probably won’t offer this service, and this service is usually open for just one or two hours a day.  After the service has ended, the shop closes, cleans, and finishes preparing for the after work drinking crowd.  It’s an amazing event to see and something I recommend trying if you aren’t afraid.  Do be warned that the shop’s staffs tends to speak only Japanese, so getting help in understanding what to do can be very difficult.  Just do your best.

There really isn’t much to say about teishoku.  It’s a very simple meal that exemplifies Japanese cuisine.  It’s simple, yet delicious.  If you are in Japan, this is probably the easiest type of dinner you can get every night.  You can visit these shops daily and find new and interesting foods to eat for up to two weeks.  It’s easy to get tired of it after a few days, at least for me, but changing the shop and changing the food will make it bearable.

Teishoku Information:

Simple blog post about Teishoku:  http://ilovejapancul.blogspot.com/2008/08/teishoku.html
Blog Post:  http://www.almostjapanese.com/a-perfect-meal-the-teishoku-set

このblogは英語のblog。もし私の英語は難しい、日本語のquestionは大丈夫。

Tokyo (Nippori) December 22, 2009

Posted by Dru in Japan, Kanto, Tokyo, Travel.
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Author’s Note:  Dru’s Misadventures has moved to HinoMaple.  Please venture on over there to read “Tokyo (Nippori)” complete with pictures.  http://wp.me/p2liAm-iQ

Nippori is an overlooked area of Tokyo.  Most people who do venture to this area will more than likely pass straight through it.  It can be considered a focal gateway to Saitama, a residential city to the north of Tokyo.  There really isn’t much for the regular tourist, but there area a couple of interesting things to see and do that could warrant a visit.  The first would be the Fabric Town, and the other would be the Yanaka Cemetery.  The other main reason to visit Nippori is to head to Narita Airport.  It’s a popular transfer point for those on the west side of Tokyo who want to save some money by taking the Keisei Skyliner instead of the Narita Express.

The first thing to do in Nippori, would depend on your purpose.  If you want to see the cemetery, I’d recommend heading there first.  It’s a large area with a long history.  If you head to the southern exit, you will be near the central entrance of the cemetery.  From here, it’s a short walk up the hill to reach Tennoji Temple.  This is a nice little temple with a seated Buddha inside.  It’s actually a bit of a surprise as the outside appears somewhat modern and inside is a quaint little Buddhist Temple.  It’s a nice place to go and relax for a few minutes, but the temple itself is pretty small.  From there, you can head straight into the centre of the cemetery.  The entire cemetery is lined with cherry trees.  It is very beautiful in the spring as the entire area is bathed in pink from the cherry blossoms.  In the autumn, it’s the same, but with colourful leaves.  Yanaka Cemetery is also one of the most famous cemeteries in Japan with various writers, poets, politicians, and scholars.

Fabric town is located on the opposite side of Nippori Station.  It’s a short walk from the station, and a little difficult to find.  Look around the main entrance of the station, where all the taxis park, and you’ll find a few signs pointing you in the general direction.  You have to walk past a major street before you enter Fabric Town.  While it is called Fabric Town, it’s more or less of a street.  There are very few shops located off the street that sell fabric, so don’t worry about venturing off the main street.  Here, if you love to buy fabric of any type, this is the place to be.  You can find various patterns, colours, thread, accessories, and so on.  The fabric can come in silk, polyester, cotton, and even leather.  If you love arts and crafts, enjoy sewing, or just looking for a good costume idea, this is a great place to get started.  Metres of fabric can start at 100 yen each.  Often, there are spools of fabric just sitting in bins in front of each shop inviting you to enter.  Once inside, you’ll have to decide what you want, how much you are willing to spend, and how to bring it home.  Husbands beware, if your wife loves sewing and crafts, you might want to drop her off and head over to Ueno for a little shopping, or even Akihabara to look at more electronics.

Other than that, there really isn’t much to see or do around the station.  There are a few shops to visit, some izakayas and restaurants, but other than that, it’s a pretty boring place.  The only interesting shop would be the Edwin store.  They have a large shop located in front of the station where you can buy all of their latest jeans.  Edwin is a Japanese jean maker whose headquarters are located at the end of Fabric Town.  It is akin to Evisu jeans, although Edwin is not as big, nor as popular as Evisu.  Either way, happy shopping.

Nippori Information:

Nippori (An article about an area that I barely visited in Nippori): http://www.nihonsun.com/2009/06/01/nippori-shopping-street-a-shotengai-worth-a-visit/
Nippori:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nippori_Station
Yanaka Cemetery:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yanaka_Cemetery
Fabric Town Blog Post:  http://www.askingfortrouble.org/crafts/2007/11/02/tokyo-shopping-guide-tomato/
Edwin Jeans:  http://www.edwin.co.jp/index.html

このblogは英語のblog。もし私の英語は難しい、日本語のquestionは大丈夫。

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