Translated by Ellyn Barnes
Japanese Encyclopedia: Teishoku (Set Meal)
Written by MATCHA
Welcome to MATCHA's Japanese Encyclopedia, where we explain key words and concepts from Japan. Today we introduce teishoku, Japan's cheap and easy set menu.
Teishoku is the Japanese word for a pre-decided meal set that is served at many Japanese restaurants, and usually includes a main dish, rice, a side dish, and a soup. In some places, you may also find set menus with multiple side dishes.
Teishoku-ya: Laid-back Lunches
Most restaurants that serve teishoku, also called teishoku-ya in Japan, are casual eateries where you can pop in for a quick lunch or evening meal. Unlike à la carte menus, where you choose individual dishes, here you simply choose what you want for your main, and rice and soup automatically come with it.
Want to know whether a certain restaurant serves à la carte or teishoku? If they only have a Japanese menu, simply look for these characters: 定食. If you can spot them after the name of a dish, for example tonkatsu or fried fish, you'll know that it comes as a set. The rice and soup that accompany the dishes are more often than not the same, so all you have to do is pick the type of main you want. Easy, right?
Teishoku of the Day
You can often see teishoku of the day - or higawari teishoku in Japanese - on lunchtime menus. These are the daily specials of the teishoku world, and a chance to enjoy seasonal vegetables or fish without breaking the bank. These specials are usually advertised at the entrance of a restaurant, so make sure to check what's on offer next time you eat out!