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Teishoku, the Universal Answer to a Good Japanese Meal

You know those set meals that are on the menu of every Japanese restaurant? That’s teishoku — a meal of soup, rice or noodles and side dishes. It’s delicious, convenient and in all its variety, utterly satisfying. From a warm bowl of briny miso soup that completes each teishoku tray to the reigning star of the set (it’s not the meat!), we break down the basics of the Japanese staple with teishoku restaurant YAYOI.

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One Soup and... How Many Dishes?

In Japanese, ichiju-issai refers to ‘one soup, one dish’ — a hearty, traditional meal that was first adopted by Zen temples for its humble ability to sate hunger. The simple subsistence soon became the basis of temple cuisine, and over time, led to the nation’s love for teishoku. Today, the set more commonly consists of one soup and three dishes (what the Japanese call ichiju-sansai). We learn that Singapore’s household name for teishoku, YAYOI, serves theirs with one soup and four dishes. Alongside a requisite bowl of white rice, a flavourful meat dish anchors the tray; as for the three sides, there is always tsukemono (Japanese pickles), nourishing miso soup and a leafy vegetable or simmered tofu dish.

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What Really Makes Teishoku

With a menu that spews mouth-watering names like teriyaki salmon, crunchy chicken karaage and juicy beef hamburg, the focus often falls to meats. But at every Japanese restaurant worth their salt, the teishoku tray reins it in with the real star: rice. In Japan, rice, glorious rice, is the building block of every meal. Rice topped with just a raw egg cracked on top? Yum. Gobbled up plain with only a drizzle of soy? Yum too! Though side dishes play a delicious role to bring oomph and flavour to your meal, it is every tender grain of white, slightly sticky rice that acts as a canvas to hold it all together.

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YAYOI uses Kinme rice, stringently selected from various parts of Japan. Before you brush this off as just rice, know that Kinme grains are prepared with utmost care. Polished using a unique, patented process, the harvested grains retain their natural, earthy flavour and every bit of nutrition. This unmistakable quality is why, you will notice that at YAYOI, trays are always served with the bowl of plump, pearly rice facing you. P.S. It’s refillable!

Ordering Teishoku

The best part about getting to know teishoku better? Having one! We scoured YAYOI’s extremely varied menu to suss out three must-haves:

Shogayaki Teishoku ($14.90)

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Shogayaki, or ginger pork, is a signature dish YAYOI holds dearly. As the restaurant expanded to eight outlets across Singapore, the familiar flavours of this gingery, fragrant sliced pork — exactly the same at every outlet — never fails to remind regulars why they return time and again. Try the dish if you enjoy lighter flavours, as it gives way for the pork’s own piquant aroma to take centrestage. And because it’s cooked with ginger, order with the peace of mind that there will be no pungent pork flavour.

Sukiyaki Teishoku ($22.90)

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For rainy day dinners, this bubbling hotpot of stewed beef sukiyaki makes a sublime choice. Expect a whopping portion of tender beef slices, slicked in sweet, mildly savoury sauce. There are also onions, cooked to a soft, melt-in-the-mouth texture, large squares of tofu, and bouncy konnyaku noodles. The Burpple community also describes the sweet sauce to be excellent for ladling over a bed of (refillable) rice!

Mix Toji Teishoku ($16.90)

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Finally, there is the Mix Toji. Recommended by the kitchen crew themselves, the hot plate platter combines breaded pork cutlet with prawns and beef slices for a modern Japanese surf-and-turf. Finished off with a smattering of beaten eggs and dashi (Japanese broth), the versatile dish turns into warm, wobbly spoonfuls of meat, egg and sauce. So good.


Get a taste of Japan’s favourite meal at YAYOI, the teishoku restaurant.

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