The proverbial bread and butter of restaurant menus across Japan is teishoku (written as 定食 on menus).
Translated as “set meal,” it’s a far cry from the “do-you-want-fries-with-that?” sets found at fast food joints. Well-rounded variety is the teishoku calling card, and you can expect your order to come with a main dish (usually fish or meat), a bowl of miso soup, a bowl of rice and an assortment of seasonal side dishes and pickles. Since many of the items can be prepared en masse in advance, wait times are kept to a minimum, essential for hungry diners.
An added benefit: Teishoku meals — also occasionally delineated as higawari (日替わり, daily special) on menus — translate fairly well to the bento format, meaning it’s still possible to order safely, and relatively inexpensively, from your favorite locations. The only caveat is teishoku tend to stay in the washoku genre. While there are many restaurants offering excellent ranchi setto (lunch sets) that include Western items such as pasta, these five restaurants have been chosen for their excellent, healthy takes on the classic Japanese format and relaxed ambience.