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Home style menus

Simple and basic but delicious and comforting. This is the essence of home-style cooking in any country and Japan is no exception. A typical Japanese meal consists of rice and miso soup, a main dish, and two or more side dishes usually a vegetable dish, a salad, and pickles.

We all know that eating well-balanced meals is important for good health. In Japan, people are told that a good way to make sure of this is to try to eat 30 different kinds of food each day. Thirty may sound like a lot, but many Japanese dishes contain at least 2-4 ingredients (with nutritional value) each, so it is possible to eat 15 kinds of food at just one meal.

Unlike the Western custom of putting all the food for one individual on a single large plate, each item is usually placed in small individual dishes for each person, as in the photo. More dishes to wash perhaps, but a bountiful array of tableware in different shapes and sizes is appealing to the senses. Besides looking attractive, the size and quantity of dishes are significant for another reason: In Japan, it is traditionally considered good manners to pick up the dish you are eating from and hold it at about chest level. This way any food that you drop falls back into the dish and not onto the table or your lap. Also, soup is drunk directly from the bowl.

In addition to the focus on presentation, preservation and emphasis of a food's intrinsic features are important in Japanese cooking: this means that green beans stay green; burdock root remains crunchy; and lotus root keeps its delicate, natural pattern.

Another characteristic of Japanese cooking is consideration of the season. Seasonal changes are reflected in the choice of ingredients as well as in the cooking method and tableware. In particular, the first fruit and vegetables of each season are eagerly awaited and savored.

Whatever the season, whether it's vegetable, seafood, or meat dishes that you prefer, we think you'll find that Japanese home-style cooking has something for you.