Well, not just saucers, but also those little cake plates. And salad-sized plates. The full sized dinner plates aren’t often a part of my culinary habits.
Growing up, we usually ate on small plates, and sometimes, on Japanese plates, like the rectangular plate.
I see similar plates (well, not really this design) in sushi restaurants. They are basically the same thing, but these older plates weren’t as curved. There’s only a slight curve. Mainly, we ate fish on these. They weren’t used for sushi, because the sushi was usually in a package from the store, or, on special occasions, on a platter. We’d just eat from the package, or take a few pieces and shove them next to the fish.
It’s all about the fish, and, if you think about it, fish on round plate is a pain in the butt. It’s usually long, so the head and tail end up poking out, and the side items go on either side of the fish.
So, if you have the fish on one plate, what about the rest of the food?
It goes onto small plates and bowls.
Here’s a screenshot of search results for “japanese meal settings”:
There’s some range there, going from the one-food-per-plate, to some mixed up, to western style single plates. So, you can go in all directions with this.
So, out of habit, I sometimes just use two small plates. A sandwich goes on one, and the other is for some leftovers or something else. Maybe there’s a third bowl for a salad. Maybe there’s a big bowl of noodles with soup, and a small plate with something else. If I have rice, which is pretty rare nowadays, I’ll sometimes use a rice bowl.
It’s a lot of plates, but it’s also not as many plates as you’d need for the full western china setting, with a large dinner plate, a smaller salad plate, an even smaller dessert plate, and a saucer for the cup.
Instead, you can just get saucers and dessert plates, and maybe salad plates. If you get Asian ceramics, you can get these small-sized bowls and plates easily, because that’s mainly what people use. There are sauce bowls, pickle bowls, and plates around 5″ diameter. The kiddie-size cereal bowls work well, too. I see the old-style white Corelle bowls used in Korean restaurants.
So, instead of two large plates for a meal, you might use five or more small plates and bowls. It’s more plates, but, the plates are easier to wash by hand, and take up less space because they are shorter and pack more tightly horizontally. It also scales up and down based on the amount of food. I think they encourage consumption of leftovers.