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If you’re like me, cooking is less an art form and more a begrudging chore that you participate in purely out the need not to starve. Which is my clever way of saying that I am the exact opposite of “good at cooking.” But let’s be honest, normally it isn’t a big deal–that’s what 7-11 is for! But maybe you have a special someone coming over and you’d like to impress him or her with your hospitality. You might be tempted to order take-out, but nothing’s quite as impressive as a home-cooked meal, right?

So what’s a kitchen dunce to do? Just keep ’em dazzled and distracted with these unique and arty plates!

The Topography Plate

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Imagined by famous Japanese designer and producer Kouichi Okamoto, this plate was inspired by mountains, calling forth images of the Alps in all their natural beauty. As one Japanese retail site put it, “Pour in some soup, and it becomes a mountain lake. Drop in some salad, and you have a forest. Enjoy landscaping with your food!”

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This plate has a cost to match the peaks of its mountains, coming in at 9,240 yen (about US$93), not including shipping, online.

Hiracle

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On first glance, these dishes look like starfish molds. That’s kind of cool, but also kind of gross, right? Well, just wait until you pour in some soy sauce or dashi

▼Ta-da!

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Yep, now you have some lovely flowers! Obviously, the color of the sauce will greatly affect the exact results you get, but with a little experimentation, you’ll have all eyes on your special sauces and no one will even notice the burnt chicken!

The dishes were produced by AgeDesign, a design company based out of Ishikawa Prefecture, and retail for around 1,500 yen (about $15) each. The bowls, in addition to being very cute, are made of Kutaniyaki, a famous kind of porcelain from Ishikawa Prefecture, imbuing your dinner table with some class and style.

Manga Plates

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Envisioned by Kyoto designer Mika Tsutai and produced by “make all the things manga!” company Comicalu, these plates will make your meals at least twice as adventurous!

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Ruined the pasta? Who cares! Look at how awesome the plates are! You have numerous designs to choose from as well, like the “Shakiiin!” plate above. With a bit of careful layout, even your day old, leftover yakisoba will look great!

▼ Make your taters shiny…

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▼…or leave your salad cackling!

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The plates cost about 3,000 yen (around $30) each, though it doesn’t look like they ship internationally.

The Spilt Milk Bowl

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Now that we all know how horrible my cooking is, maybe you’d rather opt for some cereal in the morning instead of my scrambled bacon and burnt eggs. In that case, grab a bowl and…oh, no! You spilled the milk!

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Actually, no, that’s just the bowl. This “Spilt Milk” bowl is actually composed of silicon, making it flexible, as you can see above. We’re still not sure who the intended audience is–children? people who want to pretend to be a pro wrestler crushing bowls?–but it’s cute and fun! The perfect way to start your morning.

You can order the bowl from Amazon for $13.50 or the Museum of Modern Art Store for 1,470 yen (Japanese only).

Chat Plates

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For when you really want to “tell” someone something, like “I can’t cook! Please bring take-out next time,” these ceramic plates are just what you need. Shaped like speech and thought balloons, they’d go well with the manga plates featured above.

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These ceramic plates were designed by Ikuko Nakazawa and have been officially endorsed by the Museum of Modern Art! These ceramic dishes are sure to enliven even the dreariest of meals. In Japan, individual plates can be bought on Rakuten starting at 650 yen (about $6.50) for the smallest size, and in the US, you can find a three-piece set for $48.

Sashimi Plates

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I’m honestly not sure if I’m impressed or horrified by this plate. On one hand, it’s pretty clever. On the other hand, it looks like it’s starting right at me.

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Loading it up with raw fish somehow makes it less creepy.

Produced by Sun Art (Japanese only), these porcelain plates cost 1,060 yen (about $10) and can be found on Amazon Japan. There’s also a lobster version for those not worried about keeping kosher.

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Sakura Bonsai plates

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Like the Hiracle plates mentioned above, these dishes were inspired by Japanese cherry trees. You can even use the various branches and flowers to add different types of sauce, perfect for sushi! And by adjusting the amount of sauce in the dish, you can create different images–starting with Mount Fuji and then moving on to a bare tree trunk to the early spring cherry buds and finally to cherry blossoms in all their soy-sauce glory!

The porcelain plates, made by Fanta Suteki, come in a variety of designs from fish to proper Mount Fuji plates. You can see a “demonstration” of the plates (with dubious English translation) in the video below.

If you’re interested in getting some plates for your home sushi parties, be sure to check out Fantasuteki’s website.

Trace Face Donburi bowl

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Made in Seto in Aichi Prefecture, using unique local techniques, these bowls are designed to look like knit sweaters! Donburi, in case you haven’t had it, is basically a bowl of rice with a layer of meat, vegetables or some other food on top, like Yoshinoya’s famous meat bowls. They also come with a cover, so you can easily hide your culinary disasters.

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Produced by Cement Design, these bowls can be purchased online for 6,300 yen (about $63).

Jaws soup bowl

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“Uh, waiter, there’s a…shark…in my soup.” Probably not the best way to start a date, though with my cooking it’s almost better to find a live, hungry shark in the soup that eat what I’ve made.

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This porcelain bowl is also produced by Sun Art, like the sashimi plate above. The bowl is, well, a bowl! There’s really nothing too fancy about it besides the shark fin sticking up in the middle like an awkward topic of conversation. I imagine that this would be perfect for kids and Shark Week aficionados.

The bowls are available on Amazon Japan for 1,399 yen (about $14).

Boguslaw Sliwinski plates

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And rounding off our list is a set of “active” plates, to help you burn off all those calories when I finally give up on cooking and just order in. Imagined by the creative Polish designer Boguslaw Sliwinski, these plates would be a great way to teach your kids about the joys of eating their veggies.

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If you’re interested in getting some plates of your own, it looks like you’ll need to contact the designer himself via his website.

Well, now you know two things: where to find some awesome plates to add some excitement to your cooking, and never to come to my house for dinner!

So, what do you think, guys? Which plate do you need in your dining room?

Source: Naver Matome, Entabe, Rigna, Style Store, Rakuten, Fancy Sale, Nikkei BP, Mode Press
Image sources: Naver Matome, Entabe, Rakuten, Amazon Japan