San Francisco's Chinatown and Japantown are two fantastic resources for inexpensive tableware. I love mixing in rice bowls and sushi plates along with my basic white dishes.
One of my favorite Japanese patterns is called Sendan-Tokusa. Hand-painted blue lines radiate out from a center point and the dishes are rimed with blue. The pattern comes in a couple different variations, but each is distinct and modern.
I recommend the 9" x 4.5" sushi plate in particular. I've used it to serve an appetizer of three prosciutto-wrapped figs and it also works really well for a slice of cake and ice cream. On my desk, I also have three Sendan-Tokysa bowls in organic "pebble" shapes filled with candy, paper clips and business cards. Oooo, and I also have this set of five noodle bowls, one in a Sendan-Tokusa pattern.