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13 Japanese Phrases You Can Use At Restaurants

13 Japanese Phrases You Can Use At Restaurants

2019.11.06 Bookmark

Learn 13 Japanese phrases that you can use at restaurants, cafes, izakaya, and other eateries in Japan. Learn how to order, ask the waiter questions, and how to pay the bill smoothly with basic sayings. Practice your pronunciation with audio files included in this article.

Translated by Takuya Erik Watanabe

Written by Mayo Nomura

Japanese For Enjoying A Meal In Japan

dining in japan

If you can make an order or ask for what you want smoothly at a restaurant, cafe, bar, or other eateries in Jpana, your food experience will probably be even better! Therefore, it's important to practice some Japanese.

This article introduces convenient phrases that you can use at a restaurant in Japan.

*For how to read the pronunciations within the [ ], please read the following article: Japanese Basics: English In Japan And Japanese Pronunciation

Entering the Restaurant

1. Sumimasen / Excuse me

[sumimasen]

At most Japanese restaurants, a staff member will welcome you at the entrance and guide you to your table.
You can use this phrase to call for someone when there's no one at the entrance.

If the [sumimasen] pronunciation is difficult, you can also say [suimasen].

At Japanese restaurants, it's okay to call out for a waiter/waitress.

Slightly raise your hand and call out "sumimasen".

2. Futari desu / For two

[ftari des]
◯◯ desu[des]

You can use this phrase to let the staff know how many are in your party. You will usually say this at the entrance of the restaurant. How to say the number of people in your party is as follows:

・hitori[htori](one person), futari[ftari](two people), sannin[san nin](three people), yonin[yonin](four people)
・[hi]…Make a narrow shape with your mouth and breathe out as if rubbing your upper jaw (if you've ever studied German, it's the "ch" sound of "ich") combined with the vowel [i].

・Make sure your pronunciation for three people is [san nin], not [sanin]!

To Order

3. Osusume wa nandesuka? / What do you recommend?

[ossumewa nandeska]

Looking at a Japanese menu, there might be times that you don't know what to order.
In that case, you can use this phrase.

4. Korewa nandesuka? / What is this?

[korewa nandeska]

Use this one when there's a photo of something you're interested in but don't know what it is.

If there's a certain type of meat that you can't have, say:

Korewa nanno oniku desuka? / What type of meat is this?
[korewa nanno oniku deska]
・When pronouncing [nanno], extend the [nn]. Saying [nano] might sound unnatural.

The names of types of meat are as follows:

butaniku[butaniku](pork) gyuniku[gyu:niku](beef) toriniku[toriniku](chicken) ramu[ramu](lamb) etc.

5. Kore, onegai shimasu / This one, please.

[kore onegai shimas]
◯◯ onegai shimasu
[◯◯ onegai shimas]

When ordering, you can point at the item you want and just say this.

Kore kudasai.
[kore kudasai]

This one works as well and means the same thing, but "onegai shimasu" is more polite. You can replace "kore"(this) with other words, such as a menu item.

You can order more than one by using the words for numbers:

hitotsu[htotsu](one), futatsu[ftatsu](two), mittsu[mittsu](three), yottsu[yottsu](four)
・[tsu]… This pronunciation is the sound from "cats" or "boots" combined with the vowel[u]. Make sure you don't separate the "t" and the "su".

Kore, futatsu, onegai shimasu. / Two of this, please.
[kore ftatsu onegaishimas]

As shown above, you can say "①thing + ②amount + onegai shimasu".

Ex.

・Kin'enseki, onegaishimasu. / No-smoking seat, please.
[kin enseki onegai shimas]
*The nin kinand enare connected, but make sure not to pronounce it like [kinenseki].

・Kitsuenseki, onegai shimasu. / Smoking seat, please.
[kitsuen seki onegai shimas]

・Omizu futatsu, onegai shimasu. / Two glasses of water, please.
[omizu ftatsu onegai shimas]

・Foku (supun/naifu), onegai shimasu. / Fork (spoon/knife), please.
[fo:ku (spu:n / naifu) onegai shimas]

・Menyu, onegai shimasu. / Menu, please.
[menyu: onegai shimas]

・Kozara, onegai shimasu. / Small plates, please.
[kozara onegai shimas]

・Okaikei, onegai shimasu. / Check, please.
[okaike: onegai shimas]

6. Are to onajino, onegai shimasu. / The same as that one, please.

[areto onajino onegai shimas]

You can gesture toward something someone nearby is eating and use this phrase when you want to have the same thing.

7. Sofuto dorinku wa arimasuka? / Do you have soft drinks?

[softo dorinkuwa arimaska]
◯◯ wa arimasuka? / Do you have ◯◯?
[◯◯ wa arimaska]

Use this phrase to ask if the restaurant has something you want.

In Japan, drinks that don't contain alcohol are called "soft drinks"[softo dorinku].

Also, you can say ◯◯ nuki[◯◯nuki] to say "without ◯◯".

For example, if you say butaniku nuki[butaniku nuki], it means "without pork".

Ex.

・Madogawa no seki wa arimasuka? / Is there a window seat?
[madogawano sekiwa arimaska]

・Koshitsu wa arimasuka? / Do you have a private room?
[kosh tsuwa arimaska]
・[sh]… Close to the English "sh" sound of "she", but is pronounced without curling the lip.

・Eigo no menyu wa arimasuka? / Do you have an English menu?
[e:gono menyu:wa arimaska]

・Bejitarian menyu wa arimasuka? / Do you have a vegetarian menu?
[bejitarian menyu:wa arimaska]

・Non arukoru biru wa arimasuka? / Do you have non-alcoholic beer?
[non aruko:ru bi:ruwa arimaska]

・Butaniku nuki no menyu wa arimasuka? / Do you have something that doesn't use pork?
[butaniku nukino menyuwa arimaska]

・Tamago nuki no menyu wa arimasuka? / Do you have something that doesn't use egg?
[tamago nukino menyuwa arimaska]

8. Tamago nuki ni, dekimasuka? / Can you make it without egg?

[tamago nukini dekimaska]

Even if the item isn't on the menu, you can ask:

◯◯ ni dekimasuka? / Can you make it ◯◯?
[◯◯ni dekimaska]

They might be able to make it for you.

Ex.

・Butaniku nuki ni dekimasuka? / Can you make it without pork?
[butaniku nukini dekimaska]

・Tamanegi nuki ni dekimasuka? / Can you make it without onions?
[tamanegi nukini dekimaska]

Also, when you're using a restaurant for a birthday or anniversary dinner, you can ask:

Sapuraizu wa dekimasuka? / Can you do a surprise?
[sapuraizuwa dekimaska]

Some restaurants will offer you a free cake.

9. Mo ichido iidesuka? / Can you say that again?

[mo: ichido i:deska ]

If you missed something that a staff member said, you can ask them to say it again with the above.

If the person is talking too fast, say:

Yukkuri, iidesuka? / Could you speak more slowly?
[yukkuri i:deska]

While Eating

10. Shashin, iidesuka? / Could you take a picture?

[shashin i:deska]

If you want to ask the staff to take your picture, hand them your camera and say, "shashin, iidesuka?"

After Eating

11. Mochikaeri ni dekimasuka? / Can I take it home?

[mochkaerini dekimaska]

In Japan, in many cases the restaurant will not let you take home your leftovers for hygiene reasons, but it's still worth asking.
・The [ch] sound is close to the "ch" in "cheese", but don't curl your lip. This one isn't the German "ch" in "ich".

To Pay

12. Betsu betsu ni, dekimasuka? / Can we pay separately?

[betsu betsuni dekimaska]
・[tsu]… the "ts" sound in "cats" and "boots" combined with the vowel[u]. Make sure you don't separate the "t" and "su".

Use this phrase if you want to pay separately.

Most izakaya and other places require paying together, so there may be times when you can't pay separately.

13. Gochisosama deshita.

[goch so:sama deshta]
・The [ch] sound is close to the "ch" in "cheese", but don't curl your lip. This one isn't the German "ch" in "ich".

This is a phrase that's used when you finish eating in Japan.

After paying, you can say this to the staff when leaving the restaurant.

Others: Words You'll Hear When Eating In Japan

Izakaya [izakaya]

An izakaya is a Japanese-style restaurant. It's used when you want to drink a lot of alcohol, or when you want to enjoy a party in a group.

For more information, check out this article: What's On The Drink Menu At A Typical Izakaya In Japan?

Nomihodai[nomi ho:dai](all-you-can-drink)・Tabehodai[tabe ho:dai](all-you-can-eat)

A nomihodai allows you to order as many drinks as you want within a certain time period for a certain price.

A tabehodai is the same, for food.

Many restaurants offer these services, such as izakaya, yakiniku, and sushi shops.

Oshibori[oshibori]

An oshibori is a small, wet towel. Many restaurants and food joints (other than cafes) will bring you water and an oshibori when you take a seat.

This water and oshibori is free. If you want a refill of water, say:

・Omizu, onegai shimasu.
[omizu onegai shimas]

Refills are free as well.

If you want to learn more about the rules of restaurants in Japan, check out this article: 10 Things You Should Know About Eating Out In Japan

Teishoku[te:shoku]

A teishoku is a set meal that usually includes rice, a main dish, miso soup, and salad or pickled vegetables.

When you're eating lunch, you'll probably see menus that say "◯◯ teishoku" at many places.
Japanese food set meals are generally called teishoku, while western and other foods are often called ◯◯ sets.

◯◯ don[◯◯don]

A "don" is a bowl called a "donburi". A ◯◯ don is a rice bowl topped with whatever fills in the blank.

Ex. Kaisendon, oyakodon, tendon, gyudon, etc.

◯◯ itame[◯◯ itame]

"itameru" means to cook with oil. "Yasai itame" (vegetable itame) is a representative dish.

Most of the time they use soy sauce and pepper, and have a salty taste. Also, most meat "itame" dishes use pork.

◯◯ ni[◯◯ ni](nimono[nimono], nikomi[nikomi], nitsuke[nitsuke])

"niru" means to cook in water (enough to cover the ingredients) and dashi (broth) etc.

These dishes generally use soy sauce, miso, and sugar, and have a salty-sweet flavor.

There are many types of nimono: daikon nimono, motsu nikomi, kabocha nitsuke, etc.

Review

1. Sumimasen / Excuse me.
[sumimasen]

2. Futari desu / For two.
[ftari des]

3. Osusume wa nandesuka? / What do you recommend?
[ossumewa nandeska]

4. Korewa nandesuka? / What is this?
[korewa nandeska]

5. Kore, onegai shimasu / This one, please.
[koreo onegai shimas]

6. Are to onajino, onegai shimasu. / The same as that one, please.
[areto onajino onegai shimas]

7. Sofuto dorinku wa arimasuka? / Do you have soft drinks?
[softo dorinkuwa arimaska]

8. Tamago nuki ni, dekimasuka? / Can you make it without egg?
[tamago nukini dekimaska]

9. Mo ichido iidesuka? / Can you say that again?
[mo: ichido i:deska ]

10. Shashin, iidesuka? / Could you take a picture?
[shashin i:deska]

11. Mochikaeri ni dekimasuka? / Can I take it home?
[mochkaerini dekimaska]

12. Betsu betsu ni, dekimasuka? / Can we pay separately?
[betsu betsuni dekimaska]

13. Gochisosama deshita.
[goch so:sama deshta]

What do you think? We hope you have some great food experiences at restaurants in Japan!



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