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Just Remember These! Japanese Phrases to Use At Restaurants

English is getting more and more common in Japan, but there are still many places where only Japanese is spoken. Here are some Japanese phrases which might be handy when visiting restaurants!

2017.01.26

Entering a restaurant

【Convenient phrases which can be used by switching words】

(1) In Japan, a staff member will normally guide you to a seat upon entering a restaurant. Use the phrases below first to ask if there are seats available. By switching the word in the ○○, you can check the availability of smoking/non-smoking seats as well as private rooms.

[en]There are (number of people) of us. Is ○○ available?
[jp] ○人です。○○はありますか? (○nin desu. ○○ wa arimasu ka?)

▼Vocabulary
[en] seats  [jp] 席 (seki)
[en] smoking area [jp] 喫煙席 (kitsuen-seki)
[en] non-smoking [jp] 禁煙席 (kinen-seki)
[en] ashtray [jp] 灰皿 (haizara)
[en] private room [jp] 個室(koshitsu)

Look here for how to count in Japanese >


Ordering

【Frequently used phrases】

(1) When calling staff at a restaurant, raise your hand slightly and say "sumimasen." "Sumimasen" is a word used when apologizing or expressing gratitude, but it can also be used when addressing someone.

[en]Excuse me.
[jp]すみません。 (sumimasen.)

Look up detailed example on the usage as well as standard greetings from here >

(2) When you are not sure what to order, use this phrase to ask for the recommendation of the restaurant.

[en]Do you have a recommendation?
[jp]おすすめは何ですか? (osusume wa nandesu ka?)



【Convenient phrases which can be used by switching words】

(1) There are many restaurants which have photographic menus, and in that case you can point at the photo and use the phrase below. When pointing at the menu in your hand put "kore" in the ○○ part, and when pointing at something a bit away from you (i.e. when you would like to order the same dish as someone at another table), put "are" (pronounced ah-re).

[en]May I please have ○○?
[jp]○○をお願いします。 (○○ wo onegai shimasu.)

▼Vocabulary
[en] This  [jp] これ (kore)
[en] That over there [jp] あれ (are)

(2) When you would like to eat dishes with your desired ingredients, use this phrase to ask for it. The same phrase can be applied when asking for halal, vegetarian or vegan menu as well.

[en]Do you have ○○?
[jp]○○のメニューはありますか? (○○ no menyu wa arimasu ka?)

▼Vocabulary
[en] pork [jp] 豚肉 (buta-niku)
[en] beef [jp] 牛肉 (gyuu-niku)
[en] chicken [jp] 鶏肉 (tori-niku)
[en] fish [jp] 魚 (sakana)
[en] shrimp [jp] 海老 (ebi)
[en] shellfish [jp] 貝 (kai)
[en] vegetables [jp] 野菜 (yasai)
[en] drink [jp] 飲み物 (nomimono)
[en] halal [jp] ハラル (haral)
[en] vegetarian [jp] ベジタリアン (bejitarian)
[en] vegan [jp] ビーガン (biigan)

(3) When trying to say what what you cannot eat, use the phrase below. Put the name of an ingredient, a dish, or a flavor.

[en]I cannot eat ○○.
[jp]○○は食べられません。 (○○ wa taberare masen.)

▼Vocabulary
[en] pork [jp] 豚肉 (buta-niku)
[en] beef [jp] 牛肉 (gyuu-niku)
[en] chicken [jp] 鶏肉 (tori-niku)
[en] fish [jp] 魚 (sakana)
[en] shrimp [jp] 海老 (ebi)
[en] shellfish [jp] 貝 (kai)
[en] vegetables [jp] 野菜 (yasai)
[en] sweet [jp] 甘いもの (amai-mono)
[en] spicy [jp] 辛いもの (karai-mono)
[en] sour [jp] すっぱいもの (suppai-mono)
[en] salty [jp] 塩辛いもの (shiokarai-mono)
[en] bitter [jp] 苦いもの (nigai-mono)

Eating

【Frequently used phrases】

(1) In Japan there is a custom to put both hands together and say "itadaki masu" before starting to eat. The word contains a feeling of gratitude toward those who cooked the meal and created/cultivated/bred the ingredients, and toward the ingredients themselves.
Japanese people also say "gochisou sama deshita" with the same feeling of gratitude, after eating. Try saying "gochisou sama deshita" to restaurant staff after payment or when exiting.

[en]Bon appetite.
[jp]いただきます。 (itadaki masu.)

[en]Thanks for the meal.
[jp]ごちそうさまでした。 (gochisou sama deshita.)

(2) Why not let a restaurant staff, a chef or those you are eating with, know what you thought about it when you tasted a delicious dish? Since "oishii desu" is a phrase to be used during meal, try saying "oishikatta desu" if you have already finished eating.

[en]Delicious.
[jp]おいしいです。 (oishii desu.)


Paying

【Frequently used phrases】

(1) To pay after eating, you usually bring the check to the cash register, but some restaurants let you pay at the table. Say "sumimasen" to a staff when you want the check and use the phrase below.

[en]Check, please.
[jp]お会計をお願いします。 (okaikei o onegai shimasu.)

(2) In some restaurants, credit cards may not be accepted. If you would like to use your credit card, use the phrase below first to see if you can or cannot.

[en]Can I use credit card?
[jp]クレジットカードは使えますか? (kurejittokaado wa tsukaemasu ka?)


You will be all set with these phrases, even if you do not understand Japanese! Communicate well with staff members at a restaurant and enjoy a fulfilling meal.

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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Writer: nomura

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