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Easy Japanese Phrases To Use When Eating At A Restaurant In Japan: A Guide

Japanese Phrases To Use When Eating At A Restaurant In Japan

Here are useful and easy Japanese phrases to use when eating at a restaurant in Japan. Learn these Japanese phrases that are commonly used when dining out and you’ll have a fun experience in any Japanese restaurant!

It’s no fun being in Japan if you don’t eat out and explore all that yum Japanese cuisine. 

In the bigger cities, you will find a lot of different cuisines from different parts of the world, and the waiters will also probably be able to understand English. 

But if you’re living in or travelling to some of the smaller cities, this might not be the case. In any case, it’s always good to learn easy Japanese phrases to use when eating at a restaurant in Japan

In this article, I have put together some of the most used, easy Japanese for dining out in Japan. 

Let’s go step by step. 

Here are easy Japanese phrases to use when eating at a restaurant in Japan

Easy Japanese Phrases To Use When Dining At A Restaurant In Japan

Japanese Phrases to Use When Entering the Restaurant

Start with “Excuse me”. This, of course, is not only a phrase you will use in Japanese restaurants, but anywhere in Japan when you want to ask someone something. 

The phrase is pronounced Sumimasen. Some people also use Sumisen if they find the former difficult to pronounce. 

This is also a word you can use to call your waiter while you’re inside the restaurant. 

The waiter or the person at the reception may say Irasshaimase, indicating that they are welcoming you to the restaurant. 

Though there is no proper reply for this, you can smile and bow politely in response. 

The usual things that you would say or do as soon as you enter a restaurant is to ask the waiter for a table. For this, you need to learn the actual phrase of requesting for a table as well as numbers to mention the party size. 

Htori desu – this roughly translates to “I’m one”, otherwise meaning, it’s you dining by yourself. Hitori here is the number one, so for a party of different sizes, replace Htori with other numbers. 

Htori – One

Ftari – Two

San nin – Three

Yonin – Four

Gonin – Five

If the restaurant is full and there is no table available, the waiter might say Sumimasen, tadaima manseki nanode, omachi itadaku koto ni narimasu ga yoroshii deshouka? This means “There is no table available right now, Can you please wait for sometime?”

Another thing you might ask your waiter is for a specific kind of table, as in, for a smoking or non smoking table. In most Japanese restaurants, bars and cafes, you will find people smoking in designated areas, so it’s a good idea to let the waiter know what kind of a table you would prefer. 

Here are a couple of phrases you can learn to convey the same:

Kitsuenseki onegaishimasu – means, “A smoking table, please”

Kinen seki onegaishimasu – means, “A non-smoking table, please”

If you want to request for a private table, you could say Koshitsu arimasuka?” which translates to “Do you have a private table?”

Japanese Phrases to Use When Placing the Order for Food and Drinks

Many Japanese restaurants do have an English menu as they cater to a lot of expats and tourists. You can request for one as soon as you sit down at your table. 

Say, Eigo no menyu arimasuka?, which means, “Do you have an English menu”. 

Raise your hand and say sumimasen to call your waiter and let them know you are ready to order. 

Order onegaishimasu – Can you take my order please?

Many restaurants in Japan have pictographical menus which makes it very easy to point to a dish and order. Some of them even have the food displayed in counters so you can make your choice. 

When you have chosen what you want to eat, point to the dish either on the menu or in the display and say kore wo onegai shimasu. As you might have guessed, this translates to “I’d like to order this”

If you want something very specific and want to know if they have it, say __wa arimasuka?. This means “Do you have __?” in Japanese. 

If the restaurant you’re in does not have a pictographical menu or a display of the food, you might wonder what the dishes on the menu are. This might also apply if you have any allergies or special dietary or lifestyle restrictions and are interested in knowing what the dish is. 

Learn the phrase ___wa nandesuka? to use in such situations. It means “What is ____?”

It’s also very helpful to learn what different meats are called in Japanese, and can come very handy if you don’t like or eat a certain type of meat or vegetable:

  • Gyuniku – beef 
  • Butaniku – pork 
  • toriniku – chicken
  • sakana – fish
  • Ebi – shrimp
  • Kai – shellfish
  • Tamago – Egg

If you want to simply ask the waiter what kind of meat is in a particular dish, ask kore wa nan no oniku desuka?

Also, learn the names of vegetables:

  • Ninjin – carrot 
  • tamanegi – onion
  • daikon – white radish 
  • nira – chive 
  • negi – scallions 
  • pinattsu – peanut

If you prefer certain kinds of flavours, you could ask for them:

  • Karaimono – spicy food
  • Amaimono– sweet food

If you or somebody in your party is vegetarian and you want to request a vegetarian menu, say bejitarian menyu

If you want to order a meal without a particular ingredient in it, use the word nuki”, to let the waiter know that you want something “without”. 

For example, you would say Ninjin Nuki” to let the waiter know that you don’t want carrots in your meal. 

You might also want something to drink to wash down all that delicious food. Here are some Japanese words for common drinks:

  • Wain no menyu o misete itadakemasuka? – Can I have/see a wine list?
  • aruko-ru dorinku – alcoholic drinks
  • sofuto dorinku – Soft drink or non-alcoholic drink
  • Birru – Beer
  • Mizu – Water
  • omizu – cold water
  • oyu – hot water
  • Ocha- Tea
  • Kohi – Coffee

One thing you should be aware of is, the portion sizes in Japan are quite small. While they are quite enough for the Japanese, foreigners might like larger portions. 

If that’s the case with you, say Ohmori onegaishimasu, requesting for a large portion. 

If you want a refill, use the phrase Okawari Kudasai

Now that we have covered food and drink, you should also know some other common items you might need when you’re sitting down in a restaurant:

The Japanese do have some raw food on their menu. If you aren’t comfortable with it, you might want to know if it’s raw before you place your order.

Ask, Kore wa nama mono desu ka?  Which means, “Is this raw?”

Easy Japanese Words and Phrases To Use When Dining At A Restaurant In Japan:

  • Foku– Fork
  • Supun – Spoon
  • Naifu – Knife
  • Menyu- Menu
  • Onegai Shimasu – Please
  • Kozara – Small Plates
  • Oikura desu ka? – How much does this cost?/ How much is this?
  • Otearai wa doko desu ka? – Where is the toilet?
  • Kodomo yo no isu wa arimasuka? – Do you have high chairs for children?

Easy Japanese Phrases to use While Dining

If you hear the waiter or the chef say Dozo meshiagatte kudasai, they are saying “Enjoy your meal”.

Your waiter or maitre’d might ask you how your food is. If you’ve been enjoying it, say Oishii desu, meaning, “It’s delicious”. You can also say Suki desu, which translates to “I like it”.

If you don’t like something, you can say Amari suki de wa nai desu, which means “I don’t really like it”. 

As is the case in English, there is a phrase in Japanese that is equivalent to “Bon Appetit” at the beginning of the meal. It is pronounced as Itadakimasu. This actually translates to “Thanks for the food” or “I am grateful for the food”.

If you’re toasting with a drink, use the phrase Kanpai, similar to “Cheers” in English. 

Another phrase that is used by the Japanese at the end of a meal is Gochisousama deshita. It is polite to say this when you are done eating. 

Easy Japanese Phrases to Use When Paying for the Meal

Some restaurants allow you to pay at the table, whereas some expect you to carry the check to the casier and make the payment there. 

When you are ready to pay, ask, Okaikei kudasai, which means, “Please give us the bill”. In short, you can also say Okaikei, Onegai Shimasu, which translates to “Check, Please”.

Some of the smaller or family run restaurants may not accept card payments. It’s a good idea to check if they do. 

Say Kurejitto kaado de daijobu desuka?, meaning, “Can I pay by credit card?”. If you want a receipt for your card payment, say Ryoshusho kudasai which means, “Please give me a receipt”. 

If you’ve dined in a group and each of you wants to pay for your portion separately, ask the waiter or the cashier betsubetsu ni dekimasuka,  which means “Can we pay separately”.

Japanese Phrases to Use when Exiting the Restaurant

At the end of the meal, when you’re leaving the restaurant, you might hear the waiter say Touten o erabi itadaki, arigato gozaimasu. This means, “Thank you for dining with us”. 

You could respond with a bow or smile. If you enjoyed your time there and intend going back, you can reply with Mata kimasu, meaning, “I’ll visit again”

You can also say gochisosama deshita, which means thank you for the meal”

Another phrase you might hear when you’re leaving is Goyukkuri dozo which means “Have a pleasant time”.

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