Easy Japanese For Dining Out In Japan

From asking for an English menu to ordering your food

By Fiona Uyema
October 22, 2017
Lifestyle

Mastering the restaurant lingo.

Dining out is an essential experience when traveling in any country. But despite having a diverse international dining scene, you may find that getting around at restaurants in Japan in English — especially in smaller cities — may be a challenge. How do you ask for an English menu? And how do you order if the menu is entirely written in kanji? And how can you ask where the restroom is?

When I first lived in Japan, I created a list of greetings, useful expressions and words to use while in restaurants or coffee shops. Some restaurants show pictures of the dishes on the menu or you can even find them on display in front of restaurants, but a basic list of useful phrases will allow you to eat where the locals eat, in the small family owned restaurants off the beaten track with the most delicious food in Japan. Here is a guide to some of the most useful phrases to practice when dining and wining at Japanese restaurants.

Entering the restaurant  

  • Ni mei desu or Futari desu (2名です・二人です)We’re two/ We’d like a table for two. Use this phrase when entering a restaurant. If more than two people, just replace “ni” with another number.
  • Kinen seki onegaishimasu (禁煙席お願いします)A non-smoking table, please.
  • Kitsuenseki onegaishimasu (喫煙席お願いします)A smoking table, please.
  • Koshitsu arimasuka? (個室ありますか?) Do you have a private table?

Ordering food and drinks, getting around

  • Eigo no menyu arimasuka? (英語のメニューありますか?)Do you have an English menu?
  • Wain no menyu o misete itadakemasuka? (ワインのメニューを見せていただけますか?)Can I see the wine list?
  • Watashi wa begitarian desu. Begitarian menyu arimasuka? (私はベジタリアンです。ベジェタリアンメニューありますか?) I am vegetarian. Do you have a vegetarian menu?
  • Kore wa nan desu ka? (これは何ですか?)What is this?
  • Kore wa nama mono desu ka? (これは生物ですか?)Is this raw?
  • Gurasu wain wo futatsu onegaishimasu (グラスワインを二つお願いします)Two glasses of wine, please.
  • Kochira wo onegaishimasu. (こちらをお願いします)I’d like to order this. Use when pointing at the menu.
  • Order onegaishimasu. (オーダーお願いします) Excuse me. Can you take our (my) order, please.
  • Gyuniku (butaniku, chikin) ryouri ga tabetai desuga, menyu ni arimasuka? (牛肉/豚肉/チキン料理が食べたいですが、メニューにありますか?)I’d like to have beef/pork/chicken. Do you have any in your menu?
  • Kodomo yo no isu wa arimasuka? (子供用の椅子はありますか?)Do you have any high chairs for the kids?
  • Toire (otearai) wa doko desu ka?  (トイレ・お手洗いはどこですか?)Where is the toilet?
  • Oikura desu ka (おいくらですか?)How much is this?

Paying

  • Okaikei kudasai. (お会計ください)Please give us the bill.
  • Kurejitto kaado de daijobu desuka? (クレジットカードで大丈夫ですか?) Can I pay by credit card?
  • Ryoshusho kudasai (領収書ください)Please give me a receipt.

Food-related greetings

  • Kanpai (乾杯)Cheers when toasting drinks
  • Itadakimasu (いただきます)Bon appeti. Literally, “I accept,” this is an expression used at the beginning of a meal by those eating it to show appreciation of the food that has been served and the people who have prepared it.
  • Gochisousama deshita (ごちそうさまでした)An expression used at the end of a meal by those who have eaten it
  • Oishii desu (美味しいです)It’s delicious.
  • Suki desu (好きです)I like it
  • Amari suki de wa nai desu (あまり好きではないです)I don’t like it very much

Phrases you will hear at restaurants

  • Irasshaimase (いらっしゃいませ)Welcome. There is no need to reply to this greeting, you can just smile, bow or say hello.
  • Touten o erabi itadaki, arigato gozaimasu. (当店を選びいただき、ありがとうございます) Thank you for dining with us.
  • Goyukkuri dozo (ごゆっくりどうぞ)Have a pleasant time.
  • Dozo meshiagatte kudasai (どうぞ、召し上がってください)Enjoy your meal, said by the cook/chef  
  • Sumimasen, tadaima manseki nanode, omachi itadaku koto ni narimasu ga yoroshii deshouka? (すみません、只今満席なので、お待ち頂くことになりますが、よろしいでしょうか)I am so sorry, there is no table available now. We will have to ask you to wait a little, but is this alright for you?

Other useful words to know

  • Onegaishimasu (お願いします)Please
  • Sakana (魚) Fish
  • Niku (肉)Meat
  • Yasai (野菜) Vegetables
  • Begitarian (ベジタリアン)Vegetarian
  • Biiru (ビール)Beer
  • Mizu (水)Water
  • Ocha (お茶)Tea
  • Kohi (コーヒー)Coffee
  • Mata kimasu (また来ます)I’ll come again