Japanese Essentials: What Is This Item On The Restaurant Menu?

Once you learn a few basic words, ordering at a Japanese restaurant is not very difficult. This article will cover how to ask for recommendations.

Posted by on August 30, 2017 – Japanese Study
japanese restaurant

Placing an order at a Japanese restaurant is not that difficult once you know a few key phrases. Many Japanese restaurants are starting to create English menus or ones with pictures on them but in some of the more traditional restaurants you will still need to be able to read Japanese.

In this lesson we are going to focus on asking what an item is on the menu or asking the server for their recommendation.

Sample questions:

If you don’t know what you want to order you can ask the waiter by saying:

おすすめはなんですか。(What do you recommend?).

Many Japanese restaurant has a lunch set you can ask, 今日きょうのランチはなんですか。(What’s the lunch of today?)

なん is the question word for “what”. For an easy question, you simply use the copula です (to be) and the question marker か.

ジェニー:すみません、今日きょうのランチはなんですか。
店員: カレーです。

Jenny: Excuse me, what’s the lunch of today?
Waiter: It is curry.

If you’re having trouble reading an item on the menu you can simply point to it and say, これはなんですか (What is this?).

ジェニー:すみません。これ、なんですか。
店員:牛丼ぎゅうどんです。
ジェニー:このあかいの、なんですか。
店員:しゅうがですよ。
ジェニー:しゅうが?しゅうがって、なんですか。
店員:Gingerです。

Jenny: Excuse me. What is this?
Waiter: It is gyudon.
Jenny: What is this red item?
Waiter: That is shoga.
Jenny: Shoga? What is shoga?
Waiter: It is ginger.

って is the contraction of と a particle you use to indicate a quote. The particle is used here to emphasize the word you’re asking about – here しょうが.  ってなんですか is a phrase you can use to ask about the meaning of something you don’t understand.

Vocabulary:

  • あかい ー Red (adjective)
  • 日替ひがわり ー Meal of the day
  • おすすめ ー Recommendation
  • デザート ー Desert
  • セットのロリンク ー Drink included in the meal set

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