Japanese Essentials: Key Phrases for Ordering at a Restaurant

Ordering at a restaurant in Japan can be a little intimidating if you can’t read the menu. But fear no more as we have gathered a few key phrases for you to enjoy your meal!

How many of you are there?
Placing your Order
Sample Dialogue

How many of you are there?

As soon as you enter the restaurant the floor staff will come to you and ask 何名様なんめいさまですか (“how many people”?). Don’t know how to count in Japanese? No problem, use your fingers to indicate 2, 3 or more people. Simply reply  using the counter for people 人 (にん) and the copula です:
Remember that 1 person is ひとり and 2 persons ふたり.

  • 1 person: ひとり(1人)
  • 2 persons: ふたり(2人)
  • 3 persons: さんにん(3人)
  • number + にん
Japanese Essentials: Key Phrases for Ordering at a Restaurant, illustration, photo, picture, image, people, numbers

Number of People

Placing your Order

The floor staff will guide you to your table, hand you the menu and a rolled wet towel called おしぼり, to wash your hands. If you can’t read Japanese, you can try and ask for an English menu with this phrase:
英語えいごのメニューがありますか。(Do you have an English menu?)

Japanese Essentials: Key Phrases for Ordering at a Restaurant, image, illustration, photo, picture, menu, english

Asking for an English Menu

When you’ve decided on what to order you can get the server’s attention with a loud すみません or if available, press a call button on the table.
To order your food, use the following phrase:
カレー(を)ひとつおねがいします。(one curry please)
The phrase(を)おねがいします is a very polite way to make a request and can be translated as “please”.
The particle を, marking a direct object of a verb in a sentence, can be omitted. Be careful, this particle can be written “wo” but is always pronounced “o”.
ひとつ is a Japanese counter you can use to count dishes when making an order.
If you can’t read the dish name on the menu, simply point and say:
これ(を)ひとつおねがいします。(One of this, please.)

  • これ: this


Sample Dialogue

Waiter: Are you ready to order?
Mary: Yes. I’ll have one curry and one beer, please.
Waiter: Will that be all?
Mary: Yes, that’s all. Oh, could I also have some water?
Waiter: Right away.

もらえます comes from the verb もらえる, “to receive” and in this particular context, the question translates “could I have”.


  • 注文ちゅうもん: order; the prefix ご is added to sound more polite
  • まりですか: a polite way to ask if you “are decided”
  • はい: yes
  • なまビール: draft beer
  • 以上いじょうで: that’s all
  • よろしいですか: polite way to ask if “it’s okay?”
  • あと: also
  • みず: water, the prefix お is added to sound more polite
  • かしこまりました ー translates as “alright”, “right away”. It’s a very polite way to say you have understood a request.

When you’re ready to leave, you can ask for the bill with the phrase お会計かいけいねがいします or, if you already have the bill on your table, walk directly to the cashier to pay. Once you’ve done you can let the waiter know you appreciate the meal by saying:
ごちそうさまでした。(Thank you very much (for the meal.)
With these in mind, why not try ordering a bowl of Ramen! If in doubt of what’s on the menu, here’s how you can ask for guidance with regard to what’s on the menu!

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Coto Japanese Academy is a unique Japanese Language School in Iidabashi Tokyo, we offer relaxed and fun conversational lessons for all levels of Japanese learner. Coto Japanese Academy prides itself on its community atmosphere and fun lessons that focus on creation of opportunities to speak and learn Japanese. If you are interested in studying Japanese in Tokyo – please visit our contact page here.


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