Key Phrases to Order Food in a Japanese Restauant and Izakaya

Content Writer/ Margaret W. Lavigne 


As you enter a Japanese restaurant, convenience or cafe, you will be greeted with “いらっしゃいませ” (irasshai mase), which means welcome. And you do not have to reply to that greeting. A nodding smile would be enough. 


The first question you will be asked is  “何名様ですか?” (nan mei sama desu ka?) The waitress/ waiter just check the number of customers. 


“一人です” (hitori desu) =1 person.

“二人です” (futari desu) =2 persons

“三人です” (san nin desu) = 3 persons 

“四人です”(  yon nin desu )= 4 persons


“様” is used by the waitress to show their respect to the customers. Do not use “sama(様)” in reply. Do not use “様” when you referring yourself either.


As the waitress lead you to a table, they will say “こちらへどうぞ” (kochira e douzo– Please come with me). And you will be given a menu“メニュー.” 


You can ask for an English menu with the sentence “英語のメニューがありますか?” (eigo no menyuu ga arimasu ka? – Do you have an English menu?).


As to the high-end Japanese restaurants, they usually prepare a bilingual menu in Japanese and English or a menu in Japanese and Chinese. 


The staff may hand you a small hand towel (おしぼり、oshibori) and you can say “ありがとうございます (thank you)” out of politeness.


“はい” (hai – Yes) 

“ありがとうございます” (arigatou gozaimasu – Thank you)

Ordering food/drinks in Japanese 
The waitress might ask “お飲み物は?” (onomi mono wa? )=They are asking whether you want to order drinks or not. 


“飲み物”=drink  noun. 


“お飲み物はいかが致しますか。” (onomi mono wa ika ga itashimasu ka? =What would you like to drink =It’s a more polite and official way of asking ).


State the name of want you to want to order + “お願いします” (onegai shimasu – Please).

e.g. beer (ビール- biiru)をお願いします.

e.g.お茶 (ocha) をお願いします.


If you are visiting Tokyo, some menus may be written in both Japanese and English. However, if you visit traditional restaurants, or in a rural or suburban area, menus might be written in Japanese only. Izakaya (いざかや・居酒屋) refers to the traditional Japanese restaurants for the mainstream public to enjoy wine and food at a relatively affordable price.  

If you can’t read hiragana/katakana, or if the dishes is written in kanji (漢字)you can just point the food you want to order and say “これをお願いします”(kore o onegaisimasu) 


これ(kore)= this 


 If you don’t like eggs (卵 tamago), you can say “卵を抜きにしてもらえますか?” (tamago wo nuki ni shite moraemasu ka? – May I have it without  any egg inside?).

抜き: remove   verb. 

In a Japanese restaurant, they usually offer cold water and hot tea for the customers. 

If you want to order more food, just raise your hand and say “すみません” (sumimasen – Excuse me) or press the call buttons at the table,  and you will be served shortly.


“ご注文はお決まりですか。” (gochuumon wa okimari desu ka? – Have you decided what you want to order?).

決まり= make the decision = verb. 


If you haven’t made your decision, you can reply with the sentence“もう少し時間を頂けますか?” (mou sukoshi jikan wo itadakemasu ka? – Can I have a little more time?). 

時間= time

頂けますか= a phrase of the Japanese to show your respect 


“お勧めは何ですか?” (osusume wa nan desu ka? – What do you recommend?).


As you finish ordering, the server will say “はい、少々お待ち下さい” (hai, shoushou omachi kudasai – Okay, please wait).

待ち= wait  verb. 


#numbers for quantity in Japanese 

one 一つ hitotsu
two 二つ futatsu
three 三つ mittsu
four 四つ yottsu
five 五つ itsutsu
six 六つ muttsu
seven 七つ nanatsu
eight 八つ yattsu
nine 九つ kokonotsu
ten 十 too


“申し訳ありません。カレーは本日売り切れてしまいました。他のものをお選び頂けますか。” (moushiwake arimasen. Karee wa honjitsu urikire te shimaimashita. Menyuu kara hoka no mono wo oerabi itadakemasu ka? – I am terribly sorry, but the curry has sold out. Would you like anything else?)

売り切れ= sold out

本日= today 



 “ラストオーダーになります。他にご注文はありませんか” (rasuto oodaa ni narimasu. Hoka ni gochuumon wa arimasen ka? – We are taking last orders. Do you want to order anything else?). If you don’t need to order more food,  just reply “ありません” (arimasen – no).

ラストオーダ=last  order 

他に: other 


Ask for the Bill
Just say   “お会計をお願いします” (okaikei wo onegai shimasu-Check, plz ).

Usually, the bill will be placed on your table, just take it up to the cashier before you leave.In Japan, you don’t have to tip in a Western-style restaurant. It’s not their custom.  


“会計は別々でお願いします。”( Kaikei wa betsubetsu de onegai shimasu- Separate the  bills, please.) 


Some small traditional restaurants in Japan do not take credit cards.

クレジットカードは使えますか。(Kurejitto ka-do wa tsukaemasu ka?) = Can I use credit cards?

使え=use verb.
クレジットカード= credit card


If you love the food they served, you can say “ごちそうさまでした。” (gochisousama deshita – Thanks for serving the food. ) before you leave.


If you love the food they served, you can say “最高” (saiko- This is the best.  )The chef will be much pleased. 


More Info

これに何が入っていますか?=Kore ni nani ga haitte imasu ka?=What’s the material inside?

___にアレルギーがあります。(=____ ni arerugi- ga arimasu.) =I am allergic to ____.

これは___付きですか?=Kore wa ____ tsuki desu ka?=Does this come with ____?


Do not ask for a children’s menu, it’s not common in Japan. Some restaurants might provide special dishes for kids, but they won’t have a children’s menu. 


If you are a vegetarian, you can ask “ベジタリアン食べ物はありますか?” (bejitarian dabemono wa arimasu ka?– Do you provide vegetarian dishes?)






Margaret W. Lavigne

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