Want to know some important Japanese restaurant phrases?
Of course you do. That’s why you’re here.
Thats why I’m here. To teach you Japanese restaurant phrases.
And away we go…!
By the way, if you want to hear REAL Japanese, check out this audio lesson by JapanesePod101. Press play below. Why? It’s one thing to read about Japanese and another to hear native speakers — you learn faster!
- “Survival Phrases S2 #1 – Thank You!”
- Lesson by by JapanesePod101 (click here for more fun audio lessons)
1. _____ mei desu. ＿＿＿名です。A table for _____ please.
If you walk into a Japanese restaurant, often they’ll ask you, “nanmei desu ka?” Or, “how many people?”
So, this phrase is useful for when you first walk into the restaurant. You can indicate to the waiter how many people you need a table for.
If you’re just one person, you can say “hitori.” But, if it’s 2 or 3 of you, you can say “ni mei desu” or “san mei desu.” Of course for that, you should also learn Japanese numbers.
2. Menyuu wa arimasu ka? メニューはありますか？ Is there a menu?
If you need to see the menu, this can be a useful phrase.
Sometimes, it’s helpful to see the menu before deciding on the restaurant. You can also use this before you decide to sit down! Keep in mind that in Japan, there are restaurants without a menu where you might buy tickets from a vending machine, or the menu is written on the walls.
By the way, if you totally forget this Japanese restaurant phrase… at least remember that “menyuu” sounds the same as the English “menu.” So, the staff will understand you if you jus say “menu.”
3. Eigo no menyuu wa arimasuka? 英語のメニューはありますか? Do you have an English menu?
In the touristic cities of Japan, there may be restaurants that can provide you with an English menu. Use this phrase to ask for one. If you can’t read Japanese, many menus in Japan will also have pictures of the food, or plastic models of the food outside of the restaurant!
4. Oomori/Sukuname de onegaishimasu. 大盛り/少なめでお願いします。I’d like to have a large/small portion, please.
In some restaurants it may be common to be able to ask for a larger or smaller portion of food, especially with rice or noodles. This comes from the culture in Japan to not waste any food! It’s considered rude to have leftover food on the plate, so it is more polite to ask for the amount of food you feel comfortable eating.
5. _____ o kudasai. ______ をください。Could I have ______?
This phrase can be used to ask for anything you might need and to also tell the waiter what you want to order.
Simply fill the blank with what you need like water, tea, or something on the menu!
So, in the case of water…
- Mizu o kudasai.
- 水 をください。
- Could I have water?
Similarly, since you that menu in Japanese is “menyuu/メニュー”, you can say…
- Menyuu o kudasai.
- メニュー をください。
- Could I have menu?
6. Sumimasen! すみません! Excuse me!
This phrase can be used to get the waiter’s attention.
You can ask any questions or requests to the waiter after saying “Sumimasen!” In some high-tech restaurants, you may not even need to call the attention of a waiter. The tables might have buttons at each table to call a waiter.
7. Higawari menyuu wa arimasu ka? 日替わりメニューはありますか？ Do you have any daily specials?
Japanese people enjoy eating a variety of foods. One way that restaurants can catch the attention of the customers, is by having a daily special menu. You can use this phrase to see if the restaurant has any daily specials.
8. _____ ga haitte imasu ka? _____が入ってますか? – Is there _____ in this dish?
If you have any dietary concerns you can use this phrase!
You can put an ingredient that you can’t eat into the blank. You can ask about milk, gluten, meat, etc…
9. _____ ga taberaremasen. ＿＿＿＿が食べられません。 – I can’t eat _____.
It’s a good idea to use this phrase to tell the waiter what you can’t eat. Also, if you’re making a reservation for a high-end restaurant where there is a set course meal, be sure to say all of your food intolerances and allergies in advance.
By the way, if you need to know Japanese vegan or vegetarian phrases, check out my other post here: How to Say Vegetarian & Vegan in Japanese. 27 Important Diet Phrases.
10. Fooku to naifu ga arimasu ka? フォークとナイフがありますか？ Do you have a fork and knife?
Don’t worry if you’re not completely confident using chopsticks in Japan! Most western style dining will have forks, knives, and spoons. However, if you come across a situation where you feel like you want a knife and fork, you could ask this phrase.
11. Nanpun machimasuka? 何分待ちますか？ – How many minutes will we wait?
In Japan, many popular restaurants will have lines outside the door during peak hours. With foods like ramen and other quick meals, these lines can go relatively fast. However, if you’re wondering how long you might wait, you can ask this phrase.
12. Okawari dekimasu ka? お変わりできますか? – Can I have a refill/seconds?
In most cases, drinks or beverages are non-refillable unless it says something on the menu. If you need to ask if you can get a refill, use this phrase. In addition to drinks, it’s also sometimes possible to get extra rice, so it can be good to ask if you’re still hungry.
13. Osusume no ____ wa nandesuka? オススメの＿＿＿＿はなんですか？ What is the recommended _____?
If you’re wondering what the waiter recommends, ask this phrase and fill in the blank with the type of food you’re looking for. For example, you could ask for a recommended dessert, drink, or side dish.
Or even easier, you can just directly ask for a general recommendation:
- Osusume wa nan desu ka?
- What’s recommended?
14. __ nuki de onegaishimasu. ___抜きでお願いします。 Without ___ please.
Don’t like wasabi? Or mayonnaise? Don’t want ice in your drink? Well, remember the word, “nuki.” Kind of rhymes like “cookie.”
You can say “wasabi nuki de onegaishimasu” and basically you’re telling them to leave out the wasabi. Or just say whatever other thing you don’t like in front of the “nuki de onegaishimasu” so they can omit it from your order.
15. Otearai wa doko desu ka? お手洗いはどこですか? Where is the bathroom?
This is a polite way to ask about the bathroom.
If you need to use the bathroom in the restaurant, this is a useful phrase.
16. _____ ni yoyaku ga arimasu. ＿＿＿＿に予約があります。I have a reservation for _____.
If you made an advanced reservation, you can tell the waiter this phrase with what time you have the reservation. They’ll also ask your name to confirm!
Or, you can also simply say…
- Yoyaku ga arimasu
- I have a reservation.
At which point, they’ll ask for your name afterwards. But, you can use either phrase.
17. O-kaikei onegaishimasu. お会計お願いします。Check please.
“Kaikei” means check. The “O” makes it more polite. So, when you’re done with a meal and are ready to pay, you can look for a waiter and tell them, “Okaikei onegaishimasu.”
18. Betsu betsu de onegai shimasu. 別々でお願いします。I’d like to pay separately.
This is useful if you want to pay separately. In Japan, there is more of a culture of paying for other people, especially if you are older or of a higher social hierarchy. It’s good to use this phrase to make it clear to the waiter that you wish to pay separately.
19. Genkin nomi desu ka? 現金のみですか？ – Is it cash only?
Many places in Japan are still cash only, and there is not as much credit/debit cards being used as in other countries. You can ask this phrase to check if it is cash only.
20. Totemo oishikatta desu! とても美味しかったです！ – It was very delicious!
You can express your appreciation for the food with this phrase. It can be nice to say this to the waiter or the chef if you enjoyed your meal!
21. Gochisou sama deshita! ごちそうさまでした！Thank you for the meal!
Now, this phrase does not literally mean “thank you for the meal.” This is a Japanese set phrase. Set phrases are time/culture-specific phrases you’d automatically say on specific occasions. Kind of like “bless you” when someone sneezes. Japanese has a lot of them and while it’s hard to translate them literally, they do carry certain meanings.
What it literally means is, “you were a feast giver.”
However, Japanese people say this after a meal to the cook to thank them for the feast. So, when you’re done with a meal, you can say that. For example, when you’re leaving a sushi restaurant, the chefs will all loudly thank you and you can use this phrase out loud as you get up.
Now you know a whole bunch of Japanese restaurant phrases.
If you’re looking for a phrasebook to learn even more, check out my other article here: Japanese Phrasebook Collection: Top 10 Books for Learners.
Do you know any other Japanese restaurant phrases?
Leave a comment below.
The Main Lingua Junkie