Essential lingo

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So you are comfortable raising the necessary digits indicating your group number as you enter the izakaya and IRASSHAIMASE!! is barked by the staff at you in unison, but sometimes we need to dig deeper  beyond the basics of restaurant behaviour and although using the odd slang word will generate some good energy or amusement/bemusement, a good word or phrase that you probably “shouldn’t ” know as a Gaijin will put everyone on a good plane.

This list of words will come in handy when that textbook Japanese you are using is just too cold and some colourful language is needed to break the ice or gain a tiny bit of respect. You might not want to use some of these words in a stuffy establishment but none are profane! If you have any gems to add, please share!


Itamae– these days itamae is the common term for sushi chefs but means the cook usually working under the Hanaita (chef de cuisine or executive chef) Itamae ,like a line cook in the west, would specialise in one station and the dishes that come from it; Nikata are in charge of simmered dishes, Ageba, of deep fried station, Yakikata of the grill…


Please give me…(kudasai)


Water– usually mizu or more formally omizu, ohiya

 Beer – regular draft beer, nama. Nama means fresh but if you say “nama kudasai” to your server a cold generic tasting pilsner will promptly arrive at your table.

Soy sauce – normally called shoyu, if you ask for murasaki at the sushi bar they’ll know what you want and be perplexed that you knew that word.





Hungry…(peko peko damon)


Food bender-kuidaore. The term kuidaore originated in Osaka and is essentially the food version of a pub crawl where your good self and a willing accomplice will go from one restaurant/food wagon/bar to the next sampling their best and repeating until it hurts!


Please help me continue this list…







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Author: jason toner