In this week’s podcast Yoshiko and Alex discuss useful Japanese vocabulary and cultural points and advice for ordering sushi at a Japanese restaurant like a native.
The good news is you don’t have to learn a huge amount of vocabulary to order your your favorite dishes if you learn just a few useful key phrases.
Listen to the podcast and then you can read the vocabulary list, dialog and cultural tips and advice below.
Vocabulary from the Podcast
|貫||Kan||Counter for sushi|
|一貫||Ikkan||1 piece of sushi|
|一貫ずつ||Ikkan zutsu||One piece of each|
|できますか||Dekimasu ka||Can you make it?|
|茶碗蒸し||Chawan Mushi||Egg and custard dish|
|えんがわ||Engawa||Fin of flounder (flatfish)|
|ごちそうさまでした||Gochisōsama deshita||That was delicious|
|回転寿し||Kaitenzushi||Conveyor belt sushi|
|お腹いっぱい||Onaka ippai||I’m full|
|刺身||Sashimi||Slices of fish|
|寿司||Sushi||Slices of fish on rice|
|つまみ||Tsumami||Used when ordering just the meat of the fish rather than sushi|
|ガリ||Gari||Slices of ginger in sweet vinegar|
Dialog for ordering Sushi
Here is the main dialog in the podcast for ordering sushi at a Japanese restaurant.
|A:大将！サーモン２貫ください||Taishō! Saamon Ni Kan Kudasai||Chef, 2 pieces of salmon please.|
|A:雲丹といくら１貫ずつできますか||Uni to ikura Ikkan zutsu dekimasu ka||Can you do 1 sea urchin and 1 salmon roe?|
|A:さび抜きでお願いします||Sabi nuki de onegaishimasu||Without wasabi please.|
|A:お腹いっぱい。大将あがり一丁||Onaka ippai. Taishō agari ichō||I’m full. Chef, 1 tea please.|
10 Cultural Tips for Ordering Sushi
Here are 10 useful cultural points that will really help you when ordering sushi in Japan.
1. Call the Sushi chef “Taishō”
When you order from a sushi chef it is custom to refer to them as 大将 – Taishō. This means various things including general, boss, cheif etc. but in this context is used specifically to adress a sushi chef.
2. Use “Kan” counter to order sushi.
When counting pieces of Sushi you usually use the counter “kan”. For example:
一貫 – Ikkan – One piece of sushi
二貫 – Nikan – Two pieces of sushi
三貫 – Sankan – Three pieces of sushi
四貫 – Yonkan – Four pieces of sushi
|大将サーモンを一貫下さい||Taishō saamon o ikkan kudasai||One piece of salmon please chef|
|大将マグロを二貫ください||Taishō maguro o nikan kudasai||Two pieces of tuna please chef|
|大将たまごを三貫ください||Taishō tamago o sankan kudasai||Three piece of egg please chef|
|大将雲丹を四貫ください||Taishō uni o yonkan kudasai||Four pieces of sea urchin please chef|
An important thing to remember is it is not so common to order more than 2 or 3 pieces of the same type of sushi at the same time. The most common is ２貫 Nikan – two pieces of sushi. It is possible to say something like this:
Tamago o nikan, saamon o nikan, maguro o nikan kudasai
2 pieces of egg, 2 salmon and 2 tuna please.
3) Use the word “agari” to order green tea
When you want to order tea say あがり一丁 agari ichō. This is a special way to order green tea that is particular to sushi restaurants. When you order, they usually bring it to you in a cup. However, in many conveyor belt sushi restaurants it’s common to make your own tea by putting green tea powder in a cup and adding hot water from a tap at the counter.
4) It is OK to use your hands when eating sushi
Believe it or not it is acceptable to use your hands when eating sushi. There is no decidedly proper way to eat sushi. However, when in doubt just copy what every one else is doing in the restaurant.
5) How to dip sushi in soy sauce
The proper way to eat sushi is to very lightly dip the meat of the fish in the soy sauce and not the rice. If soy gets on the rice it can start to fall apart and is not considered the most tasty way to eat it.
Some people even turn the sushi upside down in their mouth when eating so that the tongue touches the meat first.
Also, go easy on the soy sauce and the ginger. Japanese people tend not to drown each piece of sushi in soy sauce. Ginger is supposed to be eaten just to cleanse the palate between dishes.
6) Not all sushi is raw
It is in fact possible to order broiled versions of your favorite sushi which is called 炙り aburi. One particular favorite is 炙りサーモン Aburi saamon or broiled salmon. The chef will take a torch to the Sushi which gives it a delicious seared and smokey taste.
7) Say Gochisōsama when you finish eating
ごちそうさま Gochisōsama means “that was delicious” and you usually say it at the end of a meal. It’s common to say it either eating at a restaurant or at someone’s house after eating a meal with them.
8) To get the bill say Okaikei kudasai
To get the bill say お会計ください okaikei kudasai. The staff will come to the counter or table where you are seated and count the empty dishes to calculate the bill.
If you enjoyed this podcast you can find all our other Japanese language learning podcasts here.
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