One of the most intimidating things about eating out at a Japanese restaurant is figuring out how to order. It’s like being faced by an entire menu that you don’t know what any of it means, but you are expected to order something from it anyway.
The thing is, ordering food in Japan is different than it is anywhere else on Earth. The rules and etiquette of dining there are unlike those in any other country, and that is why looking like a fool when trying to order can have serious consequences for your stomach or wallet. So here are some tips to make sure you look and act like a local instead of a tourist.
First, let’s take a look at how to order new Japanese restaurant singapore food in Japan with confidence.
1. Learn the Basics
This one should be obvious, but it’s not always easy to learn all of the nuances of Japanese etiquette when it comes to dining out. If you’re new to Japanese restaurants, then this might seem like overkill, but if you want to avoid problems, it’s important to get acquainted with basic concepts as they relate to ordering.
For example, you will see many Japanese menus that list items under “Japanese Cuisine.” These terms may mean nothing to you, so you’ll need to learn what each of them refers to before you decide which ones you want to eat. Another thing to remember is that in Japanese, the word for “menu” (料理) is spelled differently than the English word (restaurant), and that makes it difficult to figure out which items are available without a Japanese speaker pointing out the differences to you.
2. Ask Questions Before You Order Anything
If you are going to order anything on a Japanese menu, then you need to know exactly what you’re getting. For starters, you will need to find out what kind of dish that item is called, and you will also need to ask what each ingredient does in the dish.
When you place your order, you will say things like “I’d like…” or “Give me a portion of….” Asking questions about the item you want to order will help you avoid confusion, and it’ll also ensure that you aren’t paying for something you didn’t really want.
3. Don’t Expect Everything on Your Menu to Be Available
Don’t expect every single item that you see on your menu to be available. Even though it may appear that almost every item on the list has been translated into Japanese, there are still some items that may never appear on a menu.
You could end up paying extra money for something that was supposed to be included in your meal, and you definitely don’t want to waste your time walking around a restaurant waiting for something you’ve ordered to show up just because it wasn’t listed on the menu.
Even worse, you could end up with something that tastes good, but isn’t actually edible. There are many cases where a restaurant will put a delicious-looking item on its menu, but they won’t offer it unless the customer specifically asks for it. This is why it is extremely important to ask questions while you are in a restaurant—especially before you start eating.
4. Take Your Time When Ordering
There is no need to rush through your food orders when you go to a Japanese restaurant. Most places serve their meals in small portions, and you shouldn’t feel rushed to finish what you ordered. There is no reason to worry about wasting your time or food when you are out to enjoy yourself.
In fact, taking a little bit of time to order your food will pay off greatly in the end. Many people who rush through their orders end up missing out on great dishes and ingredients that would otherwise have been included in their meal.
5. Use Hand Gestures To Show How Much Of Each Item You Want
It’s very common for restaurants to provide customers with small bowls to use to indicate how much of a certain item they want to eat. In most cases, you need only point at the bowl when you are ready to order something.
However, it is also possible to use gestures to show how much of each item you want. This type of communication is especially useful if you are ordering multiple items. For example, if you wanted to buy two pieces of sushi, you would hold up two fingers to show your waiter that you wanted a total of four pieces.
If you’re having trouble remembering whether you’ve already used your hand gestures, then you can write down how many pieces of each item you want on a piece of paper. Holding up the paper will tell your server exactly what you want to order, and you can easily refer back to it later if you forget what you had previously requested.
6. Avoid Using Too Many Words To Describe What You Want
People who are used to eating Japanese food often confuse the language barrier with a lack of knowledge or skill when it comes to ordering. However, the truth is that Japanese people may not be able to comprehend your English, but they will understand what you are asking for.
Instead of saying “I’d like to order…” try using simpler words like “I’m hungry.” Or, if you want to order something specific, you could say “I’d like to order the green tea.” This is far more efficient than telling the waiter what you want to eat and hoping he understands enough English to make it happen.
7. Speak Slowly And Clearly
Speaking slowly and clearly is also a good habit to develop when you are out to dinner with friends. Speaking slowly and clearly will also allow you to better hear the responses from your wait staff. This will help you figure out if they understood you correctly, and if not, you can clarify your order again.