CONTRIBUTED BY KARA LESPERANCE
I keep reading the posts on all the great restaurants to eat at all over Okinawa, and I get very excited to try the new foods. But I keep seeing one reoccurring problem that I think may keep people from trying out a new place, the language barrier. Now, I have food allergies myself, very bad ones to shellfish, so I was a bit afraid to try out a new place at first. Then I took a language class and learned just about everything I needed to go out to eat safely. I want to pass on my knowledge in hopes that it will help someone wanting to try a new place, but afraid of ordering something they did not want.
First off, making reservations:
Yoyaku onegaishimasu – I would like to make a reservation please.
They will ask you: Nan nin desu ka? Which means how many people.
Respond with: ___________ nin desu. Insert number of people in the blank, ichi, ni, san, yon, go, etc.
They will ask you: Itsu desu ka? Which means when (what day, etc.)
Respond with: ______ gatsu (month)________nichi (day)________yobi (day of the week) pronounced with a longer o sound.
January is Ichi getsu, February is Ni getsu, March is San getsu, all the way to December being Ju-ni getsu.
The days are numbered just the same, Ichi, Ni, San, all the way to Ju-Ichi being the eleventh, Ni-Ju being the 20th, Ni-ju-ichi the 21st, and Sam-Ju being the 30th.
The days of the week (only use if you are making a reservation for the same week) are; Monday: Getsuyobi, Tuesday: Kayobi, Wednesday: Suiyobi, Thursday: Mokuyobi, Friday: Kinyobi, Saturday: Doyobi, Sunday: Nichiyobi
Okay, now that you have your reservation, you go out to eat, what to do from there? Well they will sit you down, and you look over the menu. If you don’t have one of those buttons to push when you are ready to order then just raise your hand and say: Chumon onegaishimasu. Which means I am ready to order now please.
If they come too soon and you need a minute to finish looking just say: Chotto matte kudasai. Which means please give me a moment.
So you are ready to place your order, but have a few stipulations. Here are a few phrases and words that you may need/want to help you order. These will be listed first in English and then in Nihon-go (Japanese), so that you may read them easier.
allergy:arerugi (just point to yourself, put the name of the food that you are allergic to in front of arerugi, ex: ebi kami arerugi is shrimp and crab allergy, mine.)
please give me water: mizu o kudasai
please give me cold (ice) water: ohiya o kudasai
please give me one of these (pointing to an item on the menu): Kore ichihara o kudasai
Is there_________?: _________ wa arimasuka?
hot/cold drink: atsui/tsumetai
phrase to say just before your first bite: Ittadakimasu
phrase to say as you are leaving if you enjoyed your meal: gochisosama
please bring me the check: oaiso onegaishimasu
Numbers used for food/drinks: 1-hitotsu, 2-futatsu, 3-mittsu, 4-yottsu, 5-itsutsu, 6-muttsu, 7-nanatsu, 8-yattsu, 9-kokonotsu, 10-toe (you can also just use the number like you were counting, but this is the proper way)
mullusk (clams, etc): kai
chicken: keiniku or torinku
fried (deep fried): katsu
pan fried (think the noodle or the chicken sticks): yaki
soy sauce: shooyu
low sodium: genen
tea (black): kocha
tea (green): ryokucha
coke: coke (pronounced the same)
That should pretty much get you started, and unless you are a vegan this should help you navigate the language barrier a bit. If you happen to be a vegan (there isn’t a word that fully translates into vegan), there are a few books you can buy off the internet that explain in both English and Japanese what a vegan is, just bring it with you and show the waiter as one of my friends does.
And as a side note, these are mainly for Okinawa. Some of the phrases translate straight for mainland, some are used solely here. My language teacher was Okinawan, and since we are here, I learned how they did it here.