5 Essential Words to Help Your Order Food and Drinks in Japan

  • Ordering food can be a pain if you don’t speak the local lingo. Sure, you can point and click, but in the end you just may find yourself with something undesirable on your plate. Worse yet, be whisked away to the ER due to an emergency allergic reaction. These 5 words and phrases will help you navigate the wondrous world of food ordering in Japan.

    Nuki (抜き)

    This is the phrase you use if you want something removed from your food. For example, if you love sushi, but can’t handle the heat of wasabi – “wasabi nuki” will help you out. Similarly, if you hate onions, but the burger on the menu is stuffed to the brim with them, just politely say onion nuki when you order, and you will be all set. I have a hot date tonight, steak, garlic sauce -nuki! (Pronounced as nooh-kee)

    Omori De (大盛りで)

    This is what you say when you want an extra heaping of something, be it rice or pasta, or shredded cabbage. By saying “omori de”, you are stating you want extra of whatever you are munching on. Some places may charge extra, but it is usually not much. On average, omori rice will only set you back about 50 to 100 Yen. Same goes for pasta, unless you are dining at the Ritz. Rice, omori de! Nom, nom, nom.

    Sukuname de (少なめで)


    This is the opposite of “omori”. Say you love onions, but are on a date. You just want a taste, but not one that will overwhelm your lover during an embrace. Or maybe you love mayonnaise but are counting calories this month. This phrase gets you what you want, but just a little less of it. Try it out, and enjoy the best of both worlds. Onions, “skuname-de” for all!

    Arerugii Arimasu (アレルギーあります)

    An essential phrase for the health conscious, allergy prone traveller. It is sad but true, that some restaurants in Japan don’t understand the concept of picky eating, or that vegetarians don’t eat bacon. Meat is meat. Bacon, apparently,- not. If you really hate something to the point of choosing to starve rather than eat it, or actually have an allergy, use this phrase to avoid problems. The staff may overlook and ignore picky eaters, but never allergies. No one wants a nasty lawsuit on their hands! Especially if the person who ate the offending dish has a rash and blisters all over their hands. Bad juju all around. I hate squids like I hate income taxes, squid arerugii arimasu!

    Koime De (濃いめで)


    My personal favourite of all the phrases. This one, you use for booze. Say you order a cocktail at a bar, and it is weak like it came out of a late night frat party. Where they ran out of booze 2 hours in. And are making it up with watered down vodka and food colouring. Avoid this, by adding a punch to your poison. By saying — koime de, you can double the strength of your drink, usually at no extra cost. Highball, koime de!

    The last one is how I get through the week. Koime. After a week in the trenches, who wants a weak drink? You need a stiff one! To know you out, sleep through Sunday, and show up all energetic and such for work on Monday. Or, just hungover as always!

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