New to Kanji? Here Are Some Useful Characters to Help You With Japanese Menus!

  • Japan is not an English-friendly country. Rarely do the words on menus at restaurants which are not large chains have an English translation. In that case, you may have a hard time ordering your food unless there are pictures of the food shown on the menu. Therefore, it’s helpful to learn some of the Japanese words commonly used on menus so you can recognize the food and order more easily!

    肉 (Meat)

    This kanji is pronounced “niku”, and it means meat. Therefore, if you are looking for a meat dish, you can look for this word! Alternatively, it would also be helpful for vegetarians who are avoiding meat. If you want to be more specific about the kind of meat you would like to have or would like to avoid, check for the following words which accompany the kanji 肉:

    豚 : This kanji is pronounced as buta, which means pork.

    牛 : This is gyu, meaning beef.

    鶏 : This kanji is tori, which means chicken.

    焼き (Grilled)

    焼き is pronounced as “yaki,” which means grilled. Examples include yakitori (grilled chicken) and yakiniku (grilled meat). However, yaki can be used to denote stir fry or other grilled foods, such as in the case of yakisoba or okonomiyaki.

    揚げ (Fried)

    揚げ is pronounced as “age” (ah-geh), and it denotes food that is deep fried. A popular deep-fried dish in Japan is karaage, which is deep fried chicken!

    鍋 (Hot Pot)

    This kanji stands for nabe, which is a type of Japanese hot pot dish. Nabe is a popular choice during the cold seasons.

    丼 (Rice Bowl)

    When you see this word, pronounced on its own as “don,” it refers to donburi. Donburi is a bowl of rice topped with other ingredients. It is basically just a meal served over rice!

    Memorizing those kanji words might be difficult for some, but it is a good idea to learn a few basic words listed here. It will definitely be helpful when you want to order food in Japan! No longer would you have to point at the photos or point at what others are eating!

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