| Japanese Food Terms You should Know! | Useful Phone Numbers |

Japanese Food Terms You should Know!

O-toshi (お通し)

When you go into an izakaya or other premises that serve alcohol, you will be served a small dish even though you haven’t ordered anything. That’s an o-tōshi. It’s customary to serve this dish as a snack with the first drink, so the customer is not made to wait until the ordered food arrives. In Japan, when people drink delicious sake, they have a delicious snack at the same time. The price range is JPY300~500, and the content is an individual characteristic of the restaurant. Recently, some places have offered customers their pick of a few varieties of small dishes. In some, the customer can decline the o-tōshi. It’s fair to say that the o-tōshi is the subject of an implicit understanding between the customer and the restaurant. Japan’s “o-tōshi culture” is really worth trying. The photo shows the o-tōshi called “niku miso kyuri” (cucumbers with meat-miso paste), as served at the izakaya “Ippo-Ippo” in Kita-senju, Tokyo. Dip the cucumbers into the handmade niku-miso paste to eat. Two types of miso are blended together, then carefully mixed by hand with boiled pork leg meat. At this izakaya, customers can get extra helpings of niku-miso and cucumbers.


Japanese-style food culture that had been approved as UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage. Generally, any kinds of “Japanese-style,” not limited to food, are often referred to as “wa.” Wa (Japanese-style) + shoku (food) represents Japanese food culture.


Opposite from washoku, Japan refers “western style” as “yo.” Yoshoku represents western style food arranged into Japanese-style.


Genre of Japanese cuisine. Main washoku dish that can be enjoyed as a la carte.

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Kaiseki-ryori is a proud part of the Japanese culinary tradition using the freshest seasonal ingredients and skillful cooking techniques along with an inviting presentation.


Japanese-style pub. The secret behind the popularity of Izakaya is the energy, casual atmosphere, and diversity of menus. The dishes are usually small and affordably priced.

Kushiyaki(串焼き) /Yakitori(焼き鳥)/Kushikatsu(串カツ)

These are very popular as they provide an easy way to enjoy many different ingredients. Most kushiyaki is grilled with charcoals. You can also enjoy the combinations and seasonings unique to each restaurant.

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Tempura is made by deep-frying seafood, vegetables, and other ingredients coated with flour and egg. It has been said that the name for tempura originates either from the Spanish word for “temple” or the Portuguese word for “cooking”.


Hot pots. They are very popular in the winter. Various ingredients are placed into a big pot, boiled with a special soup, and placed at the center of the table for everyone to share. Kyoto-style boiled tofu is also a popular ingredient for hot pots and this dish is a must try for any tofu lovers.


Originally, teppanyaki refers to a way of eating food ingredients grilled on a hot iron plate. Okonomiyaki and monjayaki are common types of teppanyaki restaurants as well as exclusive restaurants that serve seasonal vegetables and brand beefs. The chef grills in front of you depending on the restaurant.

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Type of noodle made with flour. Udon is served both hot and cold in a soup based on soy sauce and bonito flakes.


Types of noodle made with buck wheat. Just like udon, soba is also served cold and hot in soup based on soy sauce and bonito flakes. Add some wasabi to the sauce or soup to spice up your noodles.


Types of noodle that originally came from China. Basic flavors of the soup are salt, soy sauce, miso, dand tonkotsu.

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Japanese-style pork cutlets


Kind of nabe flavored in soy sauce and sugar. Compared to other nabe, sukiyaki is cooked in a shallow pot. Main ingredients are sliced beef and vegetables that are eaten with raw beaten egg.


Dipping thinly sliced pork or beef in boiling water with your chop sticks, and eating with different kinds of sauce.

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Japanese-style Korean barbeque.


Okonomiyaki is a round shaped pancake made with ingredients such as flour, cabbage, eggs, seafood, meat, yam, and spring onions. Once cooked, it is topped with bonito flakes, dried seaweed, mayonnaise, okonomiyaki sauce (similar to Worcestershire sauce).


Monjayaki is flour based batter pan-fried with ingredients such as cabbage, seafood, meat, and cheese. It is flavored with Worcestershire sauce. Children ate monjayaki for snack in the 1930's-60's and they drew words and pictures using the batter.


High in protein and easily digested, unagi (eel) has become an important food in Japan. There are now many "u-nagi-ya" restaurants specializing in eel. Eating eel in the summer is very common as it has the nutrition needed to overcome the dog days of this season.

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Useful Phone Numbers

Emergency Calls (Toll free number that can be dialed from any phone)
(English: 03-3501-0110)
119 Fire/ambulance

Tourist Information
 03-3201-3331 Japan National Tourism Organization
03-5321-3077 Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building Headquarters
03-6428-0653 Haneda Airport Branch
03-3836-3471 Keisei Ueno Branch
03-5220-7055 Tourism Information Center Tokyo

03-5757-8111 Flight Information (Haneda Airport)
0476-34-8000 Flight Information (Narita Airport)
03-3816-5700 Toei Transportation (Subway)
050-2016-1603 JR-EAST (Railway)
0120-104106 Tokyo Metro (Subway)
03-5755-2336 (English) Nihon Kotsu (Taxi)

Lost and Found
03-3814-4151 The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department Lost and Found Center
03-3834-5577 Tokyo Metro (Subway)
03-3648-0300 Taxi
050-2016-1603 JR-EAST (Railway)

Hospitals & Clinics (English Services Available)
03-5550-7166 St. Luke’s International Hospital
03-6441-0969 American Clinic Tokyo
03-5458-6099 Tokyo British Clinic
03-3582-2646 International Clinic
03-3409-0764 The King Clinic
03-5413-7911 Tokyo Midtown Clinic

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| Japanese Food Terms You should Know! | Useful Phone Numbers |