中級日本語ー Making and Ordering Food

October 25, 2010 § Leave a comment

Making Breakfast And Lunch

How many times a day do you eat a shokuji (shoh-koo-jee; meal)? If you’re lucky, you taberu (tah-beh-roo; eat) three times a day. If you’re too busy, you may eat only once or twice.

If you’re obi .issed with food, you may eat all the time.Japanese doesn’t have one convenient adjective like “hungry.” To express hunger, you say onaka ga suita (oh-nah-kah gah soo-ee-tah) or, with the polite suffix, onaka ga sukimashita (oh-nah-kah gah soo-kee-mah-shee-tah). Onaka means “belly” or “stomach,” and suita and sukimashita mean “became empty.” You’re saying that your stomach became empty. The following are typical shokuji (shoh-koo-jee; meals) and oyatsu (oh-yah-tsoo; snacks): 

  • asagohan/choshoku (ah-sah-goh-hahn/chohh-shoh-koo; breakfast)
  • hirugohan/chushoku (hee-roo-goh-hahn/chooo-shoh-koo; lunch)
  • bangohan/yushoku (bahn-goh-hahn/yooo-shoh-koo; supper)
  • yashoku (yah-shoh-koo; midnight snack)


It’s no accident that shoku appears in several of the words related to eating. This word stem often (though not always) means “eat.”

Here’s how to conjugate the important u- verbs taberu (tah-beh-roo; to eat) and nomu (noh-moo; to drink).

Form Pronunciation
taberu tah-beh-roo
tabenai tah-beh-nah-ee
tabe tah-beh
tabete tah-beh-teh
nomu noh-moo
nomanai noh-mah-nah-ee
nomi noh-mee
nonde nohn-deh

Eating breakfast in Mo cultures

A Japanese asagohan (ah-sah-goh-hahn; breakfast) can be downright exquisite if you have the eyes (and the palate) to see it that way. Before stepping into a Japanese-style shokudO (shoh-koo-dohh; dining room) for breakfast, familiarize yourself with what they serve:

  • gohan (goh-hahn; cooked rice)
  • horenso no ohitashi (hohh-rehn-sohh noh oh-hee-tah-shee; boiled spinach seasoned with soy sauce)
  • misoshiru (mee-soh-shee-roo; soybean-paste soup)
  • nama tamago (nah-mah tah-mah-goh; raw eggs)
  • natto (naht-tohh; fermented soybeans)
  • nori (noh-ree; seaweed)
  • onsen tamago (ohn-sehn tah-mah-goh; hot-spring boiled egg/soft-boiled egg)
  • tsukemono (tsoo-keh-moh-noh; pickled vegetables)
  • yakizakana (yah-kee-zah-kah-nah; grilled/ broiled fish)

You may prefer to experiment later in the day and just enjoy a Western-style breakfast. 1 never miss out on my morning kohi (kohh-heee; coffee), and I haven’t skipped my breakfast beguru (behh-goo-roo; bagel) and kurlmu chlzu (koo-reee-moo cheee-zoo; cream cheese) for ten years. What are your favorite breakfast foods?

  • bekon (behh-kohn; bacon)
  • hamu (hah-moo; ham)
  • soseji (sohh-sehh-jee; sausage)
  • medamayaki (meh-dah-mah-yah-kee; fried egg)
  • sukuranburu eggu (soo-koo-rahn-boo-roo ehg-goo; scrambled eggs)
  • kurowassan (koo-roh-wahs-sahn; croissant)
  • tosuto (tohh-soo-toh; toast)
  • jamu (jah-moo; jam)
  • bata (bah-tahh; butter)
  • kocha (kohh-chah; black tea)
  • miruku (mee-roo-koo; milk)
  • is orenji jusu (oh-rehn-jee jooo-soo; orange juice)

Munching uour lunch

In Japan, noodles are popular lunchtime (fln meals. The thick, white noodles that you may have seen in soups are udon (oo-dohn); buckwheat noodles are soba (soh-bah). And don’t forget ramen (rahh-mehn) noodles, which the Japanese adopted from China.

Rice dishes in big bowls with different toppings are also popular for lunch. These meals are called donburi (dohn-boo-ree; big bowl).

What do you eat for lunch?

  • hanbaga (hahn-bahh-gahh; hamburger)
  • piza (pee-zah; pizza)
  • sandoicchi (sahn-doh-eet-chee; sandwich)
  • sarada (sah-rah-dah; salad)
  • supagetti (soo-pah-geht-teee; spaghetti)
  • supu (sooo-poo; soup)

1 usually use these tasty items to give my sandoicchi a little kick:

  • chizu (cheee-zoo; cheese)
  • kechappu (keh-chahp-poo; ketchup)
  • masutado (mah-soo-tahh-doh; mustard)
  • mayonezu (mah-yoh-nehh-zoo; mayonnaise)
  • pikurusu (pee-koo-roo-soo; pickle)

Ordering fast food

Whether you’re ordering piza (pee-zah; pizza) with friends or grabbing a sandoicchi (sahn-doh-eet-chee; sandwich) for lunch, you probably spend a fair amount of money enriching fast-food chains. This section tells you how to chumon suru (chooo-mohn soo-roo; order) a hanbaga (hahn-bahh-gahh; hamburger) and furaido poteto (foo-rah-ee-doh poh-teh-toh; fries) in Japanese. Check out some other popular fast-food dishes:

  • chikin baga (chee-keen bahh-gahh; chicken patty)
  • chizu baga (cheee-zoo bahh-gahh; cheeseburger)
  • furaido chikin (foo-rah-ee-doh chee-keen; fried chicken)
  • hotto doggu (hoht-toh dohg-goo; hot dog)
  • miruku sheku (mee-roo-koo shehh-koo; milkshakes)

Now that you have a handle on the menu, practice conjugating the verb chumon suru (chooo-mohn soo-roo; to order). This term is actually a combination of the noun chumon (order) and the verb suru (to do), so you conjugate just the suru part. Yes, it’s an irregular verb.

Form Pronunciation
chumon suru chooo-mohn soo-roo
chumon shinai chooo-mohn shee-nah-ee
chumon shi chooo-mohn shee
chumon shite chooo-mohn shee-teh

You may have to answer a couple of questions when you order at a fast-food joint:

  • Omochi kaeri desu ka (oh-moh-chee kah-eh-ree deh-soo kah) means “Will you take it home?” or “To go?”
  • Kochira de omeshiagari desu ka (koh-chee-rah
  • deh oh-meh-shee-ah-gah-ree deh-soo kah) means “Will you eat here?” or “For here?”

If you hear one of these questions, just answer hai (hah-ee; yes) or ie (eee-eh; no).

Making dinner reservations

The Japanese are gourmets. They often line up in front of popular restaurants, and they don’t mind waiting an hour or more. If you don’t want to wait in line, make a yoyaku (yoh-yah-koo; reservation) over the phone.

The Japanese say “to make a reservation” by saying “to do a reservation,” which is yoyaku o suru (yoh-yah-koo oh soo-roo). Remember that suru (soo-roo; to do) is an irregular verb.

Conjugate yoyaku o suru. Because yoyaku is a noun, all you have to worry about is the suru part.

Form Pronunciation
yoyaku o suru yoh-yah-koo oh soo-roo
yoyaku o shinai yoh-yah-koo oh shee-nah-ee
yoyaku o shi yoh-yah-koo oh shee
yoyaku o shite yoh-yah-koo oh shee-teh

First, tell the restaurant’s host when you want to arrive. (Chapter 3 explains the basics of how to tell time in Japanese, including the concepts of a.m., p.m., and o’clock.) Below table provides the time ranges you’re likely to need when making dinner reservations.

A Timetable
Time Japanese Pronunciation
6:00 roku-ji roh-koo-jee
6:15 roku-ji jugo-fun roh-koo-jee jooo-goh-foon
6:30 roku-ji han roh-koo-jee hahn
6:45 roku-ji yonjugo-fun roh-koo-jee yohn-jooo-goh-foon
7:00 shichi-ji shee-chee-jee
8:00 hachi-ji hah-chee-jee
9:00 ku-ji koo-jee

After you establish a time, let the host know how many people are in your party. Japanese uses a counter (a short suffix that follows a number) to count people. Which counter you use depends on the item you’re counting. For example, you can’t just say go (goh; five) when you have five people in your party. You have to say go-nin (goh-neen), because -nin (neen) is the counter for people. But watch out for the irregular hitori (hee-toh-ree; one person) and futari (foo-tah-ree; two people).

Below table can help you count people.

Expressing a Number of People
Number of People Japanese Pronunciation
1 hitori hee-toh-ree
2 futari foo-tah-ree
3 san-nin sahn-neen
4 yo-nin yoh-neen
5 go-nin goh-neen
6 roku-nin roh-koo-neen
7 nana-nin nah-nah-neen
8 hachi-nin hah-chee-neen
9 kyu-nin kyooo-neen
10 ju-nin jooo-neen

Here’s how a typical conversation about a restaurant reservation may go:

Host: Maido arigato gozaimasu. (mah-ee-doh ah-ree-gah-tohh goh-zah-ee-mah-soo; Thank you for your patronage. How can I help you?)
Makoto: Ano, konban, yoyaku o shitai-n-desu ga.(ah-nohh, kohn-bahn, yoh-yah-koo oh shee-tah-een-deh-soo gah; I would like to make a reservation for tonight.)
Host: Hai, arigato gozaimasu. Nan-ji goro. (hah-ee, ah-ree-gah-tohh goh-zah-ee-mah-soo. nahn-jee goh-roh; Yes, thank you. About what time?)
Makoto: Shichi-ji desu. (shee-chee-jee deh-soo; 7:00, please.)
Host: Hai. Nan-nin-sama. (hah-ee. nahn-neen-sah-mah; Certainly. How many people?)
Makoto: Go-nin desu. (goh-neen deh-soo; Five people.)

In Japanese, you often form a statement by using -n-desu (n-deh-soo) in conversation. The effect of -n-desu is to encourage your partner to respond. Saying Yoyaku o shitai-n-desu (yoh-yah-koo oh shee-tah-een-deh-soo; I’d like to make a reservation) sounds much more inviting and friendly than saying Yoyaku o shitai desu because it shows your willingness to listen to the other person’s comments.

Use -n-desu in informal conversation but not in writing or public speech.
When you follow a verb with -n-desu, the verb must be in the informal/plain form. Ending your statement with the particle ga (gah; but), as in Yoyaku o shitai-n-desu ga, makes it clear that you’re waiting for the other person to reply.


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