Easy & Useful Japanese Restaurant Services: Four Must-Know Short Phrases

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     Hello all, and welcome back to another impromptu Japanese lesson. Today, we’ll be expanding on our word bank for restaurants and other places of service, as that is an important place to be able to communicate clearly and effectively. We’ll also be tackling a few more specialized words and phrases that will be useful to recognize for one reason or another. 

1. Free(無料・むりょうおすすめ)

     Muryou is, in my humble opinion, one of the most useful words you can know while hopping between restaurants and karaoke bars. Muryou, of course, translates to “Free”.

     Oftentimes, it will be seen on the windows of karaoke bars accompanied by the phrase “ソフトドリンクバー”, which translates to “soft drink bar,” which fellow Americans will know as a soda fountain. In the context of karaoke, this means that soft drinks are free when you rent a room at the karaoke bar. These kanji can also lead you to other special offers; at some restaurants and izakayas, if you add a certain QR code on LINE, you become eligible for a free dessert (usually some variety of ice cream). 

"Free cold barley tea is served, please enjoy!"

     The bottom line is that if you see these kanji on a menu or sign, it’s often something worth inquiring about.

2. Discount(割引・わりびき)

     Waribiki is another one of my favorite words. It translates to “discount”. You will often see it paired with another word, such as “学生” (Gakusei / がくせい), which means student. This will tell you who is eligible for the discount. As in the states, you’ll need to provide some form of ID proving that you are indeed eligible, but especially for those running low on funds, this is another word to be on the lookout for.

"引" (biki/びき)

3. Recommendation(おすすめ)

     Osusume translates roughly to “recommended” or “recommendation.” This is a word that can be used in a few different contexts, all equally useful. However, today we’ll be examining the two most common ways this word comes in handy.

     The first is in the form of おすすめメニュー, (osusume menu), which translates to “recommended menu.” This menu is generally where you’ll find the specials at any given restaurant, as well as many of their more popular items.

     The other more common way to hear or use this word is when you are asking for recommendations. Generally, if you are at a restaurant and you want to ask a server what they recommend, you would simply ask “Osusume wa? (おすすめは?), which translates roughly to “What do you recommend?” This can be handy when you’re going to a restaurant for the first time, or just deeply indecisive.

4. Please Wait a Moment(少々お待ちください)

     Unless you are one of the workers at a restaurant, this is a phrase you are much more likely to hear than to say in one. This phrase is a very polite way of asking someone to wait a moment, and is used almost any time a member of the waitstaff leaves customers alone, save for after delivering the food.

    This will be the end of today’s vocabulary lesson. As always, I hope these words and phrases serve you well on your journeys in Japan!

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