Restaurants

WTF Is Nigiri | All The Japanese Food Terminology You Need To Know

By Chloe Sputore - 13 Dec 2017

Sakura Sake Japanese Food Terminology


Unless you got an A+ in Japanese at school, it’s likely you’ve felt out of your depth while looking at a menu at a Japanese restaurant before.

But fear not, we’ve partnered up with the legends at Sakura Sake to bring you all the Japanese food terminology you need to know to order like a pro.

Home of the one-metre sushi platter, Sakura Sake is one of the best Japanese restaurants in Perth thanks to their top-notch food, incredible sake list offering and cosy booth seating. Once you’ve significantly improved your Japanese, you’ll want to make a booking at Sakura Sake, stat!

Aburi—Ah-Boo-Ree

If you’re ready to pop your sashimi cherry, first try aburi (flame seared) sushi. 

Agedashi Dofu—Ah-Geh-Da-Shee

Not to be confused with Black Lace’s 1984 smash hit Agadoo, agedashi dofu (and yes, it’s dofu, not tofu) is lightly deep fried tofu and does not involve pushing pineapples or shaking trees.

Bento—Ben-Toe

If you don’t know that bento is a boxed meal it’s possible you’ve been living under a rock for the past 20 years, but we’ll forgive you so long as you order one stat.

Bento

Chashu—Cha-Shoe

Chashu is one of our favourite accompaniments to ramen. It’s braised pork, go figure.

Daikon—Die-Con

If you see pickled daikon on the menu order it because it’s pickled white radish and it’s delicious.

Donburi—Don-Booh-Ree

Most commonly served with beef, chicken and fish, donburi means rice bowl.

Gyoza—Gy-Oh-Zuh

Pan-fried dumplings anyone?

Ebi—Eh-Bee

Ever heard the phrase, “throw another ebi on the barbie, mate”? Didn’t think so. But it’s our way of telling you ebi means prawn in Japanese.

Edamame—Ed-Ah-Mah-May

Green soybeans traditionally served in their pods—hands up who discovered how to eat these the hard way by biting into the entire pod? How embarrassment!

Hashi—Hah-Shee

Next time you go to a Japanese restaurant, ask the waiter for some hashi and they’ll be mega impressed with your Japanese know how—before they find out you’re rubbish at using chopsticks.

Ika—Ee-Kah

Ika. Kinda sounds like ink. Which will make it much easier for you to remember that it’s squid.

Ikura—Ee-Coo-Rah

If you’re not a fan of caviar you’d best steer clear of this one, it’s salmon roe.

Izakaya—Iz-Ah-Kai-Ya

Izakaya is not only a fun word to say, it’s also a fun place to hang out in because it’s a Japanese pub. Pass the sake!

Kaitenzushi—Kai-Ten-Zoo-Shee

The Japanese name for sushi train. Sounds a lot more civilised, eh?!

Kakiage—Cah-Key-Ah-Geh

Vegetarians take note, kakiage is what you want to be ordering—it’s vegetable tempura!

Kakigori—Kha-Kee-Goh-Ree

Dessert and sushi don’t always go hand in hand, unless it’s the shaved ice goodness that is kakigori.  

Karaage—Car-Ah-Jeh

Karaage might as well translate to delicious because it means battered and deep fried.

Katsudon—Cat-Soo-Don

Hands up if you know a basic bitch. This is probably the most basic meal you can order at a Japanese restaurant, but we’ll forgive you because it’s delish. Katsudon is rice topped with a deep fried cutlet and we quite fancy the chicken kind.

Matcha—Mah-Cha

Sah healthy and sah green, we’re massive fans of matcha—for those of you who aren’t familiar with matcha it is finely ground green tea leaves.

Mazui—Mah-Zoo-Ee

Mazui is a word you don’t want to ever have to use when it comes to Japanese cuisine as it means unpleasant tasting.

Miso—Mee-So

Most are familiar with miso as a delicious precursory soup to lunch or dinner. In case you want to get technical (which we do), it is fermented soybean paste.

Mochi—Moh-Chi

Mochi, aka glutinous rice cake, should be one of the seven wonders of the world it’s that tasty.

Nabe—Nah-Beh

Who doesn’t love a hot pot? The beef nabe from Sakura Sake is particularly scrumptious.

Nigiri—Nih-Gih-Ree

Nigiri is pretty much the same as aburi sushi, except the fish is kept raw, offering a different flavour and texture.

Nori—Nore-Ee

Nori = dried seaweed. You probably already knew that.

Ocha—Oh-Cha

If you’re the designated driver you’re going to want to sub out the sake for some ocha (tea).

Oishii—Oi-Shee

Next time you have a really good Japanese meal, thank the chef and tell them your meal was oishii, aka delicious.

Okonomiyaki—Oh-Kon-Oh-Mee-Yah-Key

A pancake of the savoury kind, okonomiyaki means grilled as you like it. And we like it. A lot!

Omakase—Oh-Mah-Cah-Seh

When you can’t be bothered with ordering, opt for the omakase (chef’s selection).

Onigiri—Oh-Nee-Ghi-Ree

Sticky rice wrapped in nori (see above). It’s simple and delish.

Panko—Pan-Koh

Lighter, airier breadcrumbs.

Ramen—Rah-Men

Ramen is the noodle soup of life.

Sake—Sah-Keh

No it’s not pronounced “sayk” you uncultured swine. This Japanese rice wine is traditionally poured into a shot glass until it overflows into a larger square wooden box to signal the wealth and generosity of the restaurant.

Sashimi—Sah-Shee-Mee

Sliced raw fish. Dip it in some soy sauce and you’re set.

Sencha—Sen-Cha

Also known as green tea made from leaves, sencha sounds better though.

Setto—Set-Oh

If you want your meal with a drink and a side you better make it a setto (set meal).

Shio—Shee-Oh

Salt. And the most traditional way that ramen soup is served.

Shochu—Sho-Choo

A distilled beverage you will enjoy very much.

Shoyu—Sho-You

The more exciting way to say soy sauce. 

Soba—Soe-Bah

Buckwheat noodles, aka the healthy way to enjoy noods.

Sushi—Sue-Shee

Vinegared rice served with meat, vegetables, seafood or egg. Sushi sounds better though.

Tako—Tah-Koh

Octopus! It’s pronounced the same way as taco just to make things confusing.

Takoyaki—Tah-Koh-Yah-Kee

Battered and fried balls of octopus. Once you pop you can’t stop, you’ve been warned.

Tamago—Tah-Mah-Goh

Egg, or a good name for a Tamagotchi.

Tataki—Tah-Tah-Kee

Lightly seared meat.

Tempura—Temp-Ooh-Rah

Basically anything that is battered and deep fried.

Teppanyaki—The-Pan-Yah-Kee

A style of cooking whereby your food is cooked on an iron griddle, quite often right before your eyes.

Tofu—Toe-Foo

Soybean curd.

Tonkotsu—Tong-Cot-Zoo

We might be about to burst a few bubbles because your favourite ramen broth, tonkotsu, means big bones. But don’t let that turn you off, it’s tasty AF.

Udon—Ooh-Don

The less healthy variety of noods. These bad boys are made from wheat and they’re super satisfying to slurp up.

Unagi—Ooh-Nah-Ghee

Eel. Cue Friends joke.

Uni—Ooh-Nee

Sea urchin, not and educational institute.

Wakame—Wah-Kah-Meh

The seaweed that’s often found in miso soup and ramen.

Wasabi—Wah-Sah-Beh

A spicy root vegetable, not to be confused with horseradish which is what we commonly know to be wasabi.

Yakiniku—Yah-Key-Nee-Coo

Grilled meat.

Yakitori—Yah-Kih-Toh-Ree

The above served on a skewer, ala a satay stick.

Yasai—Yah-Sigh-Ee

Vegetables.

Yuzu—Yoo-Zoo

A tasty citrus fruit with a lemon-like flavour.

Image credit: Louise Coghill

Editor's note: This article is proudly sponsored by Sakura Sake endorsed by The Urban List. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who make The Urban List possible. Click here for more information on our editorial policy.

Our best stories, direct to your inbox, helping you to out-trend your mates every weekend...

You May Also Like