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Reading menus in Japanese

#1
Hi guys,

Since I'll be traveling to Japan in December, I thought it might help to add some common menu terms to my anki.

I remember when I travelled to Japan in 2014 menus were really hard for me. And it was embarrassing and frustrating for me. I just fumbled thru them and wound up pointing to the plastic food samples places had in their store fronts.

I think if I add a few dozen words / terms that frequently appear on menus (but which don't appear in beginner textbooks), it might help me enjoy my upcoming trip more.

Any advice would be much appreciated!
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#2
Menus are just plain hard unless you've specifically studied common food items. What worked for me was finding restaurants I wanted to visit on GuruNavi (iPhone/Android app), and looking up the items on their menus beforehand. You can do this and start adding items to your Anki for study.
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#3
This list of foods might be a good starting point: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Japanese_dishes
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#4
(2017-08-01, 3:41 pm)Zarxrax Wrote: This list of foods might be a good starting point: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Japanese_dishes

Perfect!
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#5
How about "sukiyaki" and "teriyaki"? lol.
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#6
How about some useful phrases for ordering in Japanese restaurants?

https://www.rocketlanguages.com/japanese...restaurant
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#7
(2017-08-01, 2:09 pm)gaiaslastlaugh Wrote: Menus are just plain hard unless you've specifically studied common food items. What worked for me was finding restaurants I wanted to visit on GuruNavi (iPhone/Android app), and looking up the items on their menus beforehand. You can do this and start adding items to your Anki for study.

If you can't prepare, google translate works pretty good in real time using the camera
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#8
Related question:  if you want to eat with a fork, do the restaurants in Japan happily provide one?  I CANNOT eat with chopsticks no matter what!
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#9
(2017-08-01, 9:44 pm)phil321 Wrote: Related question:  if you want to eat with a fork, do the restaurants in Japan happily provide one?  I CANNOT eat with chopsticks no matter what!

Most will assume you can't because you're not Asian and will give you a fork automatically.

In ファミレス there are boxes on the tables with both chopsticks and regular silverware, as their fare is generally a mix of Western(-ish) and Japanese food.
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#10
One thing I noticed that seemed to be unique to menus (at least in my limited experience) is an odd use of kanji for numbers.
350円 written in kanji normally would be 三百五十円, but you may see it on a menu as 三五◯円, using the Arabic numeral zero.
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#11
Maybe read a manga about food beforehand? I enjoyed Kuuneru Maruta.
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#12
My problem at Japanese restaurants is sometimes, if the place is not a chain, it will be hand-written Japanese. The bane of my existence.
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#13
If you know of a chain restaurant that you'd like to visit you can go to their website and look at the menu before hand. That's helped me out many times.

e.g., http://www.sukiya.jp/menu/in/gyudon/
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#14
(2017-08-07, 10:05 am)bizarrojosh Wrote: If you know of a chain restaurant that you'd like to visit you can go to their website and look at the menu before hand. That's helped me out many times.

e.g., http://www.sukiya.jp/menu/in/gyudon/

Thank you! This is actually the most useful reply so far. An example is 豚丼. I saw that, looked it up (didn't know the kanji even), and was like "Yeah, that's an easy and useful one for me to learn. I'll add it to anki."

Do you know of any other online menus of popular chains?

I'm not looking to somehow magically be able to read all menus when I arrive. But I do think that adding a few dozen popular items to anki, which I don't already know, will probably make reading menus easier when I arrive in December.
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#15
http://www.dennys.jp/ -- Denny's is a 'family restaurant' which means their menu has a bit of everything, so might be easier to scan for vocab than more specialist chains that only do tempura or whatever.

http://www.watamifoodservice.jp/watami/sp/menu/ -- Watami, which is an izakaya, so the menu style and food selection is different. May be helpful if you want to find your way around a drinks menu (though those are usually fairly heavy on the katakana).

(Disclaimer: picked for their language learning utility, not necessarily as restaurant recommendations :-))
Edited: 2017-08-07, 3:56 pm
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#16
(2017-08-07, 12:20 pm)ariariari Wrote:
(2017-08-07, 10:05 am)bizarrojosh Wrote: If you know of a chain restaurant that you'd like to visit you can go to their website and look at the menu before hand. That's helped me out many times.

e.g., http://www.sukiya.jp/menu/in/gyudon/

Thank you! This is actually the most useful reply so far. An example is 豚丼. I saw that, looked it up (didn't know the kanji even), and was like "Yeah, that's an easy and useful one for me to learn. I'll add it to anki."

Do you know of any other online menus of popular chains?

I'm not looking to somehow magically be able to read all menus when I arrive. But I do think that adding a few dozen popular items to anki, which I don't already know, will probably make reading menus easier when I arrive in December.

Most populair chains have an online menu. For example:
https://www.hotpepper.jp/strJ001038602/food/   <-this chain is one of my personally favorites the チーズポテ明太子 is just frikking heaven haha. potato fries, cheese and mentaiko. This is not there whole menu online btw. they have really a lot! Personally have been to the ones in Tokyo and Kyoto. Not to bad and to great either. Just normal food and cheap! 3000 yen for 食べ飲み放題 if you start at 6pm.
http://www.gyukaku.ne.jp/menu/tabehodai.html <--- Good 焼き肉、they have a dish calledチーズフォンヂュdeチキンバジル you get some cheese with basil in a tin foil bowl put it on the grill and melt the cheese, you also grill your chicken, dip it in the melted cheese and dig in! haha Tongue cheesy goodness.
http://www.monteroza.co.jp/new/menu/815/index.html
http://www.sankofoods.com/shop/kinjr/menu/
These are just some! :Smile Enjoy, sorry for my food fanboy raving haha.

(2017-08-05, 11:53 am)TheVinster Wrote: My problem at Japanese restaurants is sometimes, if the place is not a chain, it will be hand-written Japanese. The bane of my existence.

This is really a pain yea! I like those places though,,, double edged sword haha. Another hard experience I had was at a Italian restaurant in Tokyo. Whole the menu was in katakana! Even worse worse is that they took the Italian words and pronunciation and changed that into katakana! I could understand nothing besides the basic Italian dishes haha.

(2017-08-01, 10:04 pm)gaiaslastlaugh Wrote:
(2017-08-01, 9:44 pm)phil321 Wrote: Related question:  if you want to eat with a fork, do the restaurants in Japan happily provide one?  I CANNOT eat with chopsticks no matter what!

Most will assume you can't because you're not Asian and will give you a fork automatically.

In ファミレス there are boxes on the tables with both chopsticks and regular silverware, as their fare is generally a mix of Western(-ish) and Japanese food.

Is this really a thing? Never had that experience and I went to many restaurants/izakayas/cafes! and I do not look Asian or anything :X Always have gotten chopsticks without asking. Most places probably have a fork yeah if you ask for it.
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#17
(2017-08-07, 2:56 pm)loonytik Wrote:
(2017-08-01, 10:04 pm)gaiaslastlaugh Wrote: Most will assume you can't because you're not Asian and will give you a fork automatically.

In ファミレス there are boxes on the tables with both chopsticks and regular silverware, as their fare is generally a mix of Western(-ish) and Japanese food.

Is this really a thing? Never had that experience and I went to many restaurants/izakayas/cafes! and I do not look Asian or anything :X Always have gotten chopsticks without asking. Most places probably have a fork yeah if you ask for it.

Can't speak for everyone, but in my 3 years here, I have never been given a fork at a restaurant that wasn't Italian/Western. I would be surprised if most Japanese style restaurants had forks for customers to use.
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#18
There's so many. I would just do some googling for Japanese chain food and also the types of food that you like and restaurants will pop up. Also, once you've made your lodging arrangements you'll have a better sense of where you need to start looking for food and you'll probably find tons of places near you that look interesting.
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#19
(2017-08-07, 6:41 pm)kusogaijin Wrote:
(2017-08-07, 2:56 pm)loonytik Wrote:
(2017-08-01, 10:04 pm)gaiaslastlaugh Wrote: Most will assume you can't because you're not Asian and will give you a fork automatically.

In ファミレス there are boxes on the tables with both chopsticks and regular silverware, as their fare is generally a mix of Western(-ish) and Japanese food.

Is this really a thing? Never had that experience and I went to many restaurants/izakayas/cafes! and I do not look Asian or anything :X Always have gotten chopsticks without asking. Most places probably have a fork yeah if you ask for it.

Can't speak for everyone, but in my 3 years here, I have never been given a fork at a restaurant that wasn't Italian/Western. I would be surprised if most Japanese style restaurants had forks for customers to use.

I over-spoke here, and apologize and rescind. I'll just say I've seen it happen; I don't have any experience to justify that it's widespread.
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