Glossary of Japanese Food Words & Phrases
Japanese Food Glossary 日本料理
A glossary of Japanese food words and phrases. Further information on many of the listed Japanese food terms is available via accompanying links, plus information on related food products and Japanese ingredients.
Aburaage 油揚げ - tofu slices fried in sesame oil
Aemono 和え物 - cold dishes (usually vegetables, fish or chicken) mixed with a dressing
Agari あがり - term for tea in Japanese sushi restaurants
Agedashi-dofu 揚げ出し豆腐 - deep-fried tofu
Aji アジ - horse mackerel
Aji 味 - taste, flavor
Ama-ebi アマエビ- (lit. "sweet shrimp") Alaskan pink shrimp Pandalus eous
Amazake 甘酒 - sweet, low- or non-alcohol drink made from fermented rice
Amazu 甘酢 - sweet vinegar, usually used for pickling
Anago アナゴ - conger/saltwater eel
Anko あんこ - sweet bean paste made from azuki beans
Ankoh アンコウ - anglerfish, monkfish, goosefish
Asa-gohan 朝ごはん - or choshoku 朝食 - breakfast
Asari アサリ - short-necked clam, Japanese littleneck, Manila clam Ruditapes philippinarum
Ayu アユ - sweetfish, ayu Plecoglossus altivelis
Awabi アワビ - abalone
Azuki アワビ - small red bean Vigna angularis
Baagaa バーガー - burger, hamburger
Ban-gohan 晩ご飯 - or - yushoku 夕食 - dinner, supper
Basashi 馬刺し - raw horse meat
Bento 弁当 - a boxed meal of rice, pickles and small portion of, typically, fish, poached egg, sausage, beans, etc., served in restaurants, train stations or prepared as a packed lunch for school children.
Biiru ビール - beer
Buri ブリ - yellowtail, Japanese amberjack Seriola quinqueradiata
Chahan チャーハン - fried rice
Chankonabe ちゃんこ鍋 - a mixed stew traditionally eaten by sumo wrestlers
Chawanmushi 茶碗蒸し - egg custard with vegetables, ginnan and usually chicken
Chazuke 茶漬け - Japanese tea poured over boiled rice
Chikuwa 竹輪 - a tubular roll of boiled or grilled fish paste. Literally 'bamboo ring' from the method traditionally used to mold it
Chirashi-zushi ちらし寿司 - sushi topped with fish, vegetables and egg
Choko - o-choko 猪口 - sake cup
Daikon 大根 - giant white oriental radish.
Dango 団子 - dumpling, balls of mochi (pounded sticky rice) served on bamboo skewers.
Dashi 出汁 - fish and seaweed stock: a key ingredient in Japanese cuisine. Read more on dashi
Datemaki 伊達巻 - steamed fish-and-egg rolled cake
Dengaku 田楽 - miso over tofu or konnyaku; also known as misodengaku 味噌田楽
Donburi 丼 - dish of rice topped with egg and other ingredients
Ebi 海老 - prawn, shrimp
Edamame 枝豆 - green soy beans eaten as an appetizer or as a snack with beer
Ekiben 駅弁 - short for "Eki no bento" a bento lunch box bought at a station (eki) to be eaten on the train
Enokitake エノキタケ, 榎茸 - long, thin, pale mushroom , Flammulina velutipes, often used in soups. Typically grows around the enoki tree
Fugu フグ - a blowfish, pufferfish; a usually poisonous fish eaten as a delicacy in Japan. Read more on fugu
Funazushi 鮒寿司 - fermented raw fish
Furikake ふりかけ - seasoning made of dried fish or vegetables, sprinkled over boiled rice
Futomaki 太巻き - thick-rolled sushi
Gari がり - thin-sliced ginger, boiled then pickled in amazu, accompanying sushi
Genmai 玄米 - brown/unpolished rice
Ginnan 銀杏 - nuts of the gingko tree, often boiled and served as a snack; key ingredient of chawanmushi
Gobo ゴボウ - burdock (root)
Gotchisosama 御馳走様 - formal salutation at the end of a meal, "That was a sumptuous meal!"
Gunkan-maki 軍艦巻 - seafood on rice, wrapped in laver; a kind of sushi
Gyoza 餃子 - Chinese dumplings, jiaozi
Hakumai 白米 - polished, white rice
Hakusai 白菜 - Chinese cabbage, napa cabbage
Hamo 鱧 - pike conger, pike eel; loved in Kyoto and considered a mild aphrodisiac
Happoshu 発泡酒 - lit. "sparkling spirits" or low-malt beer
Harumaki 春巻き - spring roll
Hashi 箸 - chopsticks; or, usually the honorific ohashi
Hijiki ヒジキ - a variety of seaweed, usually sold dried
Hirame ヒラメ, 平目 - halibut, flounder, Paralichthys olivaceus; prized in particular for its engawa fillets (the base of the dorsal and anal fins)
Hirugohan 昼食 - or chushoku lunch
Hiyamugi 冷麦 - thin, white noodles made from wheat flour
Hiyayakko 冷奴 - cold block of tofu with grated ginger and sliced onion garnish served with drizzle of soy sauce.
Hocho 包丁 - kitchen knife
Horenso ホウレンソウ - spinach
Hoshigaki 干し柿 - dried persimmons
Hotategai ほたて貝 - or Hotate - scallops
Ichiju-sansui 一汁三菜 - traditional meal of one soup and three okazu; the epitome of simplicity in classic Japanese cuisine
Ika イカ - squid
Ikura イクラ - salmon roe (from the Russian ikra)
Inago イナゴ - locust, fried as a delicacy of rural Japan, but also found in Tokyo
Iriko 炒り子 - small dried fish, usually anchovy
Itadakimasu いただきます - the traditional pre-meal salutation, lit. "I am about to receive."
Izakaya 居酒屋 - Japanese pub serving food and drink in an informal, often lively, atmosphere. Read more on izakaya
Jagabataa じゃがバター - potato (jagaimo) boiled in its skin, halved or quartered and served with a dollop of butter .
Jagaimo ジャガイモ - potato, spud
Jubako 重箱 - tiered lacquered boxes, typically used to serve osechi ryori
Kabocha 南瓜 - pumpkin
Kabu カブ, 蕪 - Japanese turnip
Kaibashira 貝柱 - adductor muscle in a shellfish, usually scallop, dried
Kaiseki ryori 懐石料理 - Japanese haute cuisine made up of many small courses. Read more on Kaiseki ryori
Kaitenzushi 回転寿司 - a system at Japanese sushi restaurants whereby ready-made sushi is presented on a conveyor belt; lit. "revolving sushi"
Kaki カキ, 牡蛎, 牡蠣 - oyster
Kamaboko 蒲鉾 - fish cake, fish jelly, made from ground fish meat (surumi)
Kani カニ - crab
Karaage 唐揚げ - floured and then deep fried, battered; similar to tempura
Katsudon カツ丼 - bowl of rice topped with a sliced, deep-fried port cutlet
Katsuo カツオ - bonito, skipjack tuna Katsuwonus pelamis
Katsuobushi 鰹節 - dried, fermented, smoked katsuo flakes
Kazunoko 数の子 - herring roe
Kinoko キノコ - mushroom
Kissaten 喫茶店 - a coffee shop, also serving light meals
Kobe beef 神戸ビーフ - beef from the black Tajima-ushi breed of Wagyu cattle, raised using traditional methods; originally from Kobe
Kohaku kamaboko 紅白かまぼこ - red (pink) and white kamaboko
Koi コイ, 鯉 - carp
Kohko こうこ - pickled vegetables; or the honorific okoh-ko; konomono
Kombu 昆布 - kelp or sea tangle used as a basic ingredient for stock. See dashi.
Kombumaki 昆布巻き - fish, typically dried herring, rolled up in kombu and simmered in sweet and salty seasonings
Kome 米 - more commonly - o-kome - rice. Read more on Japanese rice.
Konbini コンビニ - convenience stores - open 24/7 - sell just about everything as well as offering banking and postal services. Read more on konbini
Konnyaku コンニャク - Devil's tongue/konjac plant; specifically, a brown, translucent gelatin made from its starch
Konomono 香の物 - pickled vegetables; kohko
Kosu コース - course (of a meal)
Kujira クジラ, 鯨 - whale (meat). Read more on eating whale in Japan
Kurikinton 栗きんとん - sweetened mixture of boiled mashed chestnuts, typically found in osechi ryori
Kuromame 黒豆 - cooked black beans
Kushiage 串揚げ - deep-fried and breadcrumbed food served on wooden skewers; literally "skewer fry"
Kyusu 急須 - Japanese ceramic teapot with a straight, rod-shaped, flared handle pointing out from the side. Buy Japanese kyusu teapots
Japanese soba noodles ready to boil
Mabodofu 麻婆豆腐 - spicy Chinese-style tofu and mince
Makizushi 巻きずし - sliced seaweed-rolled sushi; makimono
Mame 豆 - beans
Matsutake 松茸 - a rare mushroom prized for its aromatic flavor. Expensive!
Meshi 飯 - typically male word for "rice" or " a meal"
Mikan みかん - tangerine, satsuma orange
Mirin 味醂 - intensified, sweetened sake used in cooking
Miso 味噌 - fermented soybean paste ranging in color from yellow to brown; a staple of Japanese cuisine
Mitsuba 三つ葉 - Japanese chervil, used as a garnish
Mochi 餅 - or omochi, steamed rice pounded into a glutinous cake and used as a staple ingredient in a variety of dishes, including desserts.
Momo 桃 - peach
Mohningu モーニング - or Mohningu setto (morning set) - set breakfast served in a kissaten until about 11am, consisting of toast, coffee, boiled egg and a small salad
Moyashi モヤシ - sprout of soy or mung beans, a staple ingredient in miso shiru
Mushimono 蒸し物 - steamed dish
Nabe 鍋 - one-pot meal eaten in winter. Read more on nabe
Nama 生 - raw, also draft beer, as in nama biiru
Namasu なます - vinegared dish
Nantaimori 男体盛り - eating food, typically sushi or sashimi, off a semi- or fully-naked male; the male version of nyotaimori
Nasu なす - eggplant
Natto 納豆 - fermented soybeans, eaten with mustard and soy sauce
Negi 葱 - spring onion
Neta ネタ - the fish topping on sushi
Nigirizushi 握り寿司 - sushi consisting of rice, often a garnish, and a fish topping (neta); the most typical kind of sushi.
Nigorizake 濁り酒 - cloudy sake; doburoku
Nikujaga 肉じゃが - potato and beef stew; lit. "meat-potato"
Nimono 煮物 - simmered in a soup stock
Ninniku ニンニク - garlic
Nishikitamago 錦卵 - confectionery made from egg, featuring a white part made from the white and a yellow part made from the yolk
Nori 海苔 - laver, edible seaweed, in particular the paper-like dried product made from it
Nyotaimori 女体盛り - eating food, typically sushi or sashimi, off a semi- or fully-naked female; the female version of nantaimori
Ocha お茶 - Japanese tea
Oden おでん - vegetables, tofu and fish cake in a broth
Okanjo お勘定 - the bill.
Okazu おかず - side dish accompanying a rice dish, typically of fish, meat, vegetables or tofu.
Okonomiyaki お好み焼き - "Japanese pizza" - an egg and chopped cabbage based pancake associated with Osaka; lit. "cooked as you like it"
Omakase お任せ - leaving it up to the chef or waiter to decide on your dishes at a restaurant.
Onsentamago 温泉卵 - egg poached in its shell in natural hot spring water. (Read more on onsen hot springs in Japan.)
Oroshigane おろし金 - grater
Osechi ryori おせち料理 - meal of New Year delicacies, eaten at room temperature from jubako
Oshinko お新香 - pickled vegetables, tsukemono
Oyatsu おやつ - snack
Pan パン - bread (from the Portuguese word)
Panko パン粉 - breadcrumbs
Piiman ピーマン - pepper, capsicum
Pongashi ポン菓子 - lit. 'popped snacks' - roasted rice snacks. Read more on pongashi
Potetofurai ポテトフライ - French fries/chips; more often just called poteto
Rakkyo ラッキョウ - shallot, Chinese onion, Chinese scallion, typically pickled; Allium chinense
Ramen ラーメン - Chinese-style wheat noodles served in a bone-and-vegetable stock and flavored with soy sauce (also known as chuka soba).
Ranchi ランチ - lunch
Reba レバー - liver, typically of chicken
Renkon 蓮根 - lotus root
Reshiito レシート - cash register print-out receipt, less official than a ryoshusho
Ringo リンゴ - apple
Ryoriya 料理屋 - Japanese restaurant
Ryoshusho 領収書 - receipt that is typically more "official" than a reshiito, needed for tax deductibility
Ryotei 料亭 - exclusive Japanese inn-style restaurant, popular with politicians
Saba - mackerel
Sake - Japanese rice wine: a clear drink made from fermented rice, 14-16% alcohol by volume, served either warm or cold. Usually referred to honorifically as o-sake. Read more on sake
Sakekasu 酒粕 - sake lees, often used as a pickling agent
Sando サンド - sandwich; abbreviation of sandoicchi
Sashimi 刺身 - sliced raw fish
Satsumaimo 薩摩芋 - Japanese sweet potato
Satoimo 里芋 - taro
Senbei 煎餅 - rice cracker
Sencha 煎茶 - green tea made from dried, not powdered, tea leaves
Setto セット - set meal
Shabu-shabu しゃぶしゃぶ - a kind of nabe cuisine where thinly sliced beef and vegetables are cooked by the diner in simmering seasoned broth
Shari しゃり - the rice part of a piece of sushi; cooked, vinegared sticky white rice
Shichimi togarashi 七味唐辛子 - lit. "seven-flavored chili pepper", a seasoning that is a mixture of seven different spices
Shijimi シジミ - freshwater clam, basket clam
Shimahokke シマホッケ - AKA Kitanohokke - Atka mackerel,
Shio 塩 - salt
Shirouo シロウオ - small, transparent fish eaten alive; usually ice goby. Read more on shirouo
Shiso シソ, 紫蘇 - perilla leaf, typically served with sashimi
Shiitake 椎茸 - shiitake mushroom, Chinese black mushroom
Shochu 焼酎 - distilled, clear alcoholic beverage made from ingredients such as barley, buckwheat, sweet potatoes and sugar. Read more on shochu
Shoga 生姜 - ginger
Shojinryori 精進料理 - Buddhist vegetarian cuisine associated with Kyoto
Shokuchudoku 食中毒 - food poisoning, most sensationally associated with fugu
Shokudo 食堂 - canteen, restaurant
Shokuyoku 食欲 - appetite
Shoyu 醤油 - soy sauce. Read more on shoyu
Subuta 酢豚 - Chinese-style sweet and sour pork
Sukiyaki すき焼き - meat or tofu, with vegetables and other ingredients, simmered in an iron pot in a mixture of soy sauce, sugar and mirin.
Sumeshi 酢飯 - white rice cooked in seasonings such as vinegar, salt, and sugar; literally "vinegar rice." The stuffing for inarizushi.
Sunomono 酢の物 - vinegared dish, pickled dish
Suribachi & Surikogi すり鉢, すりこぎ - (ceramic) mortar and (wooden) pestle.
Sushi 寿司 - bite-sized servings of shari, served cold, flavored with sweet rice vinegar and grated green horseradish, or wasabi, and garnished with strips of raw or cooked fish, other seafood, cooked egg or vegetables. See also chirashizushi and makizushi. Read more on sushi
Tai 鯛 - sea bream, an auspicious, celebratory fish in Japan
Tako タコ - octopus
Takoyaki タコ焼き - octopus balls in batter - an Osaka speciality
Takenoko 筍 - bamboo shoot
Tamago 卵, 玉子 - egg
Tamanegi 玉ねぎ - onion
Tazukuri 田作 - dried sardines cooked in sugar and soy sauce
Teishoku 定食 - a set meal served in restaurants, typically comprising rice, fish or meat, pickles and miso soup
Tempura 天ぷら - fish, prawns or vegetables deep fried in a non-greasy batter
Teriyaki 照り焼き - dishes cooked with a mixture of mirin/sugar, soy sauce and sake
Tofu 豆腐 - tofu, soybean curd
Togarashi 唐辛子 - hot chili
Tonkatsu 豚カツ - pork cutlet
Toro トロ - a fatty cut of tuna used on sushi
Tsukemono 漬物 - pickled vegetables, oshinko
Tsumami つまみ - or o-tsumami - hors d'oeuvre often served with drinks
Udon うどん - wheat flour noodles, thick, white and chewy
Umeboshi 梅干し - sour, pickled plum often eaten with rice.
Unagi ウナギ - eel, promoted in Japan as imparting vigor
Uni ウニ - sea urchin
Waribashi 割りばし - disposable chopsticks. Read more on waribashi
Wasabi わさび - green horseradish, often eaten with sushi.
Yakimono 焼き物 - grilled dishes (not to be confused with Japanese pottery, also known as yakimono)
Yama-kujira 山鯨 - wild boar, inoshishi; lit. "mountain whale"
Yoshokuya 洋食屋 - western-style restaurants adapted to the Japanese taste.
Yuba ユバ - soy milk skin
Yuzu 柚子 - lemon-like citrus fruit
Zabuton 座布団 - floor cushion, 'za' meaning 'sitting' and 'buton' being futon.
Zaru ざる - bamboo basket/sieve
Zashiki 座敷 - floor-seating area in a restaurant or home