Japanese Food Terms

By Gayot Editors

Don’t know your tamari from your toro? Have no fear. Whether you’re dining at a five-star hotel restaurant or a traditional ryokan, our guide to Japanese food terms will arm you with the necessary culinary lingo to negotiate any menu

You also check GAYOT’s:
 Best Japanese restaurants
– Best Sushi & Sashimi restaurants
– Saké Guide



Amaebi: sweet shrimp
Anago: sea eel
Awabi: abalone
Azuki: dried bean; azuki flour is often used for confections


Bento: meal served in a box with different compartments


Daikon (Mooli): long, white radish, usually grated or cut into strips
Dashi: soup or cooking stock made from seaweed and/or fish flakes; commonly used in miso soup
Donburi: bowl of boiled rice with different toppings like chicken, egg or beef


Ebi: shrimp
Edamame: fresh soy beans boiled in their pods and sprinkled with salt
Enoki (Enokitake): delicate mushrooms with long stems and small caps

> Check out GAYOT’s Wine of the Week.


Gohan: rice


Hamachi: yellowtail, often used for sushi or grilled
Hashi: chopsticks
Hibachi: small, open charcoal grill
Hirame: flounder


Ikura: salmon roe


Kaiseki: multicourse menu of luxury Japanese dishes reflecting the seasons with the use of seasonal foods and artistic dinnerware and presentation
Kani: crab
Kappa: cucumber
Kobe beef: cattle raised in exclusive conditions (frequent massages and a diet featuring large quantities of beer), which results in an extraordinarily tender, very expensive beef
Konbu: dried kelp; used in soup stock, for sushi and as a condiment


Maguro: tuna
Maki: rolled
Mako: shark
Mirugai: giant clam
Miso (soup): soybean paste from which a savory broth is made, usually served with cubes of tofu or strips of seaweed