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.

A

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

B

Bento: meal served in a box with different compartments

D

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

E

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

G

Gohan: rice

H

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

I

Ikura: salmon roe

K

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

M

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

O

Ono: wahoo fish; a relative of the mackerel often compared in taste to albacore

R

Ramen: Chinese soup noodles