15 Tips you Should Know about JAPANESE RESTAURANTS Part. 2
If you haven’t checked the 1st part yet, please read 15 Tips you Should Know about JAPANESE RESTAURANTS Part. 1 first, and come back to this article.
9. We have “Otoushi”, which is particular to Japanese culture.
In Japanese izakayas and bars, there is a charge named “Otoushi”. When you sit at a table and order a drink, a small vegetable or seafood appetizer will be served at the same time with your drink. You may be surprised because you didn’t order it, but this is what “Otoushi” is.
Solution 1: Take it as a table charge
When you go to bars in your country, some of them charge you a table charge or service fee, right? Otoushi is a Japanese table charge. It is a small appetizer and usually costs 200 to 600 yen, which is 2 to 6USD, so it’s much more reasonable than a table charge. The content of otoushi varies depending on the house and the day. So why don’t you enjoy each izakaya’s original one?
Solution 2: You might be able to refuse it
I have never done it, but if you say “I don’t want otoushi”, then they won’t serve and charge you otoushi fee. In that case, you can simply say “No otoushi please.” If you have a certain ingredient that you can’t eat, I recommend you to tell them before they serve it to you.
10. Your check will be left on the table while you are eating
This is the biggest surprise for people from other countries. In Japan, when food servers have served all the dishes you ordered, they ask you “Anything else?” and you say “No”, then they put your check on the table. Every time you have an additional order, the number of check will increase. People who don’t know this culture wonder and misunderstand “We are still eating but they put the check already. They want us to leave?” but that’s totally wrong.
Solution: This is Japanese culture
The reason they do this is probably so that you don’t have to call them when you want to pay. For the restaurant, additional order is always welcomed. So when it happens, please take it positively as a unique experience.
11. You have to call a food server each time vol. 2
I used to work as a waitress at a casino hotel in Nevada, the United States. What I have learned there is, when my guests have 2 to 3 bites of their main dishes, I’m supposed to go to their table and ask “Is everything OK?” to check the taste and if they have got everything. Also, asking them “Would you like another drink?” before their glasses become empty is one of the conditions of being a good food server. However in Japan, we don’t have that culture.
Solution: call out “Sumimasen!”
When you want to order more, when you want to see a menu, when you haven’t got your dish yet, or anytime, you can call out “Sumimasen!” If you want to know their recommendations, ask them “Osusumewa?” “O SU SU ME WA?” To enjoy Japanese restaurant as much as possible, you should make the first step. That’s what I usually do when I go to a restaurant in Japan.
12. Your friend is still eating, but they will take away your empty plate
This is also one of the most shocking things for people from other countries. In Western cultures, a food server won’t clear your empty plate as long as someone in your company is still eating. However in Japan, they do. Because Japanese traditional cuisine is like French, a dish comes one by one. So they clear a plate each time guests have finished. Also, Japanese tables are not big, so they take away your unnecessary plates to provide you a wider space. So, even if your friend is still eating, they will ask you “May I clear your plate?” and take your empty plate away.
Solution: This is Japanese culture
It doesn’t mean they want you to leave. This is normal for us. So, please take it like “I have more space now”. If necessary, it’s a good timing to order another drink or dessert.
13. Where to pay depends on the house
In Western countries, you usually pay at your table except for fast food, but in Japan, it all depends on the house. Some restaurants have cashiers but some don’t. I’m Japanese but even I often get confused.
Solution: Ask them
I usually ask them “Excuse me, where should I pay?” So, you can ask them as well. Hold your check and ask “Dokode?” “DO KO DE?”, which means “Where?”, then they will tell you where to pay.
14. Many restaurants don’t accept credit cards
They have begun to accept credit cards little by little, but still, we can’t use them at many restaurants especially in the countryside. Some of them set a minimum fee of usage for credit cards like “We have a 5,000 yen minimum for credit cards.” Even for a Japanese like me, I get worried if I can’t use my credit card.
Solution 1: Ask them before they take you to a table
Some restaurants have VISA or Master card stickers at the entrance, but many of them don’t, even if they accept them. So, making sure when you enter the house is best. Show them your credit card and ask “VISA OK?” or “American Express OK?” It may sound repetitive, but please speak slowly and simply.
Solution 2: Tell the truth and run to ATM
You were so ready to pay by credit card but it was cash only. What was worse, you didn’t have enough cash in your wallet. I hope it never happens but if it does, tell them the truth honestly. If you say “ATM, and come back, OK?” I’m sure they’ll say “OK”. Then, find the closest International ATM. You can withdraw with your foreign card at most of Japanese major convenience stores, Seven Eleven, Family Mart, and Lawson.
15. Tip is unnecessary
We don’t have tip culture in Japan. Not only in restaurants, but even in taxis or hotels, you don’t have to pay it. We have many delicious and reasonable restaurants. Especially for lunch, you can find tons of lunch sets including a drink or dessert within 1,000yen, which is about 10USD. And no tip. Great deal! This is a suggestion from me. Because you don’t have to pay tips, why don’t you ask them “Osusumewa?”, which means “What do you recommend?” and try their best dish or drink. You invested a lot of money and came to Japan, so I really want you to enjoy something you can’t ever have in your own country. And, if the dish or drink was amazing, please give them a thumb up and tell them “Delicious!” They are very shy, but if you like what they recommended, they would be very happy and confident.
I have interviewed more than 1,600 people who have been to Japan about Japanese restaurants’ hospitality, but most of them told me “Their service was amazing”. “It is true that they didn’t speak good English, but they made an effort and tried to speak broken English with lots of gestures. That was very impressive.” When I heard that, I was very proud of being Japanese.
This is your first time visiting Japan. You may have some difficulties because language and culture are not the same at all, but if you say “I need your help”, someone would definitely help you. We are very shy, so we are not good at making the first step, but if you come, we would be happy to support you. So please do not hesitate to ask for help, and enjoy Japan. And, please come back. I really hope you have a wonderful experience in Japan.
Thank you for watching. See you in the next video.