uNIT 9 – Food (1): wants

Key phrases
nani                                          what
tabetai desu                            want to eat
nani ga tabetai desu ka?      what do you want to eat?
sushi ga tabetai desu            I want to eat sushi
nan demo ı‾ desu                 anything is fine

final ‘n’ sound
When a final ‘n’comes before a ‘b’‘m’ or ‘p’, it is pronounced more like an ‘m’– that’s why it’s tempura, not tenpura.

Listening and speaking
Konnichiwa. Sumisu-san wa nani ga tabetai desu ka?
                                                  Hello. What do you want to eat, Mr Smith?
Sushi ga tabetai desu.           I want to eat sushi.
Konnichiwa. Teira‾ -san wa nani ga tabetai desu ka?
                                                  Hello. What do you want to eat, Mrs Taylor?
Ra‾men ga tabetai desu. Tanaka-san wa?
                                                   I want to eat ramen noodles. And you, Mr Tanaka?
Udon ga tabetai desu.           I want to eat udon noodles.
Buraun-san wa nani ga tabetai desu ka?
                                                   Mr Brown, what do you want to eat?
Nan demo ı‾ desu.                 Anything is fine.

Conversation 1
Konnichiwa, Sumisu-san.     Hello, Mr Smith.
Konnichiwa, Yamada-san.    Hello, Mrs Yamada.
Sumisu-san wa nani ga tabetai desu ka?
                                                    What do you want to eat, Mr Smith?
Tempura ga tabetai desu.      I want to eat tempura.
So‾ desu ka. Watashi mo desu.
                                                    Is that right? Me, too.
So‾ desu ka.                             Is that right?

watashi mo desu
watashi means “I” or “me” and mo means “too” or “also”, so watashi mo desu means “me, too”

Conversation 2
Sumimasen.                              Excuse me.
Hai.                                             Yes.
Watashi wa sushi ga tabetai desu.
                                                     I want to eat sushi.
Sushi-ya wa doko desu ka?
                                                    Where is a sushi restaurant?
E‾to… Sushi-ya wa asoko desu.
                                                     Let me see… a sushi restaurant is over there.
Sumimasen. Namae o kaite kudasai.
                                                     Excuse me. Please write down the name.
Hai.                                             Yes (certainly).
Arigato‾gozaimasu.                Thank you.

-ya means “shop” or “restaurant”, so a sushi-ya is a “sushi restaurant”, a tempura-ya is a“tempura restaurant” and a ra–men-ya is a ramen noodle bar.


Osusume wa nan desu ka?
If you don’t know what to order from the menu, you can always ask the waiter or waitress what they would recommend.
Osusume wa nan desu ka? What is your recommendation?
Or you can ask for:
something light, a snack: karui mono
something sweet: amai mono
something hot or spicy: karai mono


kaite kudasai
It’s very useful to ask someone to write down the names of places you’re going to in Japanese script. You can then show this to taxi drivers or anyone else you might need to ask for help. Kaite kudasai means “please write” and namae o kaite kudasai means “please write down the name”.

Famiresu – a family restaurant
It is always advisable to go to a specific place if you know what you want to eat (for example, a sushi-ya for sushi, a ra–men-ya for ramen noodles). However, if you’re not sure what you want or if everybody in your group wants something different, a famiresu might be a good idea. Famiresu serve a wide range of foods from traditional Japanese dishes to Western dishes, from snacks to desserts. Some famiresu are even open 24 hours.

sushi – sticky vinegared rice, topped with fish, meat or vegetables. It can also be wrapped in seaweed or stuffed into a pocket of fried tofu.
sashimi – sliced raw fish which is often the first course in a formal Japanese meal.
tempura – seafood and vegetables deep fried in a very light batter.Although very popular in Japan, it is originally from Portugal.
yakitori – grilled chicken skewers. They are often served as a snack to eat while drinking alcohol.
takoyaki – fried octopus dumplings. They are a popular street-side snack and stalls selling them usually display a picture of an octopus.
okonomiyaki – Japanese style pancake/pizza. Okonomi means “what you like” and yaki means “grill” or “cook”, so you can literally “cook what you like”.
ra–men – thin, yellow noodles, usually served in a meat-based broth.
udon – thick, white noodles.
soba – thin, brown noodles.
wagashi – Japanese sweets, usually made from rice paste, bean paste and fruit.
yakiniku – Japanese-style barbeque, something that many foreign visitors really enjoy when they visit Japan.