Ordering Food at an Izakaya: Etiquette and Strategies

Visiting an izakaya, a type of informal Japanese pub, is a unique and enjoyable experience. These establishments are known for their relaxed atmosphere, delicious food, and wide variety of drinks. However, if you’re unfamiliar with the etiquette and strategies for ordering food at an izakaya, it can be a bit daunting. This article will guide you through the process, ensuring you have a pleasant and authentic izakaya experience.

Understanding Izakaya Culture

Izakayas are often compared to tapas bars in Spain or gastropubs in the UK. They are casual places where people go to unwind after work, enjoy small plates of food, and drink alcohol. The food at an izakaya is designed to complement the drinks, and dishes are typically shared among the table.

Ordering Etiquette

When you first sit down at an izakaya, you’ll usually be served an “otoshi” or table charge, which is a small appetizer. This is a customary practice in Japan and the cost is added to your bill. After that, you’re free to order from the menu. It’s common to order a few dishes at a time, share them with your group, and then order more as you go. This allows you to try a variety of dishes and enjoy them while they’re hot.

What to Order

Izakayas offer a wide range of dishes, from sashimi and yakitori (grilled chicken skewers) to various types of salads and stews. If you’re unsure what to order, don’t hesitate to ask the staff for recommendations. They can guide you to the specialties of the house or popular items.

Drinking Etiquette

Drinking is a big part of the izakaya experience. It’s customary to order a drink as soon as you sit down. In Japan, it’s considered polite to pour drinks for others, so if you see a friend’s glass is empty, feel free to fill it up. Just remember to pace yourself and drink responsibly.

Paying the Bill

When it’s time to leave, simply ask for the check. In most izakayas, you pay at the counter on your way out. It’s important to note that tipping is not customary in Japan, so there’s no need to leave extra money on the table.

In conclusion, ordering food at an izakaya is a fun and social experience. By understanding the etiquette and strategies involved, you can fully enjoy the atmosphere and cuisine of these unique Japanese pubs.