What is Izakaya?
Izakaya is similar to a British pub or a Spanish bar but more like a casual restaurant to enjoy drinking and eating. There are various styles of Izakaya and most of them usually offer Japanese food. Izakaya mainly has a wide variety of Japanese home cooking dishes using vegetables, fishes, or meats. What is fun is that 1 dish is not that big so we can enjoy eating different kinds of dishes! Of course, you can order just nibbles and drinks. We would like to introduce basic information, manners, how to order dishes.
Izakaya’s seatingz charge
Otoshi is a dish that Izakaya automatically offers us at first. It is understood as a seating charge in Japan. The price of Otoshi is usually about JPY 300~500 per person. You may encounter your favorite nibbles by this Otoshi. It is very exciting to get Otoshi at each Izakaya because it really differs among them. You can refuse to get Otoshi but you need to ask staffs in the beginning as some izakaya’s Otoshi is mandatory.
Japanese dish of salted green soybeans! A classic dish for Izakaya.
Yakitori or Chicken skewers have strong yummy taste which go well with alcohols!
Japanese love to eat Karaage or Japanese fried chicken while drinking whisky with soda.
Nihonshu or Japanese sake is a national liquor in Japan. It is said that there are more than 10,000 kinds of Japanese sake.
Shochu or Japanese distilled spirit is made from rice, wheat, or sweet potatoes.
Many Japanese love to start with beers! Beer mugs are main but some Izakaya still has bottled beers.
Chuhai is an abbreviation of Shochu highball. Shochu is mixed with Soda or flavored Soda.
Ume shu or plum liquor is distilled liquor soaked with plums. The taste is sweeter than other alcohols.
You can order non alcoholic beers or cocktails too. Of course there are also soft drinks.
How to order
You can order what you want to drink and eat to staffs directly as an usual restaurant. Staffs would take an order of drinks first. Then, drinks will be served with Otoshi. At this moment, you can order foods or additional drinks. Courses are also usually available but some Izakayas require reservation in advance so please check before visiting. Recently, some Izakayas have multilingual touch panel menu that you can order using a display. No need to call a staff so it is very easy to order.
Nomihodai (All you can drink) system
Almost all of the chain Izakaya stores have Nomihodai (all you can drink). You can order alcohols and non alcohols within the designated time. It is usually about 90 min to 120 min and costs extra JPY 1,000~2,000 per person. Some drinks are not included in the Nomihodai menu so please check before you order.
Some Izakayas accept smoking and it may not be separated between smoking and non smoking areas. If you are worried about this, please check before visiting the store.
I will introduce you some Japanese customs at Izakaya. There are no strict rules so just enjoy your time!
Kanpai or cheers is the first thing we do when drinking. Make a toast with your friends or families!
Usually Izakaya offers dishes on a big plate. Japanese don’t take it individually but one person of the group takes the meals for all the guests’ plates. Mainly younger people do this for the group.
You may see touts at bustling streets. They say they can introduce delicious and cheap Izakayas. Please be careful and do not follow them. They usually do unfair overcharging. Also it is strictly prohibited to drive after drinking alcohols. Don’t drink if you’ll drive, don’t drive if you drank. Be careful and have a wonderful time!