Eating out is a big deal in Japan, and nowhere is this more evident than in a Japanese steakhouse. While it might not be your first thought for Japanese food, a steakhouse is a great example of the country’s spin on restaurant dining.
When traveling, it’s always helpful to pick up some tips to better understand the culture. So, here’s what you should know before going to a Japanese steakhouse, and the country in general.
How Popular is Eating Out in Japan?
Dining out is very popular in Japan. According to Statista, 71% of people surveyed had eaten out in the first 2 months of 2021. Whether it’s a noodle or ramen restaurant, a takeaway chain, or enjoying Japanese street food, it’s perfectly common (and affordable) to not eat at home.
There are a few reasons for this. First is the price. Eating out is affordable compared to grocery shopping, so a lot of Japanese people don’t see a problem with going to a restaurant. Plus, the food is generally healthy and very similar to what would be cooked at home.
But it also comes down to work schedules. Productivity is important in Japan, and a lot of people work late into the evening. They don’t want to wait until they get home to eat, so most will grab some Japanese street food on their way home.
All this works for travelers visiting the country. You’ll be spoilt for choice over where to eat, and it’s common to go to restaurants on your own.
What You Should Know About a Japanese Steakhouse
Considering all the famous types of Japanese street food, steak might not be your first thought for dining out. But it can be a great example of the country’s culinary ability. So, along with knowing Japanese for travel, here are some tips for enjoying a Japanese steak.
1. Check the menu before visiting
You should be able to find an English version of a menu online by searching something like, “menu for Tokyo Japanese steakhouse”. Do this even if you speak Japanese because it’ll help you decide what dishes you want in advance.
2. Dress properly
A Japanese steakhouse is quite a formal restaurant, so make sure you’re dressed properly. At most, it’ll be business casual, but don’t turn up in your traveling clothes! Avoid jeans, shorts, or anything that could be considered revealing.
3. Bring cash
This isn’t specific to a Japanese steakhouse but is fairly common elsewhere. Most restaurants still work on cash only, so make sure you bring enough to cover your bill.
4. Make sure you book
It’s a bit of a no-brainer to suggest this, but make sure you reserve a table in advance when eating at a Japanese steakhouse. They’re almost always busy and often require a minimum number of people per table, so booking is essential.
But you must also make sure you arrive on time (if not a bit early). Lateness is frowned upon in Japan, and if you’re more than 15 minutes late for your reservation, there’s a high chance they’ll give your table away.
Is There Tipping Culture in Japan?
Few countries are as into tipping as the US. But even if you’re from another country, it can be difficult to know what the tipping culture is while you’re traveling. Japan is a great example of why it’s worth doing some research before you visit.
For the most part, tipping is considered unnecessary in Japan. Depending on the context and restaurant, it might even be seen as rude.
Chefs and servers in Japanese restaurants are fairly well paid, and hospitality is a big part of Japanese culture in general. This means you don’t need to (and shouldn’t) leave a tip when you visit a Japanese steakhouse.
Japanese Street Food vs Japanese Steakhouse
If you decide to travel around Japan, it can be difficult knowing how best to enjoy the food. Do you go for Japanese street food or a Japanese steakhouse? Consider the following pros and cons to help you decide.
Japanese Steakhouse: Pros
- The food is fairly Western, so should be more familiar.
- The servers are more likely to speak English.
- It can be a great way to enjoy a full dining experience.
Japanese Steakhouse: Cons
- It’ll be more expensive than street food.
- The menu will be comparatively limited.
Japanese Street Food: Pros
- You’ll get to try a lot of different foods fairly easily.
- It’s not uncommon for stalls to be grouped together, giving you options.
- Street food can be inexpensive and convenient.
Japanese Street Food: Cons
- Finding the best street food vendors is very difficult.
- It’s less common that they’ll speak English.
- You risk ordering things you might not like.
Although you know what you’re getting with a Japanese steakhouse, going for street food can be a great experience. Consider using an app like Tablelog to find vendors and hidden gems. It’s vital for exploring the country’s food culture, particularly if you’re not too familiar with the language. That said, it’s worth learning some Japanese for travel.
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About the Writer
As a blogger, traveler, and food lover, I'm always on the hunt for new taste sensations. I'm excited to share my tips and tricks to help you have the most memorable travels. Come along and let's savor the journey!