In Japanese, delicious is oishii. And yes, while there are lots of beautiful and delicious foods in Japan, the reason I want to teach you this word is cultural. The Japanese take great pride in their high quality, fresh ingredients and its delicate arrangement. They also comment on food non-stop while eating. If you stay in a family-owned ryokan (Japanese style inn) or eat in a small mom and pop restaurant, they will think you don’t enjoy the food if you don’t comment on it.
No matter what language you speak, talking about cuisine requires a lot of specific vocabulary. And Japanese is no different. That said, I think we can cover a few basic food words you can use throughout your trip. Also, I’ll teach you a few related phrases you can use in other situations.
Ready? Great. Let’s get into it!
Table of contents
Complimenting Food in Japanese
Oishii desu – it’s delicious
The Japanese take cuisines very seriously. And if something tastes good, they don’t hold back the compliments. If you’re enjoying the food, especially a home cooked meal at a traditional Japanese inn, definitely say oishii desu to the wait staff and chef. They’ll really appreciate the compliment.
Pro-Tip: The final u is barely perceptible to the ear, so if you pronounce it oishii des’ it sounds more natural.
Kirei desu – it’s lovely
In Japan, food presentation is extremely important. So all of your food will look amazing. Praise the staff for serving lovely food and you’ll endear yourself for sure.
Compliment the chef in Japanese with these easy phrases!Tweet
Pro-Tip: The final u is barely perceptible to the ear, so if you pronounce it kirei des’ it sounds more natural.
Suteki desu – it’s fabulous
Suteki desu is best used to describe classy things. An elegant dinner. A luxurious kimono. Beautiful hair, nails, and makeup. If you see a stunning geiko (a Kyoto geisha) like the one above, you can use suteki to describe her hair, her makeup, or her kimono. Even her style is suteki.
Men can use this word, just like “fabulous.” But overusing it sounds a bit effeminate.
Pro-Tip: The u in suteki and desu is very light. So it sounds more natural if you say steki des’.
Iki ja nō – it’s cool (old samurai expression)
iki ja nō
|It’s refined and sophisticated|
Iki means cool, but it refers to the style popularized in Edo (modern Tokyo) during the samurai period. Today it means traditional and cool. It has a masculine connotation.
This tour guide is teaching people how to say “that’s cool” in 18th century Japanese. WTF?Tweet
Pro-Tip: Stretch out the final o to sound like a feudal lord talking to himself. I mean, if you’re gonna bust out a cool phrase like this, you have to play the part.
Kawaii desu – it’s cute (“Japanese cute”)
You can use this when shopping and you see cute local goods. If you’re an animal lover and you spot someone with a cute pet. This is perfect for that too.
Pro-Tip: Drop the des’ and stretch out the final ii to sound like a really excited high school girl. Kawai——i.
Kyūto desu – it’s cute (“western cute”)
Kyūto is the Japanese pronunciation of the English word “cute.”
In a future article, I’ll discuss the difference between “cute” and “kawaii.” Subscribe to JapanThis.Tours down below to get the update!
Pro-Tip: The o in kyūto and the u is desu are very weak. Try pronouncing it like kyūt’ des’.
TAKE AWAY: The One Word You Must Remember!
How do you say delicious in Japanese? Oishii desu means “it’s delicious” and if you remember one phrase from this page, that’s one.
Thanks for checking out my website. If you’re interested in Japan enough to learn the language, I’d like you to know that I’m currently making a series of Japanese Survival Phrases for Tourists. If you’d like to receive upcoming articles, please follow my site, JapanThis.Tours. I have more great content coming soon!