What's What in Japanese Restaurants
Book information


Everybody loves sushi, and people in certain big cities around the world are starting to discover the small-dish pleasures of the izakaya, but there's so much more to Japanese cuisine that is mostly unknown outside Japan. Even when people with a strong culinary interest visit Japan, they can get stuck in a gourmet rut, searching for the best sushi or sampling high-priced entries from the Michelin Guide and thus missing out on discovering some very exciting specialty cuisines.

Restaurants in Japan have changed quite a bit in the past few decades, and What's What in Japanese Restaurants is modern in focus and up-to-date on the real dining scene in urban Japan. Izakayas have gone from quaint rustic drinking spots to architecturally adventurous design showcases with international-level cuisine to match. While the rest of the world has started discovering Kobe beef, Japanese gourmets have moved on to exotic breeds of pork. And while old-school hand-made soba shops are still keeping up their very respectable tradition, the ramen world is evolving quickly, with exciting innovations and a fanatically devoted audience.

Food writer and long-time Japan resident Robb Satterwhite of Bento.com shows you not only how to find restaurants, but also how and what to order to ensure that each restaurant visit will be a unique culinary experience. Without even speaking Japanese, you will be able to order with confidence in a variety of situations from the menus of sushi, tempura, and kaiseki restaurants, as well as off-the-cuff at informal izakaya pubs and street vendors. Furthermore, with more than thirty types of cuisines covered, you will know exactly what you're eating and how to savor it.

What's What in Japanese Restaurants, by Bento.com editor Robb Satterwhite, is an informative and entertaining introduction to Japanese cuisine. Online ordering information is at the bottom of this page.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction: What's New in Japanese Restaurants
  • Features of What's What in Japanese Restaurants
  • How to Use This Book
  • A Guide to Japanese Pronunciation

I Irasshaimase: About Japanese Restaurants

  • The Art of Japanese Cooking
  • Restaurant Customs
  • Recognizing Specialty Restaurants

II Sushi and Seafood Cuisines

  • Sushi
  • Tempura (deep-fried seafood and vegetables)
  • Fugu (blowfish)
  • Unagi (eel) and Specialty Fish
  • Fish and Seafood Quick Menu Reference

III Kobe Beef and Meat Cuisines

  • Kobe Beef, Premium Pork, and Other Meats
  • Teppanyaki (grilled steak and seafood)
  • Shabu-Shabu and Sukiyaki (one-pot meat dishes)
  • Tonkatsu (pork cutlets) and Pork Specialities
  • Yakiniku (Korean barbecue)

IV Izakaya: Dining Pubs and Pub-style Cuisines

  • The Evolution of the Izakaya: From red-lantern pub to sleek dining bar
  • Yakitori (grilled chicken)
  • Kushiage (deep-fried food on skewers)
  • Nabemono and Chanko-nabe (quick-cooked stews)
  • Oden (fish cakes in broth)

V Nihon-Ryori: General Japanese Cuisine

  • Ryotei and Kaiseki Cuisine
  • Kyodo-Ryori (regional specialties)
  • Okinawan Cuisine

VI Everyday Dining

  • Ramen (Chinese-style noodles)
  • Soba and Udon (buckwheat and wheat noodles)
  • Okonomiyaki and Monjayaki (savory pancakes)
  • Takoyaki and Akashiyaki (octopus dumplings)
  • Yoshoku (retro Western-style dishes) and Japanese Curry
  • Japanese Desserts
  • Outdoor Eating and Other Places for Food

VII Drinking in Japan

  • Where to Drink
  • Precautions When Selecting a Bar
  • Drinking Customs
  • What to Drink

VIII Menu-reading and Ordering

  • Phrases for Ordering in Japanese
  • Reading Numbers and Basic Vocabulary Terms
  • Glossary
  • Hiragana and Katakana Charts
  • Index


"If you enjoy Japanese food, here's a suggestion you'll thank me for: go out and buy this little book....It is practical, authentic and complete -- and my copy is quickly going to be well-thumbed."
Jack Cartier, Tokyo Journal

"Wonderfully handy....Plenty of pictures, how-to's on pronouncing, a food vocabulary and much more in the valuable What's What in Japanese Restaurants."
Bob Lape, WCBS Radio (New York)

"The real joy...is the careful history and description of the various dishes, toppings and accompaniments....If only I had had What's What in Japanese Restaurants with me on my Japan travels, I might have better survived the suggestions of my hosts."
Shelby Hodge, The Houston Post

"What's What in Japanese Restaurants is an encyclopedia of terms on Japanese cuisine and other related subjects. It aims to guide the reader on the various specialty dishes in Japan and gives an overview of the culinary customs and history of various parts of the country....What will probably endear the author to his readers is that he takes pains to explain everything related to his subject thoroughly."
Maria Linda F. Hanihara, Japan Times

"This extremely helpful guide ... offers a comprehensive approach to the language of Japanese dining. Satterwhite explains how to find restaurants and tells what food specialties they serve, incorporating sample menus for each type. Satterwhite also discusses cooking styles and eating customs -- even how to avoid hangovers!"
Susan M. Reisser, Washington Post

Ordering the book

What's What is sold in most Japanese bookstores in the U.S. and Europe, and in English-language bookstores in Japan.

What's What in Japanese Restaurants
Robb Satterwhite
published by Kodansha International. Paperback, 256pp.
ISBN10: 4-7700-3144-0
ISBN13: 978-4-7700-3144-0
Y1890 (Japan); $16.95 (US list price).

Sample chapters

Lightly batter-fried seafood and vegetables
Charcoal-grilled freshwater eel
Grilled chicken on skewers, with sauce or just salt
Deep-fried pork cutlet
Sea grapes and other regional delicacies
Quick-cooked stews that are perfect for winter

Copyright © Robb Satterwhite.


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