Ordering more than one thing at a restaurant

Having troubling googling a result (there’s a lot of ordering two beers, but not so many examples for ordering an appetizer and a main dish, which is often what I do. Or a drink and a food item.)

My suite of questions involve:

  1. onegaishimasu or kudasai? I see conflicting reports!
  2. Do I pop a と between beer and bread, or a different particle?
  3. Do I specify quantities if it’s obviously just me, like 1 beer and 1 bread, or can I just say beer and bread?
  4. Stumbled across this, and don’t understand what つと is doing here: カレーひとつ生なまビールひとつ、お願ねがいします

As a Canadian (we’d do well as Japanese, I think) I always want to be extra polite. So in real life I’d never say “beer and bread please,” I’d say something like “Yes, I’m ready to order. I’d very much like to try your bread and your beer please.” Are there extra phrases as a preamble to ordering (or a post-amble?) Should I be tossing in 食べたい or 飲みたい, or is adding the please and thank you enough?

Sorry to ask so much!

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Are you talking about ひとつ? That’s just the number of things you are asking for.

These are very direct ways of expressing desire and you wouldn’t use them when ordering.

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Ugh. Yes, I was talking about ひとつ. I’m used to seeing it as 一つ so I was thrown by the all hiragana version of it. Thanks! (The “ugh” isn’t for you, it’s how hard it is to learn a spelling, a reading, a meaning, and then have to realise that hard-earned spelling won’t always be used!)

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You can open with

はい、すみません。注文したいんですけど or 注文していいですか?

And when they give you a nod or response, you can then follow up with your order. I’d say お願いします is more polite than ください. I’d use the former at a nice restaurant, and the latter and a casual place or izakaya.

To finish off, you can say 以上です (いじょうです) “That’s all”.

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And yeah, you don’t need particles really. When my girlfriend and I order, it usually like the example you mentioned, where there’s no と or anything between each thing. We also usually don’t give a preamble or anything. You shout すみません! , the person comes to your table and asks you if you’re ready, and you just start.

Could differ based on the type of restaurant I suppose.

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I don’t think you need to worry about using と really, I and Japanese people that I’ve eaten with order like:

とんこつラーメンふたつ、ピザひとつ、ジュースひとつ。以上です。おねがいします。

With some number finger gestures in there too which the waiters often do as well. I never really use ください. In fact I feel like I still go a bit over the top with how often I say please and thank you - sometimes when I’m eating with Japanese friends they don’t acknowledge the server when they bring food/take plates away etc. and it’s not considered ‘rude’

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  1. Either. I usually go with お願いします because ください feels a little more direct, but either’s fine.
  2. と is fine! So are fillers and linking words like で, あと, etc., though they’re less direct. As Leebo noted, not using any particle is fine too, as long as you’re saying each item clearly and adding a counter afterward.
  3. Yes, specify quantities. Append the counter directly after the item; no particle. Depending on the item, specific counter words can be used, but つ is always fine.
  4. This example is just doing all of the above. Using と to separate items, appending counters (ひとつ) after each, and ending in お願いします. Edit – Actually, it’s not using any particles. Whoops.

As noted above, finish with 以上です when you’re done. (以上 has a secondary meaning of “finished,” and is used to indicate the end of a list or statement.) If you don’t say it, they’ll ask, and you can just say はい. They’ll also probably repeat your order for you to confirm.

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There’s no と particle in the example.

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Imagining particles is a common side effect of not yet having had coffee.

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I notice this too when I’m in a group, but as a highly visible foreigner, I feel like it doesn’t hurt to be a little more polite.

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I agree with this. This is typically what I hear. I would also add that even though my Japanese teachers said it’s better to use specific counters, even when I do the servers have returned using ~つ. Always use counters because servers will always confirm how many.

I agree with you. There was an article about some people in the service industry in Japan that feel that it’s tough because people ignore them. It made me feel that being a little polite and thankful might make their day better rather than burden them. However, I use おねがいします rather than ください because it sounds more like a general please and ください sounds more like a request for someone to do something. That’s just been my feeling as I’m trying to grasp the nuances.

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One other thing to consider - menus at restaurants in Japan can be a bit different than what we’re accustomed to in the US, Canada, etc. Not uncommon for their to be set course options - order one “item” for example and it’s the main, side of rice, a soup, pickled vegetables etc. all in one.

So in those cases it’s pretty easy!

I’d agree with everyone else here though. Not much preamble for niceties with staff. I recall hearing Japanese shout a すいません、先生、or お願いします to get staff’s attention and that’s it.

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お客様は神様ですよね。

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I could be wrong but I think it might be better to use the drinks counter for drinks if you know it.
(一杯、二杯、三杯・・・)

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Thanks everyone so much for this.

I was thinking about counters, which seemed so strange when I started learning Japanese, but I realise we have them in English as well, just not quite so extensively. We ask for 3 sheets, rather than 3 paper, 5 cups, rather than 5 milks, 1 carton, rather than 1 orange juice, 1 pack, rather than 1 gum, 2 decks, rather than 2 sets of playing cards, and so on.

Is this a bit similar in Japanese? Is the counter for flat things also equivalent to the word “sheet,” say, or am I creating parallels that don’t exist?

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If you want a lot of example phrases for your restaurant visit, watch 孤独のグルメ

Alas, not available in Canada on Netflix. But maybe it’s a good reason to sign up for another streaming service :wink: I’ve been watching Food Wars (食戟のソーマ), but it’s mostly the cooking side of things, not the ordering-in-restaurants side. (Thrilled that I can translate the title though: Soma of the Food Wars (the hero is named Soma). Thanks Wanikani!–I haven’t learned 孤独 yet).

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Yes, it’s almost exactly the same, except nearly everything has a counter in Japanese. We don’t say “3 machines of cars” or “5 small items of egg” but Japanese do.

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I have no different experiences or different takes to add to anything–it has always been my experience that I just had to adjust to the lack of polite phrases and get on with the ordering and calling a waiter, etc.

I just wanted to add something to the responses for one part of the original post: “Do I specify quantities if it’s obviously just me”

I am asked nearly every time I order a beer or any type of food how many I wanted, i.e. in my mind I was saying “I’d like a beer please,” or “a tempura set meal” or whatever, but the [a] article is totally imagined by me, and they still want to know how many I wanted, even if I’m alone. And since I’m very much hakujin looking and not good at Japanese, they always asked with the generic Japanese counters, not anything specific for cups, cylindrical things, etc.

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Good to know!