Both borrowed words and native words are commonly used for food items in Japanese, and many foods are called by both the native and English-derived terms, in which case the more common/established of the two will be the one used here.
|メロン||melon||green melon (honeydew)|
Random tidbit: Japanese apples are much larger than western apples, while the watermelons are rather small.
|ねぎ||negi||green onion (scallions)|
|ピーマン||piiman||bell pepper, green pepper (Fr. piment)|
|まめ||mame||beans (in general)|
Japanese cuisine uses a lot of vegetables, including many that are unknown in the west. One Japanese vegetable you might be aware of is the daikon, which is a giant white radish.
にくとシーフード(Niku to Shiifuudo)/Meat and Seafood
|えび||ebi||shrimp, prawn, lobster|
Tori "bird" is used to refer to chicken in the context of food, since turkey and other poultry is rarely found in Japan. Similarly, niku "meat" without further specification usually refers to beef, though butaniku (pork) is cheaper and consumed in greater quantity.
And of course, let's not forget toufu (soy bean curd), which by itself is mostly flavorless but easily absorbs the flavor of anything it's cooked with. In Japan it's not just a vegetarian food, but a regular ingredient in Japanese cuisine.
Dairy products are not used in traditional Japanese cuisine, but they can still be found in Japanese supermarkets and in western food. Both gyuunyuu and miruku are common words for milk.
こめとめんとパン(Kome to Men to Pan)/Rice, Noodles, Bread
|うどん||udon||udon (wheat noodles)|
|そうめん||soumen||somen (thin noodles)|
|そば||soba||soba (buckwheat noodles)|
|ラーメン||raamen||ramen (Chinese noodles)|
|パン||pan||bread, rolls, pastries|
|かしパン||kashipan||sweet bread, pastries|
Several notes this time:
- Japanese rice is short grain, as opposed to the long grain rice usually used in the west. Short grain rice is somewhat sticky and clumps together, making it easy to eat with chopsticks.
- Japanese noodles, especially somen and soba, can be served hot in a soup or cold with a dipping sauce. Noodle dishes are a popular lunch food in Japan.
- The "ramen" that we know is really just instant noodles. Real ramen is a Chinese-style Japanese noodle soup with real broth and various toppings that vary by region.
- Pan in Japanese can refer to any sort of bread or pastry, and is more of a snack than a staple meal item.
|おちゃ||ocha||green tea, tea in general|
|にほんちゃ||nihoncha||Japanese green tea|
|むぎちゃ||mugicha||Japanese iced barley tea|
|こうちゃ||koucha||black tea (lit. "crimson tea")|
|おさけ||osake||sake (rice wine), alcohol in general|
As you might expect, Japanese people drink a lot of tea, both green and other varieties, not necessarily with meals, but often alone or with snacks.
Koohii for coffee was coined back when "f" was transcribed as "h" in borrowed words, giving ハ、ヒ、フ、ヘ、ホ rather than the more modern ファ、フィ、フ、フェ、フォ.
ちょうみりょうとやくみ(Chomiryou to Yakumi)/Seasonings and Condiments
|みりん||mirin||sweet cooking sake|
|わさび||wasabi||wasabi (Japanese "horseradish")|
Real wasabi is a grated root; the green paste found outside of Japan is a cheaper substitute made from horseradish and mustard, two related plants.
|すし||sushi||sushi (sweet vinegared rice with raw seafood, in various shapes)|
|さしみ||sashimi||sashimi (thinly sliced raw fish over sushi rice)|
|てんぷら||tenpura||tempura (battered and fried vegetables and seafood)|
|やきとり||yakitori||yakitori (grilled chicken skewers)|
|やきにく||yakiniku||yakiniku (grilled beef and vegetables)|
|やきそば||yakisoba||yakisoba (fried noodles, usually udon or ramen-like, with ham/sausage and vegetables)|
|すきやき||sukiyaki||sukiyaki (too difficult to explain here)|
|おこのみやき||okonomiyaki||okonomiyaki ("Japanese pancakes", with meat or seafood and vegetables inside)|
|とんかつ||tonkatsu||fried pork cutlet|
|カレー・カレーライス||karee/karee raisu||Japanese curry with rice|
|コロッケ||kurokke||croquette (fried mashed potato patty with meat/seafood/vegetables)|
|ぎょうざ||gyouza||Chinese style fried dumplings (potstickers)|
|みそしる||misoshiru||miso soup (miso is a soy-based paste)|
This particular list is far from complete, but includes a number of items that are familiar to westerners or otherwise easy to understand.
Yaki, from the verb yaku, can refer to frying, grilling, baking, or any similar cooking methods that apply direct heat. In contrast, there are several words that translate as "to steam", each for a different food item. Boiling, steaming, and other less fiery cooking methods are used more in Japanese cuisine than in western cooking.
Most meat-based dishes only originated in the last century or so, since consumption of meat was banned for most of Japanese written history.
Although not strictly native to Japan, Japanese karee is quite unlike Indian-style curry and definitely unique to Japan.
|スープ||suupu||soup (any kind)|
|フライドポテト||furaidopoteto||fries, fried potatoes|
Note that despite the similar names, Japanese versions of western foods are typically adapted to Japanese tastes, with results like pizza with corn as a topping.
おやつとおかし(Oyatsu to Okashi)/Snacks and Sweets
|ゼリー||zerii||jelly (gelatin and similar desserts)|
|わがし||wagashi||traditional Japanese sweets (many of which are cracker-like)|
Dessert is not traditionally served after meals in Japan (except possibly fresh fruit), but sweet foods are eaten as snacks.