A bowl of tonkotsu ramen at Tei-An

A bowl of tonkotsu ramen at Tei-An

Staff File/Staff Photographer

Here is a basic glossary of terms you’re likely to see on Japanese menus or hear in sushi bars and izakayas in North Texas (and elsewhere in the United States). It is by no means comprehensive, but a good page to bookmark to help you order smart.

Aji

Horse mackerel.

Akami

Red-fleshed fish, a sushi category. Tuna is an example. Akami should be eaten after shiromi (white-fleshed fish) and before sushi using cooked fish or rolls.

Ankimo with ponzu sauce and traditional garnish

Ankimo with ponzu sauce and traditional garnish

/File 

Anago

Salt-water eel. Brushed with sweet, rich tsumé reduction, it is popular as sushi.

Ankimo

Monkfish liver, a delicacy. Traditionally it is steamed, sliced and served with ponzu, grated daikon mixed with red chile and sliced scallions.

Awabi

Abalone. May be served grilled, simmered in sake or raw, as sushi or sashimi.

Battera

Pressed sushi, a specialty of Osaka. It is made in a special wooden box, then sliced.

Bento

A multi-component meal served in a sectioned box.

A Bento box with Kurobuto tonkatsu, tempura, sushi, Japanese pickles and more at Yama Izakaya & Sushi in Plano

A Bento box with Kurobuto tonkatsu, tempura, sushi, Japanese pickles and more at Yama Izakaya & Sushi in Plano

/Nathan Hunsinger/Staff Photographer

Binchotan

Super-hot-burning Japanese oak charcoal, used for grilling yakitori or robatayaki.

Chanpon at Ino Japanese Bistro 

Chanpon at Ino Japanese Bistro 

/2016 File 

Chanpon 

Seafood, pork and Chinese noodle soup, a specialty of Nagasaki.

Chashu

Sliced roast pork. Often made with pork belly, it is a popular garnish for ramen.

Chawan mushi

A savory steamed egg custard filled with chicken, shrimp, gingko nuts and more, served in a ceramic cup with a lid.

Chirashi zushi, chirashi sushi

Sushi rice topped with sliced raw fish.

Daikon

Japanese radish. Maybe be grated (oroshi is grated daikon) or spiralized as a garnish, or served pickled or braised.

Dashi

A simple, quick stock made with kombu and katsuobushi, dashi is the foundation for a plethora of Japanese dishes, including miso soup.

Donburi

A ceramic bowl, often with a lid, or a dish that’s served in one.

Ebi

A prawn or shrimp.

Edamame

Soybeans. Boiled in their pods and salted, they’re a popular appetizer or izakaya snack.

Furikake

A savory dry seasoning mix to sprinkle on rice. It might include toasted seaweed and sesame seeds, ground fish, salt and spices.

Futomaki at Sushi Bayashi 

Futomaki at Sushi Bayashi 

/2015 Staff File 

Futomaki

A fat, nori-wrapped sushi roll — traditionally filled with tamago, mushrooms, dried gourd and dried tofu — and cut into thick slices.

Gari

Thin-sliced marinated ginger served with sushi.

Gobo

Burdock root. Pickled, it is a often included in sushi rolls.

Uni (sea urchin) served as gunkan maki sushi at Sushi Sake in Richardson

Uni (sea urchin) served as gunkan maki sushi at Sushi Sake in Richardson

/2014 Staff File

Gunkan maki

A type of sushi in which a sheet of nori is wrapped around a pat of seasoned rice to form a cup; raw fish or roe is set atop the rice.

Gyoza

A pleated-top dumpling filled with pork and cabbage, often pan-fried.

Hamachi

Yellowtail.

Hikarimono

Shiny fish — in other words, fish with shiny skin, such as sardines, smelts or mackerel. It is one of the categories of sushi, to be eaten after shiromi, white-fleshed fish, as it has a stronger flavor.

Ika

Squid.

Ikura

Salmon roe.

Inada

Baby yellowtail.

Iwashi

Sardine.

Izakaya snacks (clockwise from top left): moro Q; edamame; Kurobuta pork kushiyaki skewers  

Izakaya snacks (clockwise from top left): moro Q; edamame; Kurobuta pork kushiyaki skewers  

/File

Izakaya

A Japanese-style tavern that serves a variety of snacks to go with sake and beer.

Kaiseki

An elaborate, formal meal of many courses, all chosen by the chef to highlight the best ingredients of the season.

Kaiware

Daikon sprouts.

Kakiage 

Small or chopped seafood and/or vegetables that have been clumped together, battered and fried as tempura.

Kakiage at Tei-An

Kakiage at Tei-An

/2015 Staff File 

Kanpachi, kampachi

A type of amberjack.

Kanpyo

Dried gourd, a common ingredient in sushi rolls.

Katsuobushi

Katsuobushi

/Tom Fox/Staff Photographer

Kappamaki

Cucumber-filled sushi roll.

Katsuobushi

Bonito that has been dried, smoked and cured, then shaved. It is an essential ingredient in dashi, as well as a garnish for many dishes.

Kazunoko

Salted herring roe.

Kobe beef

Richly marbled Wagyu beef raised in Japan’s Kobe prefecture.

Kohada

Gizzard shad — one of the hikarimono (shiny fish). It is marinated in salt and vinegar for sushi.

Konbu

A type of dried seaweed that’s an essential element in dashi.

Madai

Red sea bream.

Maguro sushi at Sushi Bayashi

Maguro sushi at Sushi Bayashi

/2015 Staff File 

Maguro

Tuna.

Makimono

Nori-wrapped rolls, a sushi category. These are usually eaten toward the end of a sushi meal.

Masago

Smelt roe.

Sake served in a masu at Tei Tei Robata Bar 

Sake served in a masu at Tei Tei Robata Bar 

/2011 File

Masu

A square wooden box used to serve sake.  

Mentaiko

Salted pollack roe flavored with chile pepper.

Mirin

Lightly sweet shochu-based sauce.

Mirugai

A large clam. Eaten raw as sushi or sashimi, it has a distinctive crunchy-chewy texture.

Miyazaki Wagyu beef grilled over binchotan at Teppo

Miyazaki Wagyu beef grilled over binchotan at Teppo

/Rose Baca/Staff Photographer

Miyazaki beef

Richly marbled Wagyu beef raised in Japan’s Miyazaki prefecture. The best quality is A5.

Negi

A green vegetable in the onion family, almost like a cross between a leek and a scallion.

Nigiri sushi

The style of sushi that’s a pad of rice topped with a dab of wasabi and a slice of fish.

Nigiri sushi at Teppo

Nigiri sushi at Teppo

/Rose Baca/Staff Photographer

Moro Q, morokyu 

Cucumbers with miso paste, a popular izakaya snack.

Myoga

A type of ginger of which only the buds and stems are eaten. They’re often pickled, sliced and used as a garnish.

Nabemono

One-pot dish or hot-pot, often cooked at the table.

Country-style gyu nabe at Tei-An is an example of nabemono. 

Country-style gyu nabe at Tei-An is an example of nabemono. 

/2014 Staff File 

Nabeyaki udon

A hot-pot dish of udon with seafood and vegetables.

Natto

Fermented soybeans. They have a gooey texture and strong flavor.

Nigiri sushi

A slice of fish or piece of seafood, often raw, dabbed with wasabi and set atop an oblong ball of seasoned rice. The fish may be cured, marinated or brushed at the last minute with nikiri shoyu or tsume reduction.

Nikiri shoyu

A combination of mirin and soy sauce. The sushi chef lightly brushes the sauce onto the fish slices of nigiri sushi just before serving.

Okonomiyaki

A thick, savory pancake, often filled with cabbage, seafood and pork, brushed with a Worcestershire-like sauce and topped with shaved or grated bonito flakes. 

Oyakodon, served at Yama Izakaya & Sushi in Plano

Oyakodon, served at Yama Izakaya & Sushi in Plano

/Nathan Hunsinger/Staff Photographer

Oyakodon or oyako donburi

A rice-bowl dish with chicken, egg and vegetables.

Omakase

Literally “I will leave it to you,” this refers to a tasting menu in which the chef chooses the dishes.

Oshinko – assorted Japanese pickles  – at Teppo. From left: cucumber; nozawana (a Japanese green); Japanese squash; eggplant and two kinds of turnip.

Oshinko – assorted Japanese pickles  – at Teppo. From left: cucumber; nozawana (a Japanese green); Japanese squash; eggplant and two kinds of turnip.

/Rose Baca/Staff Photographer

Oshinko

Japanese pickles. Also called tseukemono.

Ponzu

Literally, citrus juice. Commonly ponzu is shorthand for ponzu joyu, a citrus and soy sauce, often used with sushi or sashimi.

Robatayaki 

Hokkaido-style seafood grilled over binchotan, hot-burning Japanese oak charcoal.

Branzino cooked over binchotan on the robata grill  at Tei Tei Robata Bar. 

Branzino cooked over binchotan on the robata grill  at Tei Tei Robata Bar. 

/2011 File

Saba

Mackerel. It is delicious grilled, or pickled with salt and vinegar and served as sushi.

Sanma

Saury, a shiny fish also known as pike mackerel.

Ramen topped with sansai

Ramen topped with sansai

/Leslie Brenner/Staff

Sansai

Japanese mountain vegetables. A mixture of sansai is often used as a topping for udon, soba or ramen.

Saury

See sanma.

Sawara

Spanish mackerel.

Sayori

Halfbeak. A small, slim shiny fish with a needle-like beak, it has a lovely delicate flavor. 

Sayori at Yutaka Sushi Bistro 

Sayori at Yutaka Sushi Bistro 

/2015 Staff File 

Shabu Shabu

Thin-sliced beef and vegetables cooked at the table in a simmering pot of stock.

Shima aji

Striped jack.

Shio

Salt.

Shiromi

White-fleshed fish, a sushi category. Shiromi should be ordered toward the beginning of a sushi experience.

Hamachi sashimi garnished with wasabi (on the wooden paddle at right) and shiso (the leaf in the background) at Sushi Bayashi

Hamachi sashimi garnished with wasabi (on the wooden paddle at right) and shiso (the leaf in the background) at Sushi Bayashi

/2015 Staff File

Shiso

Perilla, an herb. Green perilla, a large leaf with a beautiful perfume, is commonly used as a garnish with sashimi and sushi.

Shochu

A spirit, usually distilled from rice, barley, buckwheat or sweet potatoes.

Shoyu

Soy sauce

Shungiku

Chrysanthemum leaves, used as a vegetable in nabemono or fried as tempura.

Matsuma zuke soba, a seasonal special, at Tei-An.

Matsuma zuke soba, a seasonal special, at Tei-An.

/2010 File 

Soba 

Buckwheat noodles. Can be served cold or hot, traditionally on a zaru (woven bamboo plate) with a dipping sauce. When the noodles are finished, soba cooking water is poured into the remaining dipping sauce and it is sipped as a drink.

Sunomono

Vinegar-dressed salad, often involving cucumbers and sometimes seafood.

Suzuki

Sea bass.

Tai

Sea bream.

Tako

Octopus.

Takoyaki at Ken Japanese Bistro in Richardson

Takoyaki at Ken Japanese Bistro in Richardson

/2016 Staff File

Takoyaki

Cooked balls of chopped octopus in batter, a popular izakaya snack, served with a thick sauce.

Tamago

A lightly sweet omelet. It may be served on its own, cut into bite-size pieces, or as nirigi, usually at the end of a meal.

Tekkamaki

Marinated tuna sushi roll.

Temaki

A sushi hand-roll.

Alaskan king crab tempura at Nobu Dallas 

Alaskan king crab tempura at Nobu Dallas 

/2015 Staff File 

Tempura

Seafood, fish or vegetables deep-fried in a batter. The best tempura is super light, so the flavor of the thing being fried shines through. Shrimp is classic. It is usually served with a hot dashi-based dipping sauce flavored with soy sauce and mirin.

Tobiko

Flying fish roe.

Togarashi

Ground chile-pepper, a condiment.

Tonkatsu, served with traditional shredded cabbage garnish, at Tonkatsu Kaneda in Plano

Tonkatsu, served with traditional shredded cabbage garnish, at Tonkatsu Kaneda in Plano

/Leslie Brenner/Staff

Tonkatsu

Pork cutlet coated in egg and panko (Japanese bread crumbs) and fried. Traditionally it is served with a thick Worcestershire-type sauce and a mound of shredded raw cabbage.

Tonkotsu ramen

Ramen noodles in a rich, long-simmered pork broth.

Tonkotsu ramen at Ten

Tonkotsu ramen at Ten

/2015 Staff File 

Toro

Fatty belly of a fish.

Tsukemono

Japanese pickle. Also called oshinko.

Tsumé reduction

A thick, sweet soy-based sauce used with eel, squid or other seafood for sushi.

Udon

Thick, soft wheat noodles.

Umeboshi

Dried, salt-pickled Japanese apricot. Red shiso leaves are often used to dye them red.

Unagi

Freshwater eel, usually served broiled with a lightly sweet soy-mirin-sake sauce.

Uni

Sea urchin ovaries. Often served as sashimi, nigiri sushi or gunkan maki.

Wagyu

A breed of beef known for rich marbling of its meat.

Sakura mochi, served at Masami Japanese Sushi and Cuisine in Richardson, is an example of wagashi.

Sakura mochi, served at Masami Japanese Sushi and Cuisine in Richardson, is an example of wagashi.

/Staff File 

Wagashi

Japanese sweets, including cakes, cookies and confections.

Wasabi

Japanese horseradish. Grated, it is used to season the fish for sushi and sashimi. Better Japanese sushi bars and restaurants offer fresh wasabi, often for an upcharge (it is expensive). The much more common “wasabi” is paste reconstituted from dried, powdered horseradish that has been colored green with mustard added.

At a yakinku restaurant, such as Niwa Japanese BBQ in Deep Ellum (shown here), diners cook their own beef on a grill built into the tabletop. 

At a yakinku restaurant, such as Niwa Japanese BBQ in Deep Ellum (shown here), diners cook their own beef on a grill built into the tabletop. 

Tailyr Irvine/Tailyr Irvine/Staff Photographer

Yakiniku

Japanese-style Korean barbecue.

Yakitori

Skewered chicken and other meats cooked over blazing-hot binchotan coals.

Yuzu

A Japanese citrus that looks like a small, wrinkled lime.

Cold soba served on a zaru at Tei-An

Cold soba served on a zaru at Tei-An

/Staff file 

Zaru

A woven bamboo mat or plate traditionally used to serve soba.

Zuke

Tuna marinated in nikiri shoyu.

SOURCES: A Dictionary of Japanese Food by Richard Hosking; Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art by Shizuo Tsuji; Edomae Sushi: Art, Tradition, Simplicity by Kikuo Shimizu

CORRECTION, 8:30 a.m., Oct. 21, 2017: We have corrected the spelling of sunomono and tsukemono in this glossary.

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