Ramen Language Cheat Sheet

Updated November 8, 2019 | by Chad A. Thiele, 23 year veteran of Tokyo.

What follows is simply a list of words in English and their Japanese counterparts. With one thing to note: some will have kanji, some won’t. This is because while the word may have kanji, the Japanese don’t use them regularly.

Ramen Words (in alphabetical order)

  • Bamboo – めんま (menma)
  • Bean Sprouts – もやし (moyashi)
  • Braised Pork – チャーシュー (chashu)
  • Butter – バター (batā)
  • Corn – コーン (kon)
  • Garlic – ニンニク (ninniku)
  • Green Onions- ねぎ (Negi)
  • Noodles – 麺 (men)
  • Pork Bone Broth – 豚骨 (tonkotsu)
  • Ramen – ラーメン (ra-men)
  • Salt – しお (shio)
  • Seaweed – のり (nori)
  • Small (mini) – ミニ (mi-ni)
  • Soybean Paste – 味噌 (miso)
  • Soy Sauce – しょゆ (shoyu)
  • Thick Noodle – 太麺 (futomen)
  • Thin Noodle – 細麺 (hosomen)
  • Ticket – 切符 (kippu)

Ramen Phrases

  • Can I get a small portion? Do you have a mini size? This is actually easier than you might think, say “mini saizu arimasu ka?” (me-ni sa-E-zoo ah-lee-ma-sue ka)
  • Do you have a loyalty card? This is asked by asking if the shop has a stamp card, say “stampu kado arimasu ka?” (su-ta-m-pu ka-doe ah-lee-ma-sue ka)
  • Do you have spicy miso? Some shops will have a signature spicy dish and to ask if they have something spicy say: “karai miso ramen arimasu ka?” (ka-la-E me-so la-men ah-lee-ma-sue ka)
  • Is takeout available? Put your finger on the menu item you want and say “kore wa mochikaeri dekimasu ka?” (koh-ley wa moe-chee-ka-e-lee de-key-ma-sue ka)

Customize your ramen

Many ramen shops will let you customize your order a little. Most often choosing between firm/soft noodles, more/less lard, or a thick/thin soup.

  • Firmer noodles, please.men o katame de onegai shimasu.” (men oh ka-ta-may de oh-nay-ga-she-ma-sue)
  • Softer noodles, please.men o yawarakame de oneagi shimasu.” (men oh ya-wa-la-ka-may de oh-nay-ga-she-ma-sue)
  • Less lard (oil), please.abura o sukuname onegai shimasu.” (ah-boo-la oh sue-koo-na-may oh-nay-ga-she-ma-sue)
  • More lard (oil), please.abura o oome onegai shimasu.” (ah-boo-la oh oh-may oh-nay-ga-she-ma-sue)
  • Thicker soup, please.aji o koime onegai shimasu.” (ah-gee oh ko-E-may oh-nay-ga-she-ma-sue)
  • Thinner soup, please. “aji o usume onegai shimasu.” (ah-gee oh ooh-sue-may oh-nay-ga-she-ma-sue)

A quick note about thicker/thinner soup. Technically, aji is taste (or flavor). So it’s really saying “I’d like a stronger flavor.

Quick Shortcuts

Those phrases can be tough, so here are some shortcuts that will work too:

  • Firm noodles.katame kudasai.” (ka-ta-may koo-duh-sigh)
  • Softer noodles.yawarakame kudasai.” (ya-wa-la-ka-may koo-duh-sigh)
  • Less lard.abura sukuname kudasai.” (ah-boo-la sue-koo-na-may koo-duh-sigh)
  • More lard.abura oome kudasai.” (ah-boo-la oh-may koo-duh-sigh)
  • Thick soup.aji koime kudasai.” (ah-gee ko-E-may koo-duh-sigh)
  • Thin soup.aji usume kudasai.” (ah-gee ooh-sue-may koo-duh-sigh)