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Akadama Dictionary


Otoshi is a very ordinary thing for Japanese people. We commonly enjoy food and our first drinks together. While drinking our first drinks and eating otoshi, we choose what dishes we want from the menu. But one time in an izakaya Wan-kun, who is from overseas, asked me with a confused look on his face “ I received a small dish that I didn’t order…Are you sure I can eat it??” His question makes sense. This is one of Japan’s original customs and I hadn’t paid it any mind. So, what exactly is otoshi?




A small appetizer or some snack that goes well with beverages.



If you go out for food and drinks in a casual restaurant or a bar, you are immediately served a small dish of food together with your first drink or even before ordering a drink.



Most types of casual Japanese restaurants where you can enjoy food and drinks, such as izakayas - traditional Japanese taverns - and bars. Otoshi is not served in fancy restaurants normally.




Restaurant or bar staff brings it to you.


It is a table charge. But some restaurants or bars serve Otoshi as hospitality, something for guests to nibble on until their food arrives.



On average it costs 200-500 yen per person and it is automatically served. Otoshi is a kind of unspoken agreement in Japanese restaurant culture.



In most cases, Otoshi is not listed on the regular menu and they offer what they have  prepared beforehand. To be honest, it can be hit or miss depending on the restaurant. Some dishes are elaborate and others are quite simple, like potato chips.
All things considered this, Otoshi tells us how good a restaurant is. When you have high quality Otoshi, other food from the menu must be good.  In some restaurants, you may even be brought a selection of Otoshi from which you can choose .
Many tourists from overseas don’t know about this original custom and are bewildered when they are charged for Otoshi without being asked if they’d like it.The number of tourists has been increasing recently in Japan and sometimes trouble arises from Otoshi that a customer didn’t order. So, there are some restaurants and bars that at first ask tourists “Charge OK?” and give them the option to refuse Otoshi.


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