Did you ever get confused at a Japanese restaurant when the staff kept a small bowl of food even before you’ve ordered?
It could be anything like raddish pickles, tofu with grated ginger or even a mini salad, something the size of an appetizer and it varies at different restaurants.
Many foreigners are surprised by this but it is a quintessential aspect of eating at Japanese restaurants especially at izakaya, Japanese-style pubs.
Meaning of Otoshi (お通し)
Otoshi is also called Tsukidashi (突き出し),which literally means “pushed out,” in the Kansai region, since it can be served immediately. Since drinks are served quickly after ordering, an Otoshi, equivalent to an appetizer, is a offered as an accompaniment. Whether you wish to or not, you will be given one. You won’t see this at fast food restaurants or places with set meals (定食).
Why is Otoshi served?
Some of you may be aware that there is no tipping culture in Japan. So the Otoshi is provided for a service charge; it ranges from 300-500 yen per person and can go up to 1000 yen at fancier places. One of the reasons for this is that many customers sit for long hours with just one drink and a cover charge is to kind of recover the cost of space! Many izakaya also have a policy of one drink per person or one food item per person.
If you are wondering why Japanese restaurants do not accept tips, you might understand the logic of having the custom of Otoshi.
Check this feature, to know more on the “no-tipping” culture in Japan!
Let us know if there is something that needs to be fixed: Feedback Form