Ah, I like “the American” better. You can have the “I’ll have this” relationship with the microwave dinners in your freezer. And I work in a restaurant; I can’t speak for other establishments, but we are happy to accommodate special needs or desires. We have a regular customer who for instance will ask for “seven green beans” . And he means it, he’ll count them. No problem, we can count too. If it makes him happy that’s cool
One of the things that I really like about the service in restaurants in Japan is that servers generally do not come and talk to you after you have ordered and been served unless you specifically call them over. Larger restaurants will generally have a button that you press to summon a server, and you won’t see them unless you press the button. Even larger restaurants will have a tablet PC where you input your order and the servers just bring it to you. I enjoy the sense of privacy and not being hassled to order or get dessert or get out of there if I’m finished.
Number 4 is me at a Subway:
Me: I’d like the Italian sub.
Subway: What kind of bread do you want?
Me: What? Oh, um… White.
Subway: Do you want olivesonionspickleslettuce?
Subway: All of them?
Me: Do they go on an Italian sub?
Subway: If you want them.
Me: I’M PAYING YOU SO THAT I CAN GET A SANDWICH WITHOUT THINKING ABOUT IT. IF I WANTED TO MAKE MY OWN, I’D GO TO THE SUPERMARKET.
If there’s a queue ahead of you in a restaurant you could always ask for a menu and thumb through it while waiting.
Does anyone know if a waiter/waitress in Japan can support there family by following this profession? Most of the servers in the US cannot.
According to this data, waiters/waitresses make, on average, between 2.9 and 3.2 million yen per year (about 30,000 USD), with waiters evidently making a whopping 20% more than waitresses (though the article attributes this to the fact that more waitresses are part-time, while more waiters are full-time). Where waiters and waitresses are not salaried, they make between 1,000 and 1,500 yen per hour.
Waitstaff do not receive tips in Japan.
That’s a livable wage in most of the US. Your milage may vary depending where you live though.
I didn’t mind making special orders, if I had the means to do so. Asking for an item found nowhere on the menu, so we don’t have the ingredients available, in a venue where “the customer gets what they want” is the company motto was a challenge sometimes. Then guests get the idea that you have a warehouse in back, and every restaurant can wander into it at will.
I’m currently reading Sharing a House with the Never-Ending Man, which is a first-person account of Studio Ghibli’s effort to enter the international market in the 90’s. The author is the American guy hired to lead their international branch, and as such it’s full of tales about cultural differences. There’s a story in it that’s prefaced with praise for Japanese restaurants and how they pride themselves on their orderliness and efficiency. The only way to muck up the system is to ask for changes, which is considered rude anyway because you’re altering what the restaurant’s food is. Anyway, Ghibli has a bunch of Miramax guys out at a fancy restaurant. A guy orders an omelette but wants to sub out the cheddar for Swiss. 30 minutes later it’s obvious the food is delayed. Then a waiter comes out with a tray full of cheeses that he presents to the guy. “These cheeses are all from Switzerland. Which one would you like?” Yeah, it’s just better to point at the picture and take it as is.
While “the customer is King,” is the mantra for B2B sales in Japan, restaurants and other consumer facing business rarely brook special requests.
My tale: ordering lunch at an artisan pizza restaurant, I saw on the menu pepperoni pizza and mushroom pizza. I asked the waitress if I could receive a pizza with pepperoni AND mushrooms on top. She look bewildered and suggested that might be difficult to arrange. I said, surely the pizza maker, whose mise en place included both pepperoni and mushroom, could manage that. She went to the kitchen to inquire whether they could accommodate my outrageous request. She returned to tell me solemnly that, unfortunately, crafting a pepperoni and mushroom pizza was beyond their capabilities. Lesson learned. After that, at every dining establishment I would simple order set #1.
The flip side, Japanese travelers visiting the US are often flummoxed by the need to answer six questions to order something as simple as a burger or sandwich.
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