Even when one orders a complete dinner in a restaurant, one is asked a rapid succession of questions. Japanese may find this troublesome. They may break out into a cold sweat from having to answer all these questions before the meal, only to receive their order, be asked, “How is everything?” and have to respond, “Everything is fine.” Inside, they may be ready to shout, “Just leave me alone!” But the restaurant wants its guests to enjoy a delicious meal, so selecting items to your own taste is inevitable.
When it comes to set courses, the questions are whether you prefer soup or salad, what kind of dressing you want on the salad, what kind of bread you would like, how you would like your meat cooked, and whether you would like vegetables or rice. When you select a full–course meal, you limit confusion over what to choose. You can start from the entrees (meat or fish). When you order, say something like, “I’d like to have the stuffed rainbow trout, please.” One good way is to go to the same restaurant several times (start with a place where you feel comfortable) and learn how what kinds of things they serve. To make an honest confession, even Americans get a little nervous when there are things on the menu that they do not recognize. When that happens, just ask the server, “When is this like?” The better the restaurant, the more likely you are to get a detailed answer.