Delicious food is something that can connect people to different cultures from all around the world – despite any language barriers! Through tasting a particular region’s cuisine, you can feel more connected to the culture and its people.
Japanese cuisine has become quite popular all over the world. From sushi and ramen to teppanyaki!
However, nothing beats the taste of a Japanese dish from an authentic Japanese restaurant in the country itself.
Now, how would you express such deliciousness in the Japanese language?
You may have heard the first term on the list: oishii, which is by far the most widely used Japanese word for ‘delicious’.
You will hear this word being thrown around so much in fact that we decided to give you a few other expressions to choose from in order to avoid sounding like a broken record!
Common ways to say ‘delicious’ in Japanese
Oishii (美味しい / おいしい) is definitely the most common way to describe something delicious in Japanese. If you are in any way familiar with Japanese, there is a good chance that you know this word already!
The kanji compound is made up of the character for ‘beautiful’ (美) and ‘taste’ (味).
You can use this word to describe both food and drinks which are tasty. You will find this word being put to use an awful lot, so let’s look at some other words you can use in order to avoid repetition!
Umai (うまい, sometimes 美味い) is a close second to oishii. Although you can use umai to describe someone as ‘skilled’ or ‘talented’, it also can be used to describe yummy food!
It is a bit more casual than oishii, and has become very popular in young people’s lingo.
Note: Try not to confuse umai with umami!
Umami is another food related term you may be familiar with as it has been adopted into the English vocabulary as of late.
Umami (うま味 / うまみ) is one of the five tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami. It is often described as a ‘meaty’ or ‘savory’ taste and is included in the list of main tastes to ensure that we get enough protein in our diet!
Ii aji (いい味 / いいあじ) is exactly what it says: ‘good taste’! Ii (良い / いい) is a super useful adjective meaning ‘good’ and we know that the kanji 味 (pronounced aji in this instance) means ‘taste’.
It is more of an objective description of good tasting food/drinks, rather than an exclamation of deliciousness such as the previous two phrases.
Common expressions for tasty food
Hoppe ga ochiru
My cheeks are falling off (because it’s so tasty!)
Hoppe ga ochiru (ほっぺが落ちる / ほっぺがおちる) is not an expression which has an English equivalent, so it may sound a little strange at first!
Directly translated, it means ‘my cheeks are falling off’. It is an older, traditional phrase which implies that the food is just so delicious, your cheeks may even fall off!
You can definitely surprise and impress a Japanese person by using this idiom at the dinner table!
Kuse ni naru
I will become addicted
Kuse ni naru (癖になる / くせになる) is another roundabout expression which conveys the same sentiment of ‘delicious’.
Kuse means ‘habit’, so the phrase directly translates to ‘to become a habit’ or ‘to become addicted’. It implies that the food is so tasty that you may get hooked on it!
In English, we have the similar utterance ‘I could eat this all day’.
Fuumi ga yoi
We know that 良い (pronounced ii or yoi) means ‘good’ while fuumi (風味 / ふうみ) means ‘taste’ or ‘flavour’. This phrase is more straightforward in meaning, translating as ‘good flavour’.
It is not so common to use this expression when eating everyday meals, even though it may be delicious. It is another kind of objective, factual observation of the taste of the dish and is usually reserved for describing food in a special setting, such as a food review of a dish on TV.
Other Japanese words for ‘delicious’
Bimi (美味 / びみ), although directly meaning ‘beautiful taste’, is not really a word we may use in everyday conversation to describe something as tasty. It is more used for commercial purposes, for example in an advertisement or on food packaging.
So while you may not voice this term, it is useful to know, especially when looking for a good restaurant to eat at. If you see the word bimi on the store’s sign you can expect to find something appetising!
Zeppin (絶品 / ぜっぴん) translates as ‘masterpiece’ or ‘exquisite item’. It is another word often used in advertising to emphasise the deliciousness of a dish.
If a food item is described using the word zeppin, it implies that it’s such a delicacy that it exceeds all expectations!
Hannah is a half Irish/half Japanese girl living in Ireland. Her love for Japan and the Japanese language led her to studying languages and translation in university where she specialised in Japanese. She spent a year studying abroad at Rikkyo University in Tokyo. In her free time, Hannah enjoys using her sewing machine to upcycle clothes and create new pieces!