Yum, tasty, delicious! How do you express your love of food in Japanese? Here are 10 different ways to say something’s delicious in Japanese and the proper use for each.
1. Oishii (美味しい)
Oishii translates to delicious or tasty and is the most common word to describe deliciousness in Japanese. Being the most common and simplest term, you’ll often hear this term being used a lot by foreigners (non-native) Japanese speakers. Since it’s a casual way of saying delicious, using it in formal situations is often frowned upon in Japan.
2. Umai (うまい)
A very casual and common way to say delicious in Japanese is umai. You’ll hear it used by boys more than girls. Since this is a casual term, it’s not recommended for use in formal situations, like having lunch with your boss or any other authority. It’s a really simple way to let your friends know that you think something is delicious, but remember, it’s rude in formal situations.
3. Maiu (まいう～)
Maiu is very similar to umai and most often heard by celebrities on TV. It’s a slang version of the word umai, where the letters have just been reordered to Maiu in order to make it sound funnier. And like umai, it’s completely acceptable to use this word freely with your close friends, but never in formal situations.
4. Bimi (美味)
Another word for delicious in Japanese, although you’ll mostly read this word instead of hearing it in everyday speech. It’s most commonly seen in flyers, commercials, and other written advertisements for food. Unlike the terms we’ve seen so far, this word has a strong impact when written than said, so if you’re trying to advertise food in Japanese, bimi is your go-to word for delicious!
5. Zeppin (絶品)
Zeppin is another advertising word you’ll often see on food advertisements and TV commercials. It translates to roughly mean that something is so wonderful that everyone is impressed by it. Zeppin can be used in both formal and informal situations. When used in a conversation, you would say Zeppin desu ne! (絶品ですね) and follow up with why you think it’s impressive, especially if you’re in a formal situation. And the next time you pass by a Japanese restaurant and see the word Zeppin, check it out, it means their food should be impressively delicious!
6. Aji (味)
Aji literally means “taste” in Japanese. However, it is often used when describing the taste of food in Japanese. For example, a few common phrases that use is are Jouhin na aji desu ne (上品な味ですね) “it has an elegant taste” and Fukai ajiwai desu ne (深い味わいですね) “it has a rich flavor,” followed by an explanation of why you feel that way. These are more “adult” centered phrases of describing your food and often heard in formal situations.
7. Hoppe ga ochiru (ほっぺが落ちる)
This is a more traditional phrase for exclaiming something is delicious in Japanese. It roughly translates to, “this is so delicious, my cheeks will fall off!” The meaning also changes depending on who you ask. Some people say its origin is based on the way your cheeks look when you eat a lot of delicious food: so full, they’ll fall off! Other says that when you eat a lot of tasty food, your body feels looser than usual. Whatever the origin, it’s a funny way to express your yummy food. The downside it, you rarely hear this phrase being used in Japan anymore. Maybe you’ll hear it from the older generation if you’re lucky!
8. Kuse ni naru (癖になる)
This phrase is fairly common in both real life and on TV. The phrase literally means “becoming a habit,” but when used in regards to food, it means that the food is so tasty that you’ll form a habit of eating it a lot. Simply put, it means the food is addicting! The more common way you’ll hear this is Yamitsuki ni naru (病み付きになる) which means “addictive.” Try using this phrase next time you find yourself eating your favorite food.
9. Saiko (最高)
Saiko translates to “the best!” It’s not a food-only phrase, but you’ll often hear it in a bard after everyone finishes their first round of drinks. But it’s not only for drinks, you’ll often hear people say it to express food is the best. This is more of an informal word, but is also acceptable to say in formal situations as siako desu. Whatever the case, if the food or drink you had makes you happy, say saiko!
10. Siawase (幸せ)
Lastly we have siawese, which means happiness. However, you’ll often hear girls use this term in place of saiko to refer to food as the best. It’s mostly used when referring to sweets and candy. It more or less is a way to express that the food is so good, it makes you happy!
Let’s review the 10 ways to say Delicious in Japanese:
1. Oishii (美味しい) means tasty, used informally in speech
2. Umai (うまい) means delicious, used informally in speech
3. Maiu (まいう～) is slang for delicious, used informally in speech
4. Bimi (美味) means delicious, commonly used in food advertisements
5. Zeppin (絶品) means impressively tasty, used in food advertisements
6. Aji (味) means taste, used in formal speech phrases
7. Hoppe ga ochiru (ほっぺが落ちる) is a traditional phrase for “so tasty, my cheeks will fall off”
8. Kuse ni naru (癖になる) means addictive food
9. Saiko (最高) means it’s the best, used informally or formally as Seiko desu
10. Siawase (幸せ) is used when the food tastes so good, it makes you happy
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