Japanese Restaurant Chains Key Terms

Learn some key terms important to Japanese restaurant chains

There are many different types of Japanese restaurants that are internationally popular. A Benihana-style restaurant, where chefs provide entertainment for customers while cooking teppanyaki style on a grill, is one type of chain. Other Japanese restaurant chains feature sushi and sashimi, prepared by trained chefs. Like most chains, the choice of a stand-alone building or a location in a mall is a consideration of the franchisee and the corporate decision-makers.

Street front or food court

Street front restaurants can be stand-alone restaurant buildings or locations within a block on a busy street. Food court locations in a mall tend to offer less square footage for the actual food preparation area but more seating within the food court. They also usually offer fewer menu selections.

Teppanyaki and hibachi

Teppanyaki and hibachi each refer to a Japanese steakhouse style of cooking that was originally popularized in the US by the Benihana chain, where chefs put on a show by cooking on a metal griddle in front of customers and juggling cooking utensils. In Japanese, "teppan" means iron grill, and "yaki" refers to something grilled. Hibachi is actually a small Japanese grill, but the term "hibachi-style" is applied in the US to teppanyaki cooking.

Sushi and sashimi

Both sushi and sashimi usually use very fresh, uncooked, saltwater fish. Sashimi is used to describe the pieces of raw fish, while sushi refers to rectangular pieces of rice flavored with rice vinegar and topped with slices of raw fish. Sushi also refers to wraps and rolls. Certain Japanese restaurant chains specialize in these items.


While sake (rice wine) may be more famous as Japanese alcohol, shochu is a popular drink in Japan that is becoming known gradually in the US. Shochu is a clear alcohol spirit with about 25% alcohol content. It can be made from corn, rice, sweet potato or buckwheat. The liquid can be mixed into cocktails or consumed by itself.

Sushi Chef Institute

The Sushi Chef Institute trains chefs in the traditional way of preparing sushi. The goal is to create dishes that provide a feast for the eyes as well as the palate. In addition, students are taught the proper handling of raw fish.


Rice is a staple of Japanese cooking, used in many different ways. It can be a side dish to a meal, or used to make mochi (soft rice cakes). Other uses are senbei (rice cracker), sake (rice wine), or in combination with soybeans to make a type of miso.

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