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I was at a fancy restaurant that served kaiseki (懐石) and I wanted to ask the chef

How long have you worked at this restaurant?

I was about to use the word レストラン, but I knew that wasn't the right word. I do know that Japanese tend to add 〜や after food to denote "a place that sells ~" like 寿司屋 or うなぎや. But that doesn't apply to 懐石.

So what are the words for the following?

  • Western-style restaurants: レストラン
  • Cafe: カフェ?
  • Cafeteria: ?
  • Generic Japanese-style restaurants: ?

Or any other useful words for eating locations.

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    (お)店 would have done the job perfectly.
    – aguijonazo
    Commented Oct 11, 2022 at 17:09

2 Answers 2

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(この/こちらの)お店 is the most suitable and natural word in this context. It can be used safely regardless of whether the restaurant is causal or expensive, Japanese-style or Western-style.

You can also use 料理店 or 懐石料理店 (see: What is the difference between 食堂 , レストラン, 料理店, 料理屋 and 飲食店?) if you really want to be specific. If you know the restaurant is categorized as 料亭 (the most expensive type), you can use it, too. But in my opinion, (この)お店 is the most natural when you just want to say "(this) restaurant" generically without worrying about details. See this answer, too.

(お is a "beautifying" prefix which isn't strictly necessary, but most people keep it when they want to speak politely.)

EDIT: "Generic Japanese-style restaurants" is perhaps 和食のお店 or 和食屋, but people usually don't imagine sushi restaurants, unagi-ya and ramen shops with this word. If you want to refer to everything like these, you may have to say 日本の料理を出すお店全般 or something.

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"Cafeteria" on its own is simply 食堂, but a cafeteria-style restaurant could also just be called ファミリーレストラン (with maybe a 食べ放題 at the beginning).

A Japanese-style restaurant is (most?) commonly お食事処. I have never been to one, so I can't describe it from experience, but these probably serve the more traditional Japanese food. This chigai.site entry says they can often serve 懐石料理, so this may be closest to what you're looking for.

And while definitely not the word for your context, there are also 立ち[食]{ぐ}い "restaurants", though these are often little more stalls/storefronts that are standing-room only (hence the name), accommodating little more than a few customers at a time. #IYKYK

One final thought as related to you question: keep it simple! Instead of fumbling for the correct word for "restaurant", why not simply ask the chef, "How long have you worked here?". My ¥2...

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  • 「料理店」もありますが、正直詳しいニュアンスはわかりません。特に外国の食事を作るお店(中華料理店とか)の場合に使われる気がします。
    – Angelos
    Commented Oct 11, 2022 at 17:53
  • An お食事処 is more casual than that page suggests, and it doesn’t normally serve 懐石料理.
    – naruto
    Commented Oct 11, 2022 at 21:05

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