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When dining at Yoshinoya I never know how to ask for the size meal I want.

Their sizes are 並, 大, and 特.

I only know that "大" means big, but it also has two readings so I have no idea whether to ask for "dai" or "ooki". And since the word/character I know for "small" is not included, I assume they are using a similar gimmick to that seen in Western chains where there is no small but only "regular", "medium", "large"... sometimes up to the infamous "venti" (-:

Then again maybe there are various ways of writing "small".

So are these standard words or gimmicky like "venti", what do they mean literally, how do I know which reading to use for each, how would I say them in an order? Are these same sizes used just about everywhere in Japanese restaurants or are there some other terms I should also know?

  • I don't think "small" applies unless you're ordering from a kids' menu. – Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Jun 13 '11 at 4:56
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    Usually (but certainly not always) I find Japanese portions smaller than the sizes I'm used to in Australia, where at least in McDonalds, "small" is still used as a size, and not just on the kids menu. – hippietrail Jun 13 '11 at 4:58
  • That sounds more like glocalization more than anything else; I'm sure you'd find portions in the US quite large, even in a McDonalds. – Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Jun 13 '11 at 5:00
  • Yes American portions are bigger than Australian portions, and European portions are smaller than Australians also. But McDonalds portion sizes seem to be standardized. American McDonalds might have extra portion sizes above what they have in some other countries though, a least for drinks if I recall correctly. – hippietrail Jun 13 '11 at 5:05
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    Yeah, don't ever ask for a "large" soda in the US unless you're ready to put down a bucket... – Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Jun 13 '11 at 5:07
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Although 並(nami), 大(dai) will work in most of the places, others would depend on each restaurant.

  • For Small - 小 (shou), ミニ (mini), 半分 (hanbun), 少なめ (sukuname), S (エス)...

  • For Normal - 並 (nami), 普通 (futsuu), 中(chuu), M (エム)...

  • For Big - 大 (dai), 大盛り (oomori), 多め (oome), L (エル)...

    • For Special Big - 1.5盛 (ittengo mori) (sukiya invented it)
  • For Extra Big - 特盛 (tokumori), 特大 (tokudai)...

  • For Extreme Big - 鬼盛 (oni mori), (超)巨大盛 (chou kyodai mori), バカ盛り (baka mori), 激盛り (geki mori), メガ盛り (mega mori)....

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    Don't forget 鬼盛り, which I see sometimes. :) – deceze Jun 13 '11 at 5:02
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    Nice and exhaustive answer! Now we need something similar for drink sizes ;-) – Dave Jun 13 '11 at 8:23
  • and 2枚盛り for うなぎ – jbcreix Sep 6 '11 at 14:46
  • It seems that, in a ramen shop called 二郎ラーメン, people say 増し or 増し増し for extra vegetable topping. – user458 Dec 19 '11 at 7:38
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For Yoshinoya, it is 並 (nami) and 大(盛り) (oomori) because that is what the servers yell out to the cooks. This has been my experience in Tokyo branches. They didn't have 特 in those days, but 特盛 (tokumori) would be my guess.

You can/could also order it without onions (neginuki), or darker (cooked-down) broth (karai).

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