Most people who experience restaurants in Japan are impressed by the service. However, the restaurant industry is very different from the West. It's possible to experience culture shock at a Japanese restaurant.
There are 7 things you should be aware of.
1. No TipsIn Japan, a tip is considered demeaning. It's inappropriate to tip at a restaurant. Amazingly, this doesn't decrease the level of service at all. You'll find that Japanese waiters and waitresses are extremely diligent.
2. SumimasenSince there are no tips — there's no reason for you to be tied to a single waiter. At most Japanese restaurants, anyone can help you any time.
If you need something you're expected to summon staff by saying "sumimasen" (excuse me). In fact you can yell it if you need to.
Many people enjoy this because staff are at your beck and call. No need to wait for your waiter to notice you need something. Japanese service is so fast you'll find that you're rarely waiting at all.
3. Service DifferencesSince you're not tied to one waiter — the waiter isn't necessarily going to remember what you're drinking etc. When your server brings your food he/she will ask who the dish is for.
4. Special OrdersJapanese restaurants don't often allow customers to request special orders. If you want extra tomatoes — the answer may be no.
Want to order a cocktail that's not on the menu? You're probably out of luck.
There's also no custom of separate checks. Customers have to figure it out amongst themselves.
5. FriendlinessJapanese service is friendly. However,staff at restaurants in Japan are unlikely to ask you personal questions.
In Japan, the goal is service excellence — not making friends. To put it another way, servers assume that customers would prefer to socialize with their dining companions than with restaurant staff.
6. Table Charges and LimitsMany restaurants (especially izakaya) have a custom of charging a per person charge. This is known as a table charge (otooshi). It's only charged to persons who order alcohol. When a restaurant charges otooshi, you get a small dish with your first drink.
Urban restaurants and izakaya often have a 2 hour time limit during peak hours. They should inform you of the limit before seating you. They will take your last order after an hour and a half.
7. LoudIn Japan good service is loud service.
Japanese restaurants and izakaya can be incredibly loud. Every time a new customer walks in the staff will yell irasshaimase!! When customers leave staff yell arigatou gozaimashita!!. The customers yell sumimasen!! every time they need something.
You may find this is fun. Restaurants in Japan are usually lively.
The Japanese Service ExperienceDespite, the differences — most people enjoy Japanese service.
The first time you yell sumimasen and a waiter runs across the room to help you — you'll realize that there's something special about service in Japan.