Traditional Japanese Izakaya with all local people inside might need some courage to walk in. But knowing these how-tos will make it a bit easier for you guys.
1. Being Seated
So once you're inside, they will ask you how many people in your party. They will either tell you it's full, or tell you how many minutes you need to wait.
Then you get seated. Instead of coming to take your order, you will get a wet towel (oshibori) to wipe your hands and a teeny-tiny appetizer (otoshi). Don't be surprised that you get something you didn't order. Izakaya usually have a table charge for few hundred yen per a person and Otoshi in lieu of that.
Before ordering food, many Japanese start off with draft beer. 'Toriaezu nama' is usually the first thing they say. (toriaezu means tentative and nama mean draft.) Of course, it's okay to order anything else too.
Next is the hardest part, ordering food! Many places have English menus nowadays, so ask a server if they have one by saying 'Eigo no menyu wa arimasuka?'
If you have no idea what to order, you can simply ask for 'osusume' which means recommendations. 'Osusume wa (nandesuka)?' Then they will suggest their popular dishes or daily special menu that ingredients are off the market. I usually order daily specials if it's my first time at izakaya.
You still have trouble ordering? Then ask for 'omakase'. This is like a last card for foreigner to get good food at those place. Omakase mean it's all up to chief, so you can tell your budget and they decide food menu for you.
I don't ask for omakase at izakaya unless I'm regular there.
3. Paying the Bill
When you want to pay, you need ask for bill. 'Okaikei onegai-shimasu' in Japanese or 'Check, please' in English both work just fine. Depending on the place, you pay at the table or at the cashier usually at the front.
Don't be nervous. People at Izakaya are usually very friendly and will treat you well. I'll promise you'll have a great time!
If you have comments or questions, write below.