March 02, 2005


Today's New York Times (p. F11) has a review of a Japanese restaurant called Gari. It describes the food and atmosphere in some detail, but doesn't explain the name, so I will.

/gari/, usually written がり, is the special term used for red pickled ginger when it is served with sushi. The ordinary term is 紅生姜 or in kana べにしょうが /beni sjo:ga/ "red ginger". When you buy pickled ginger in a store the container is labelled 紅生姜, but when you eat it in a sushi shop you call it /gari/.

Ginger isn't the only thing that has a special name in a sushi shop. Green tea is normally called 煎茶 せんちゃ /sentja/, but in a sushi shop the special term 上がり /agari/ is used. Strictly speaking, /agari/ means "freshly brewed green tea", but you hear it mostly in sushi shops. /agari/ is a word with quite a few meanings. The most generic is "rise, slope, ascent", but among other things it is the term used to describe the death of fish and insects.

Posted by Bill Poser at March 2, 2005 07:34 PM