Umami うまみ

Updated: Nov 23, 2021

日本語会話 初級 中級

The word comes with such a savory overtone of mysterious Japanese flavor, doesn’t it? It is a combination of two Japanese words of Umai (delicious in Japanese) and Mi (taste), so the literal meaning of Umami is “delicious taste”. This word has been known globally among foodies and recognized as the fifth taste after sweetness, sourness, bitterness, and saltiness. But not many people realize that the true identity of Umami is glutamic acid also known as MSG (monosodium glutamate). MSG was stigmatized as a chemical ingredient that might cause allergic reactions in some people, and food companies started slapping a “NO MSG” stamp on some of their products. Chinese restaurants also were labeled as serving food that contained MSG, so you often see “NO MSG” disclaimer on their menus, but Japanese restaurants somehow avoided the same stigma. Isn’t that strange? MSG was invented by a Japanese chemist, who eventually started a multi-billion dollar food company, Ajinomoto, that now employs over 30,000 employees. If you look at their web site (ajinomoto.com), the discovery of MSG and its use in their products are openly discussed.


The four major broths used in traditional Japanese food are Konbu (a type of seaweed), Katsuo-bushi (Bonito flakes / Bonito is a type of tuna fish), Iriko (a dried small sardine), and Hoshi-shiitake (dried Shiitake mushroom) broths. Dr. Kikunae Ikeda; the founder of Ajinomoto, identified and isolated the common compound in those broths which is glutamic acid and named it Umami. MSG is a man made glutamic acid. On the spice rack of a typical Japanese household, you likely will find a bottle of Ajinomoto. It instantaneously adds Umami and enhances unique Japanese savor. If you don’t particularly care for Japanese cuisine, your tongue might not find that Umami agrees with you.

umami, konbu, katsuobushi, iriko, shiitake, うまみ、MSG

日本語会話 初級



A: このお味噌汁(みそしる)、おいしいですね〜。


B: おいしいでしょう? 私(わたし)の弟(おとうと)が北海道(ほっかいどう)から送(おく)ってくれた新鮮(しんせん)な昆布(こんぶ)で出汁(だし)をとったんです。


A: 出汁って何ですか


B: 出汁は昆布や鰹節(かつおぶし)煮(に)て作るスープですよ。


A: じゃあ、ビーフやチキンブロスに似(に)ていますね。


B: そうですね。作り方(つくりかた)は同(おな)じかもしれません


A: 昆布からとった出汁を使(つか)って味噌汁(みそしる)を作(つく)るなんて知(し)らなかった。味噌汁を作るって難(むずか)しそうですね。


B: 即席(そくせき)の出汁(だし)があるからそれを使えもっと簡単(かんたん)にできますよ。でも本物(ほんもの)の出汁の方(ほう)が美味(おい)しいと思います。さあさあ、冷(さ)めないうち召(め)し上(あ)がってください。


日本語会話 中級   

*Broken Japanese expressions are used. Identify ”い抜き” expressions.



A: こないだ駅前(えきまえ)の中華料理屋(ちゅうかりょうりや)で、チャーハン食(た)べたんだけど、めちゃくちゃ美味(うま)かった。チャーハンと餃子(ぎょおざ)のセット、最高(さいこう)だったよ。


B: あっ、その店(みせ)知(し)ってる。えっ〜と、店の名前(なまえ)、何だっけ? 香港屋(ほんこんや)だったかな〜? お前(まえ)、最近(さいきん) 中華料理ばかり食(た)べてない?


A: 別(べつ)に毎日(まいにち)食べてるわけじゃないよ。


B: 俺(おれ)も一度(いちど)行(い)ってみたけど、塩(しお)っぽかった化学調味料(かがくちょうみりょう)の味(あじ)も強(つよ)かった。あんなもんしょっちゅう食べてたら体(からだ)にいいはずがない。そういえば、お前、最近ちょっと太(ふと)りぎみじゃない?


A: 余計( よけい)なことを言(い)うなよ。全然(ぜんぜん)太ってなんかいないよ。ちゃんと運動(うんどう)もしてるから太るはずがない。今度(こんど)いっしょに行(い)こうぜ。


B: お断(ことわり)りだね。俺は健康食品(けんこうしょくひん)一本(いっぽん)で行く。 


A: いいよ、じゃあ、一人(ひとり)で行くから。後(あと)で後悔(こうかい)するなよな!


覚えたいことば

お味噌汁(みそしる) n. miso soup, お is a beautifying particle

から p. from

てくれる v. te-form of a verb + てくれる giving favor by doing "te-form" action

って何(なん)ですか an expression to ask unknown word comes before って

鰹節(かつおぶし) n. bonito flakes

煮(に)る v. to boil

似(に)ている v. 似る to look alike +いる state of being

かもしれません may be

なんて p. (N2 level) add to express surprise

知(し)らない v. ない-form of to know

の p. creates a noun clause

難(むずか)しそうだ i-adj 難しい + aux.v. そうだ, seems to be difficult

即席(そくせき) n. instant

使(つか)えば v. conditional form of 使う, to use

簡単(かんたん)に na-adj. easily

の方(ほう)が (Aより)Bの方が 〜 comparison expression. B is better than A. A part is omitted in this sentence.

さあ Interjection. used to urge an action.

冷めない v. ない-form of being cold

うちに p. (N3 level) while. while it is still hot, please eat (in this sentence)

召(め)し上(あ)がる v. respect tone of "to eat"

こないだ n. colloquial form of このあいだ=先日(せんじつ), the other day.

チャーハン n. fried rice. also called 焼き飯(やきめし)

めちゃくちゃ(に) na-adj. insanely

美味(うま)い i-adj. delicious, colloquial. also reads as おいしい

最高(さいこう) n. the best

ばかり p. plentiful of limited thing, compare with だけ

別(べつ)に〜わけじゃない an expression, It doesn't particularly mean that〜

し p. sampling of an action

はずがない はず is a noun to express "certainty". はずがない is certainly not

ぎみ ます-form v. + ぎみ to express tendency

余計な na-adj. unnecessary

全然 adv. usually followed by ない、not at all

なんか n. used to look down on a thing/state that comes before

一本 n. a single decision that comes before.


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