What is the right way to eat sushi?

.   Eating Sushi can be little intimidating, especially for the first timer. Even sushi-regulars can discover something new about the traditions. While no one will throw you out of the sushi bar for drinking sake with your nigiri, we hope that reading the following guidelines will calm your nerves and help you get the most out of your next visit to a sushi restaurant.

You don't have to restrict yourself to the menu -- ask if there are any seasonal options

You don't have to restrict yourself to the menu. Ask your server if there are any seasonal options available.

Asking "What's fresh?" implies that the chef serves food that's not fresh, so it should probably be avoided.

If you go to the same sushi bar frequently, get to know the chef. If he knows what you like, he may recommend new or special dishes for you to try.

Add wasabi directly to the sushi, and dip your sushi fish side down into the soy sauce

Dip the sushi fish side down into the soy sauce. This will also help prevent the rice from falling apart.

Only use a little soy and wasabi. You want to taste the fresh fish; don't overpower it with salt or heat.

Eat the sliced, pickled ginger between bites — it's there to cleanse your palate, not to flavor the bites.

Greet by bowing rather than shaking hands

Greet others, and show respect, by bowing, not a handshake.

You don't have to initiate a bow, but you should bow in return if someone bows to you.

A few rounds of bowing may occur. Go along with it; it's a sign of respect.

Eat your sushi in one bite, fish side down

Eat sushi fish side down, not fish side up.

Each piece is supposed to be bite-size, but if the piece of sushi is too big, it's OK to take two bites.

If you do eat sushi in two bites, don't put the second half back on your plate or the communal plate.

You can use your fingers to eat your sushi, but use your chopsticks for the sashimi

It's OK to use your fingers for most sushi! But, use your chopsticks for sashimi.

Don't mix your wasabi in your soy sauce. Add a little dab directly to the sushi if you want a little more heat.

When you take sushi from a shared plate, use the back end of your chopsticks — the end you don't put in your mouth.

Don't store your chopsticks by sticking them in your rice

Don't store your chopsticks in your rice. This is how rice is offered to the deceased.

If you are not provided with a chopstick holder, rest your chopsticks on the edge of your plate with the tips pointed to the left.

Placing your chopsticks across your soy sauce bowl indicates that you have finished eating.

Know the difference between sushi, hand rolls, norimake and uramaki

There are two main types of sushi — sushi rolls ("rolls" for short) and nigiri sushi ("sushi" for short).

Nigiri sushi is what most of us think of when we talk about sushi. It's a piece of fish (or other ingredient, like egg or octopus) on top of an oblong ball of rice.

Norimake are rolls that have seaweed on the outside. Uramaki are rolls that have rice on the outside. Temaki are hand rolls that come in the shape of a cone, not a cylinder.

Know your non-sushi items too, like sashimi and tempura

Sashimi and tempura are popular non-sushi items.

Sashimi is just a piece of raw fish without any rice.

Tempura is seafood (usually shrimp) or vegetables that have been battered and deep fried.

It's OK to drink your sushi -- no need for a spoon

It's OK to drink your miso soup. Use the spoon or chopsticks to eat any larger pieces.

Traditionally, miso soup is served after the meal. In most Western restaurants, however, it is served first. If you want to go the traditional route, let your server know ahead of time.

Try the hot and cold versions of sake and don't drink it with your sushi

Sake is a rice-based alcoholic beverage that can be served hot or cold. Typically, higher quality sake is served cold.

Sake is traditionally enjoyed with sashimi (not sushi), or by itself, before or after the meal.

When drinking sake with others, serve your companions, not yourself. They, in turn, should serve you.


Answer by  calcutta (168)

One of my favorite things to do at a sushi restaurant is to eat a sliver of pickled ginger and immediately follow that with some cold Japanese beer: it creates a tingling and sweet sensation that is surprisingly pleasant.

Reply by penrose (235):
One more vote for the ginger-with-beer-chaser! I love telling my friends about this - they invariably get a kick out of it.  add a comment
Reply by hefito (226):
I totally agree! I've found Asahi Light paired with the ginger is the best combo!  add a comment

Answer by  Kat76 (475)

There is really no "right" way to eat sushi, but if you are nervous, your best bet is to pick up the sushi with chop sticks, dip the sushi roll in soy sauce, and then stick the sushi in your mouth and chew. You may want to practice using chop sticks at home, before you eat sushi out in public.

posted by Anonymous
agreed, but if one is uncomfortable with chopsticks, it is probably better to use fingers. Chopsticks are an unnatural dexterity that can only be learned, like riding a bike. If you are uncomfortable with chopsticks, always order them with Chinese take out and learn in front of the tv.  add a comment
posted by Anonymous
Although using your fingers *is* acceptable with sushi rolls, it's absolutely *not* with a great deal of the rest of the meal. Some places have "learner's chopsticks" on hand for novices, but they really aren't that difficult to master. Why wouldn't you want to immerse yourself in the experience anyway?  add a comment

Answer by  Dana46 (2345)

Eating sushi like a pro is easy. Simply take up the piece of sushi in your chopsticks, if you like dip it (once! ) in the bowl of soy sauce and/or wasabi (careful, its spicy! ) and place the entire piece in your mouth, fish side down.

posted by Anonymous
You may have an instinct to think it rude to shove the entire piece in your mouth at once, but trying to eat only half of it often invites disaster. In societies like this, putting enormous pieces of food in your mouth isn't rude, but eating fast or noisy it.  add a comment

Answer by  SriLanka (264)

I love the idea of taking sushi from a community platter with the backside of the chopsticks. It seems like such a warm and generous maneuver... the Japanese have all these little nuanced gestures figured out - very impressive!


Answer by  jlaird (190)

Everyone mixes their wasabi and soy. I guess I see why you shouldn't. Plus, they put wasabi between the fish and the rice, and too much wasabi, like too much soy sauce, is taking away from the delicacy of the fish. I'm gonna try it next time.

posted by Anonymous
I don\'t really see why not. They don\'t give a reason. Being untraditional is not a good enough reason for me! I mix it because I like wasabi but I find it overpowering on its own - the soy dilutes it.  add a comment
posted by Anonymous
why not? becase if you have too much the white rice is no longer \"clean\" tasting and more than a touch of soy means you don\'t enjoy the subtle fish flavor \r\nI mean you don\'t want to taste the salt and pepper *more* than the egg do you?  add a comment
posted by Anonymous
I\'m confused, b/c when I was in Japan, the family I stayed with mixed their wasabi and soy sauce. Is that something that should stay strictly at home?  add a comment
posted by Anonymous
Just because you don't comprehend the reason for etiquette doesn't mean it shouldn't apply. In this case, mixing wasabi in the soy adds it to everything you dip, whether called for or not. That would indicate no appreciation for the subtle fish flavors, and how they differ. that's why.  add a comment
posted by Anonymous
Some true Japanese chefs would kick you out if you put wasabi in your "soy seasoning" (soy sauce should not be used as a sauce) Japanese people thrive on natural taste, if they do use soy it is tarmarhi (wheat free soy)  add a comment

Answer by  mangosteen (272)

I have been to sushi restaurants more times than I can count, and I always put sushi in my mouth rice-side down... I am not sure if fish-side down will be better, but I'm sure it will be different - can't wait to try.


Answer by  catsaresilly (7)

This is a great little tutorial, answers a lot of my questions. Also, the illustrations are wonderful!


Answer by  notorious (249)

Eating with your hands is great news! I've taken my parents to eat sushi only to be turned off because they can't master chopsticks. The hands option eliminates that. We'll all have to eat with our hands though so they don't feel like the only ones.


Answer by  Anonymous

I actually eat sushi for the combination of flavors of the wasabi, soy sauce, rice, nori and fish, and yes, I get rolls. I think it's ridiculous to assume that people only eat it for the fish flavor and none of the others. The more burn the better!


Answer by  Anonymous

There is no right/correct way - perhaps there is a tradition, but even that gets bent by your average person eating out, japanese or not. As to condiments - why should sushi be any more sacrosanct than other food that receives salt, pepper, ketchup, whatever. It's personal taste. Who cares?


Answer by  Anonymous

Some things correct, some things soooo wrong. Tempura is not deep fried (unless its bad tenpura); simply put, in deep frying the food is immersed in oil, when you make tenpura it floats on top. And when eating sushi you won't be served a bowl of rice. Of course if

posted by Anonymous
I wonder what you think "deep fried" means.  add a comment

Answer by  Cubberley (69)

I really like these drawings! I would love to show these to my second-grade teacher who always pressured me to color within the lines!

Reply by Sikkim (65):
After reading the whole page, I just realized that you can click on the images for a slideshow with larger views of each illustration.  add a comment

Answer by  Malinovsky (71)

I am guilty of poking the chopsticks vertically into my bowl of rice; a bowlful of sticky rice just seems to call out for my chopsticks, but now that I think about it, it does seem a little uncouth.

Reply by Dobrinj (21):
I think there are two levels of egrigiousness here. The lower level is what is shown in the illustration above, with the chopsticks poked into the rice, but resting on the edge of the bowl. The much worse "violation" is to position them vertically, like skis in snow.  add a comment

Answer by  charlesravndal (4)

I like this! I didn't know there's a right way to eat sushi and I am loving the illustration!


Answer by  Anonymous

If the chef doesn't specifically advise soy sauce, I don't add it, dip sushi in it, or even let it wallow. Same goes for Wasabi. He's the artist, not me, and listening to his advice has actually made for better sushi experiences.

posted by Anonymous
I can be quite sparing with these.Yellowfin for example, I eat plain and almost melt into the floor every time.  add a comment

Answer by  Centrifugal (69)

People who dunk the rice part into the soy sauce bowl and drown their sushi is one of my pet peeves. These sushi chefs train for years to put together amazing taste combinations, and then people drown it all out with salty soy sauce - a tiny dip is enough!

Reply by quadratic (73):
I once went out to sushi with my coworkers and one of the guys literally poured full-sodium (not light) soy sauce right from the bottle all over his sushi rolls... I am not sure if he could taste anything amidst all of that salt!  add a comment

Answer by  Anonymous

What if your roll pieces are too large -- can you eat them in multiple bites too? Don't they fall apart? Or are you always supposed to eat sushi rolls in one bite, regardless of the size?

posted by Anonymous
bite it, but continue pinching it and it will not fall apart. Try to trap all th stuff inside and go for bite number 2 when you are ready.  add a comment
posted by Anonymous
2 bites and trying to hold it in between doesn't work on rolls with advocado in... that stuff is slippery and squidges out every time!  add a comment

Answer by  Anonymous

Really liked this... easy to read and the pics are pleasing to the eye :)

posted by Anonymous
Much of the point of sushi is the texture of the fish, that\'s why you eat it with fish side on your tongue, to appreciate the texture as well as the flavour. Agree too much soy/wasabi \"soup\" rather misses the point, overpowers all the subtle flavours  add a comment

Answer by  Anonymous

Funnily enough, I've eaten sushi with Japanese people who mix the soy and the wasabi directly, and then usually alternate between using it and not using it, so you're getting both the true flavor and the additions you want. There's no 'right' - it's preference.


Answer by  Anonymous

Put the garbage in the bin and go eat real food. Raw fish indeed :-(


Answer by  Anonymous

if you really want to suprise the sushi chef..DO NOT USE soy sauce. Most chefs serve it to you the way it should be eaten. SAVOR the fish!


Answer by  Anonymous

this was really helpful for my homework research task. :)

posted by Anonymous
yup  add a comment
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