Sushi Etiquette 101

How do beginners eat sushi?

To begin with, there is no wrong way to eat sushi. The goal of eating is to relax and take pleasure in your food, not to impress others. Since every sushi restaurant is unique, your setup may differ slightly from the one we’ve outlined below. But when it comes to eating sushi, there are a few unspoken guidelines that every sushi chef is aware of.

You will be served a plate with your choice of rolls or sushi. You will also be provided chopsticks, as well as a bottle of soy sauce, and you may be given an additional plate for any appetizers. Sushi is normally eaten with chopsticks, but eating with your hands is permitted. Nobody will judge you for using a fork if you don’t know how to use chopsticks or don’t feel comfortable doing so, so don’t be concerned. You can probably order some extras or a combination meal with extras like egg rolls, miso soup, or a salad with ginger dressing if you go to a sushi restaurant for lunch or dinner. The restaurant will determine this.

Read more: Noob’s Guide to Sushi


What does ‘balancing the flavors’ mean?

Wasabi is related to horseradish in flavor and potency, but not in the sense that hot peppers are spicy. It has a sinus-clearing burn and heat, but it disappears quickly. Many people who want an extra kick mix some wasabi with soy sauce, but more on that later.

The pickled ginger, on the other hand, serves a distinct purpose. Pickled ginger has a very mild taste and a relaxing flavor, which can help you get beyond the horseradish burn and also clears away the flavor from your last sushi roll, ready you for the following item.


Should I use my hands or chopsticks?

The majority of people will use chopsticks to eat their sushi. In the West, this is the most popular technique because most people dislike eating with their hands. Chopsticks are also hygienic because they prevent you from spilling rice and raw fish on your plate, glass, and other items on the table.

Eating sushi with your hands, on the other hand, is a traditional manner of sushi consumption, especially for classic sushi meals like nigiri. Sashimi is traditionally eaten with chopsticks, although it can also be eaten with your hands. Again, this is a matter of personal preference. And, as previously said, there is nothing wrong with eating sushi with a fork. It’s not customary, but if it’s your desire, no one will criticize you.


Sushi Etiquette

And lastly, here are some of the proper sushi etiquette that you need to not be a tool at an authentic sushi bar or any proper sushi bar for that matter.

  • Be considerate of the restaurant’s ambiance and volume level.
  • Never point with your chopsticks at anything or anyone.
  • Use the blunt, higher end of your chopsticks—the end that has not yet touched your mouth—to transfer food from one plate to another for your guests.
  • Avoid using your chopsticks for play.
  • Don’t use flash when taking photos.
  • Go outside and converse when taking a call. Prior to getting up from your chair, apologize to the chef (so he knows that you are stepping away and he can hold the next course).
  • Feel free to ask the chef questions about the cuisine to show that you are interested: “Where is this fish from?” “When is the usual season?” “How else is it usually prepared?” Most chefs like diners who take a genuine interest in their food.
  • It is perfectly acceptable to eat sushi with your hands. Sushi started off as finger food.
  • It is equally acceptable to eat sushi with chopsticks also. Don’t squeeze the sushi too hard; handle it gently with care.
  • Both sashimi and sushi must be eaten in one bite. If the piece is too big, do not be afraid to ask the chef to cut it in half for you (but most of the time it’s already cut into bite-sized pieces for you).
  • Do not disassemble the sushi!
  • If you use the tiny soy sauce dish, add a little sauce to it as needed. Avoid overfilling.
  • Wasabi should not be added to the soy sauce dish.
  • The majority of sushi chefs will top their creations with nikiri shoyu, sauce, salt, or other suitable toppings. As a result, you might not even need soy sauce dip in your sushi. If you’re unsure, ask the chef.
  • Apply a small amount of wasabi directly to the piece of fish before eating it as sashimi. With your chopsticks, take the fish and lightly dunk one end into the soy sauce. The flavor of the fish can be improved with just a little sauce.
  • When consuming sushi, turn it over with your fingers or chopsticks so that the fish side is in close proximity to your tongue.
  • Eat your sushi as soon as it is ready, fresh. Don’t let it sit unattended for too long. With time, the fish’s flavor starts to deteriorate.
  • Even a single grain of rice should not be left on your plate because it is rude to do so.
  • A palate cleanser is gari or pickled ginger. It ought to be consumed in between bites, not with your sashimi or sushi.


Is it disrespectful to dip sushi in soy sauce?

It is improper to use too much soy sauce, as this would upset the delicate flavor harmony. Trust your chefs, and refrain from drowning your sushi in soy sauce because they usually work hard to achieve the ideal balance between enhancing the flavors of the fish and the texture of the rice.

Related: The Science Behind Sushi’s Addictiveness


Don’t mix soy sauce and wasabi also

Soy sauce and wasabi have a natural affinity, and it’s fascinating that the two can collaborate to create something incredible. The act of combining these two ingredients, however, is not traditional sushi etiquette.


Is it rude to eat sushi in one bite?

No. Sashimi and sushi must both be consumed in a single bite. Do not be afraid to ask the chef to cut the portion in half for you if it is too large (although a proper sushi chef would adjust the size of each piece according to the customer)


Is eating sushi with a fork rude?

You’ll be offered chopsticks with your meal, but if you’re not comfortable with them, you can request a fork instead. That being said, don’t be afraid to try: it will demonstrate to your guest that you are a good sport. Sushi can also be eaten with your fingers, however, sashimi should be eaten with chopsticks or a fork.