Etiquette When Dining Sushi

A Few Ways to Better Enjoy Sushi

Dining should be enjoyable and rules set for dining do not intend to make the process rigid or humdrum. Certain customs are designed to help make meals an enjoyable endeavor. For example, dining on sushi. There are rules worth following not for anything else, but serve as guidelines to help you taste sushi the way it was intended and have an enjoyable experience while you do.

Entering a sushi restaurant, you are bound to hear “irasshaimase!” It’s to welcome you and show that they’re enthusiastic about you coming into the restaurant. You respond with a smile and a happy hello, and think of this as opening a dialogue with the chef. It is good to start light and end with heavy. Try to sit at the sushi bar rather than at a table. First order sashimi, then nigiri and maki. Eat your sushi in the order the chef presents it to you. And don’t order sushi to go.

The benefit of eating sushi with fingers is it enables you to feel the texture, enhancing your sensory understanding of sushi. Holding the nigiri delicately between your thumb and forefinger also helps keep the fish and rice together, and chopsticks might just split them. Fingers are alright to use if you are not comfortable with chopsticks. Don’t be embarrassed to ask if you’re in a more formal or traditional setting. However, the chef should be honored that you want to know how he thinks his food is best enjoyed.

Traditionally, try your best to eat your sushi in a single bite, likewise with sashimi, nigiri sushi, and maki rolls. Eating sushi, just do your best to keep it all together and appreciate each of the ingredients at once.

If you like a little extra wasabi on your nigiri, use your chopsticks to put a bit of wasabi on top. Just don’t overdo it, not only because the chef has already put wasabi into the nigiri, but also because sushi is meant to be delicate and its flavor shouldn’t be overpowered.

Regarding soy sauce, don’t overfill your cup, as wasting soy sauce is taboo in Japan. You can always add more later. At high-end restaurants, don’t drown your fish in soy sauce. A touch is okay, but turn your sushi on its side to lift it, and then dip it fish-side down. This way, the rice doesn’t soak up all the soy sauce. Know that the chef’s sushi rice is a source of his pride.

Remember over-flavoring your food could be interpreted by the chef as an insult. So if a sushi piece already has soy sauce in it, like unagi (eel) and saba (mackerel), better not use soy sauce or other condiment, or at least be discreet. Finally, don’t place ginger on top of your sushi. Pickled ginger is meant as a palate cleanser, and should be enjoyed between pieces.

Enjoying Sushi in Seattle

Sure there are rules when dining on sushi and we are of tradition preparing your sushi. Still, our team at I Love Sushi in Seattle, prioritizes your enjoyment and pleasure of your dining experience.