We Have A Guide On How To Eat Your Sushi Right

Eat like you're Japanese!

If you've loved sushi all your life or just recently was introduced to its wonders, you should know that the best way to enjoy it is to go traditional. After all, the Japanese have mastered not just making sushi, but also the best way to eat it so it's best to honor their practices and mimic their techniques.

Another important reason to master eating sushi is that it is good manners. It's a good way to show your respect and avoid offending their sensibilities. It's good to know sushi etiquette, especially if you're going to be visiting Japan.

Here's your guide to eating sushi, wherever you are.

How to Use Your Chopsticks 

Don't rub your chopsticks together, as that's considered rude.
Illustrator Jasper Castro

Chopstick Rule #1: Just use it.

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Don't rub your chopsticks together to remove the splinters-this is considered disrespectful because a good restaurant would not provide low-quality chopsticks.

Maximize your chopstick use through this trick.
Illustrator Jasper Castro

Chopstick rule #2: Chopsticks are your serving chopsticks, too.

When sharing a plate with friends, use the other end of your chopsticks to serve yourself.

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Incense sticks are traditionally used for funerals. You don't want your innocent sushi meal resembling a funeral, right?
Illustrator Jasper Castro

Chopstick rule #3: Put it down right.

Don't stick your chopsticks in your bowl! This makes them resemble incense sticks, which is rude at the dining table and brings bad luck. Instead, when you're not using your chopsticks, rest the tapered ends on the small ceramic holder provided.

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Place your chopsticks on top of the soy sauce parallel to you. This means you are done eating.
Illustrator Jasper Castro

Chopstick rule #4: Position chopsticks when done.  

Finally, when you're done with your meal, place the chopsticks over the soy sauce dish parallel to you.

There's a right way to eat each kind of sushi. Above, clockwise from the bottom left: salmon nigiri, tuna sashimi, tuna sushi roll, tamago nigiri, and roe temaki.
Illustrator Jasper Castro

The Two Main Rules of Eating Sushi

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The general rule to eating sushi is to eat it in one bite (except for temaki, of course)! Every roll or piece is perfectly made to have every component for the perfect flavor and texture explosion in your mouth. Think of sushi as a piece of art: you can't enjoy it fully if you don't take it in all at once.

Another rule is not to add too much wasabi to the soy sauce-it dulls the senses and you'll be less able to appreciate the fish this way.

How to Eat Each Type of Sushi Properly

Now, let's go through the different ways to eat sushi depending on the type of sushi you're having.

You can eat it with your hands! Just make sure your hands are clean.
Illustrator Jasper Castro

1 Rolled Sushi or Maki

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If you're not too skilled at using chopsticks, it's okay to use your fingers to pick up the sushi. In fact, this is how they traditionally eat their rolled sushi in Japan. Lightly dip one end of the sushi with soy sauce.

Some nigiri sushi are already served brushed with soy sauce. If so, skip the seasoning!
Illustrator Jasper Castro

2 Nigiri

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Nigiri consists of two or more components. The main components are the sliced fish which goes on top of pressed, sushi rice. Usually, there would be a touch of wasabi between rice and sushi. Some iterations of nigiri have a small piece of nori encircling the middle.

Don't let that nigiri fall apart on you by eating it the right way.
Illustrator Jasper Castro
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Here's how to eat your nigiri without it falling apart:

  • 1 Using your chopsticks, push the nigiri sideways on your platter.
  • 2 Grab the nigiri with your chopsticks, one stick pressing against the top of the fish.
  • 3 Turn the nigiri upside down and lightly dip the side with the fish (not the rice) in the soy sauce.
  • 4 Place it in your mouth so the fish touches your tongue.
You can't go wrong eating your sashimi.
Illustrator Jasper Castro

3 Sashimi

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Eat using chopsticks or dip into soy sauce or add more wasabi.

Don't put that temaki down! Finish it in just a few bites using your hands.
Illustrator Jasper Castro

4 Temaki

Eat temaki right away to ensure that the nori is crisp from start to finish. Eat with your hands, not on a plate, nor with chopsticks!

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Now you know how to eat at a Japanese restaurant and eat your favorite Japanese food without offending anyone. What do we think is the best way to master eating sushi? Practice, of course! So go straight to your nearest sushi buffet!

Article was published in the August 2013 issue of Yummy magazine. Additional text and illustration by Jasper Castro.

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