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Sushi Etiquette

Sushi etiquette is really nothing special. Hopefully, many people won’t refrain from going to sushi bars because it seems that there is this mysterious thing called sushi etiquette. It’s very basic, and you should be able to enjoy your time without even thinking about it.

I’m not going to give you a list, but rather explain with commonsense, so it comes naturally. Most things are universal, but some have minor twists because of cultural differences in ideology.

Try not to make your dishes dirty. The dish is considered an art of its own, so defacing it is considered a bit rude. So, don’t mix and smother wasabi in the soysauce dish. Simply put a piece of it on the sushi before lightly dipping it on the tray. You should not replace food that has been bitten already on a dish. All sushi should be eaten in one bite. A good sushi chef should be able to estimate a bite size for each customer by looking at them, so they don’t have to bite the sushi in half. So if the sushi is too big, then it’s not your fault.

Sushi is sort of considered as an art as well, so try to eat it as is. Don’t drench your sushi with soy sauce. First of all, this is bad for your health. This also masks the flavors of the sushi, and  makes the sushi look like it fell in a bucket of soy sauce. Only a drop or two of soy sauce should be used. Dip the sushi at an angle and just barely touch the soy sauce. If you are eating a nigiri simply support it with your fingers and turn your wrist so the sashimi side touches the soy sauce. This is not just etiquette, but the best way to taste your sushi.

Try to taste all the sashimi. This doesn’t mean that you have to eat everything in the sushi bar. But if you really want to taste and appreciate all your favorite sushi, then you should start with the lightest tasting fishes (Halibut, Red Snapper) then gradually go on to the stronger flavors such as toro, salmon, or uni. If you only like to eat the oily fishes, then it should be perfectly fine to start off with it. This is not considered an etiquette, but it rather shows how knowledgeable and serious you are about eating. You don’t want to start off with a rich flavored fish, because it will be hard to taste the lighter fish with the more delicate aromas.

Don’t be greedy. This should not be misinterpreted as it states. You are the customer, and you are paying for your food after all. It is just a though about trying to control you’re appetite. It also implies to not ordering the same thing over and over just because you love it. This may seem childish. Egg omelet is ordered at the end to “yoku wo shimeru“ or to curb your appetite and call it a night. The sweet omelet acts the same as any desert, and settles your stomach.

These are very hardcore etiquette, so don’t be discouraged, or loose interest. Many sushi restaurants now days have a more cordial atmosphere, so you can really do whatever you want. Just keep these tips in mind if you happen to have a chance to go to an old school, traditional type of sushi bar.