Sushi Etiquette

Sushi with dramatic light and shadows

When eating sushi, it is okay to use chopsticks or fingers. With chopsticks, simply hold the sushi like any other food by its sides. With fingers, hold the sushi with the thumb, index and middle finger leaving the side with the fish untouched.

It is important to dip the side with the fish or other topping in the soy sauce and NOT the rice. Sometimes this is not possible because the rice is on the outside. In this case, simply be careful not to put too much soy sauce or the taste will be overpowered by the soy. Also, often the soy sauce causes the rice to break apart.

Another common addition to sushi is wasabi. Often called Japanese Horseradish, wasabi actually has no relation to American Horseradish. What most Americans consider wasabi is actually powdered and reconstituted American Horseradish with food coloring added to make it resemble real Japanese wasabi, according to Real Japanese wasabi is quite rare.

What not to do

Avoid mixing the soy sauce and wasabi together. It is considered rude. Wasabi is often already added by the itamae, sushi chef, but it is okay to add a little to your liking.

Between sushi servings, some people enjoy cleansing their palate with ginger, or gari. Ginger is not meant to be eaten with the sushi but between servings.

Picking up sushi with chopsticks

When eating, try to eat in one bite. If it is too big, it is okay to eat in two bites, but do not put it back on your plate after biting into it.

People often share sushi at restaurants and that is fine. But when you share with others be sure to pass the sushi to others without passing from chopsticks to chopsticks. It is a Japanese funeral ritual to pass the bones of the deceased to each other with chopsticks. Instead, try picking up the sushi and placing it on another's plate for them to pick up.