Have you ever wondered how to eat sushi properly? While the majority of American restaurants offer a relaxed dining experience, a more formal dining etiquette is practiced at many sushi restaurants in Japan.
Read on to learn more about those traditions and you’ll be sure to impress your friends and family the next time you enjoy sushi together.
Most sushi restaurants bring warm, moist towels on a little plate before your meal. Use the towel to clean your hands. When finished, re-roll the towel and put it back on the plate.
When wooden disposable chopsticks are provided, it can be tempting to break them apart and rub them together to remove any loose pieces of wood. Refrain from doing so, as it implies the restaurant provides cheap chopsticks.
While using chopsticks, it is considered a taboo to pass pieces of food using the chopsticks themselves. Pass the plate of food around the table instead, if it is not easy to reach.
Switch to the large ends of your chopsticks, rather than using the slimmer ends that go in your mouth, to pick up food from a shared plate.
If you’re not very good with chopsticks, sushi gives you an opportunity to put them down. Each piece of sushi is traditionally eaten all in one bite and by hand. Chopsticks are typically reserved for sashimi, but it is still polite to use them for all kinds of sushi. Take special care not to squeeze each piece of sushi too tightly, as doing so may cause the piece to fall apart before eating.
Plain fish with no rice must always be eaten with chopsticks. Like sushi, it should be eaten all in one bite.
If you like to dip your sushi in soy sauce, be sure to use proper sushi etiquette. Dip your sushi lightly in the sauce rather than dunking it. Place the nigiri in first, so that you’re only adding it to the fish. Rice soaks up too much soy sauce, overwhelming the taste of the fish, and often causing the rice to fall apart.
Many Americans add wasabi to their soy sauce and mix it up, creating a spicy dipping sauce. This practice is actually considered rude in Japan. Traditionally, each bite of sushi already has a little wasabi on it as carefully chosen by the sushi chef to compliment the fish.
To be more courteous, try a piece first. If you find you would like more wasabi, add a little bit more to the top of the fish with your chopsticks.
Another common mistake Americans make is adding a piece of ginger on top of every piece of sushi like a condiment. The pickled ginger served with your sushi is actually intended to be eaten between bites, acting as a palate cleanser. It helps to refresh your palate, so that you can taste the subtle differences between the various kinds of fish.
Although many American restaurants serve miso as an appetizer, this popular soup is served at the end of the meal in Japan. Miso aids in digestion, which is the reason for this custom. The soup is traditionally sipped from the bowl, rather than being eaten with a spoon.
Although sushi has become a popular cuisine in America, many don’t realize it is considered an art form. To see why, and for a great opportunity to practice your sushi etiquette, please visit Matsuhisa for the ultimate sushi experience.
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