Basic Etiquette When Eating at a High-class Sushi Restaurant

2019-11-23 MANNER , OTHERS

This post is also available in 日本語

Sushi restaurants can be broadly classified into “revolving” and “non-revolving” sushi restaurants. In contrast to familiar revolving sushi, “non-revolving” refers to restaurants where the sushi is provided at a counter, as in the past.

Typically, revolving sushi tends to be cheaper and more casual. On the other hand,” non-revolving sushi restaurants” an image of luxury and a higher class. You may be interested to know the correct way of eating sushi and details of its etiquette. However, as long as you pay attention to a few points, there is no special method. On this occasion, I will introduce you to “how to eat sushi and the etiquette when you do” that should generally be known.

Before going to the restaurant


There are restaurants and certain timeframes where reservations are not required, but basically you should reserve in advance. If there are some ingredients that you do not like, or if you would prefer sushi without wasabi, you should communicate such information at this time. If you state your budget at this point, you will be able to enjoy the meal with peace of mind.

Perfume and cigarettes are prohibited

Sushi is a type of food enjoyed with delicate aromas. In addition to not smoking, we should avoid wearing perfume. You should also pay attention to the smell of softeners and hair products.

How to eat sushi

Do not move “Sushi-dai” (plate or board on which sushi is placed)

Sushi is provided on “Sushi-dai”. Typically, this will be “Sushi-geta” (wooden board with feet) or a “Mori-ita” (wooden board without feet), but some stores use plates. If possible, reach out your hand and take the sushi without moving “Sushi-dai”.

Chopsticks or hands?

Both of these methods are acceptable. However, the taste of the “Neta” (fish) and “Shari” (rice) differs depending on the way it is squeezed. If you grip it hard, the warmth of your hand will transmit to the sushi and this may cause the taste to suffer. When eating, hold lightly in your hand and eat quickly.

* Always use chopsticks when eating “Gari” (pickled ginger)

Eat as a mouthful without separating the “neta” and “shari”

One piece of sushi is referred to as “Ikkan” (unit for measuring the sushi). The “Neta” and “Shari” make up one piece of food together. Eat “Ikkan” as one mouthful, without cutting it with chopsticks, biting off half of it, or separating the “Neta” and “Shari”. If it is too big, please request them to “make it a little smaller”.

How to add soy sauce

Typically, you will eat sushi with soy sauce.

  1. Pour soy sauce into the dish.
    Rather than putting a large quantity in at the beginning, pour in a small amount and then add as necessary.
  2. When you bring the sushi from “Sushi-dai” towards you, turn it upside down so that the “Neta” is facing down.
  3. Use only a small amount of soy sauce on the “Neta”. If you dip rice in the soy sauce, it will crumble and become difficult to eat, so you should avoid this. You should also avoid using too much soy sauce as it will spoil the taste of the sushi.

In case of “Gunkanmaki”

Dip in soy sauce without turning it upside down. While on “Sushi-dai”, dip the “Gari” in soy sauce and drip soy sauce over it. If it includes cucumber, it is possible to remove the cucumber, dip it into soy sauce and return it.

In case of sushi that is already flavored

If the sushi is already flavored with “Nikiri” (condiment made with soy sauce and ”mirin”), “Tsume (sweet sauce)”, or coarse salt, you should eat it without using soy sauce.

Order of eating and method of ordering

Sushi is a food where you enjoy delicate tastes. If you start with light white fish, such as bream or flounder, then gradually move on to fattier fish such as “Toro” (fatty part of tuna) or “Uni” (sea urchin), and then eat rolled sushi at the end, you will be able to enjoy the taste of the fish right until the end. If you are not sure, you can order “omakase (have the chef give recommendations)”.

However, there is no particular etiquette related to the order of eating sushi. When eating in your preferred order, you can reset the taste in your mouth by eating “Gari” and drinking Japanese tea after eating a strong-tasting fish.