1. When arriving, the chefs will greet you with “Irrasshaimase!” (“Welcome!”). Smile, bow slowly with both hands by your sides, and sit down.
2. It is best to sit at the sushi counter rather than at the table, so you can interact with the chef and get each piece of sushi made fresh for you. Make this request ahead of time when booking reservations.
3. Note that the head sushi chef is usually stationed closest to the entrance of the restaurant.
4. Turn your cell phone on silent mode.
5. Ask the chef if it is OK to take photos of his food.
6. Do not wear heavy perfume or strong-scented hair products.
7. Sushi counters are often made of expensive, specially ordered wood. Respect this surface by keeping it clean and free of clutter, and by removing wristwatches, bracelets, and other jewelry that could scratch the wood.
8. You will be provided with a warm washcloth, which is called an oshibori. Use this to wipe and clean your hands. Neatly fold or roll it and place it back in its container. You may use this throughout your meal to clean your hands.
9. When splitting open wooden chopsticks (waribashi) that are attached at the end, apply even pressure laterally. If your chopsticks split unevenly and are uncomfortable to use, do not hesitate to ask for another pair.
10. Do not rub the ends of the wooden chopsticks together to get rid of splinters. This implies that the restaurant uses poor-quality chopsticks. Simply remove them with your fingers, or discreetly ask for a new pair.
11. Place the chopsticks parallel to the edge of the table in front of you. Place the ends on a chopstick rest (hashioki) or on the edge of your plate when you are not using them.
This feature originally appeared in the May 2013 issue of the Los Angeles magazine