Sushi Etiquette: How To Not Be A Tool While Eating At The Sushi Bar

Down the delicacy like a pro

1. Be respectful of the noise level and ambience in the restaurant.

2. Never use your chopsticks to point at anyone or anything.

3. When passing food from one plate to another, use the blunt, higher end of your chopsticks (the end that has not come in contact with your mouth) and place it on your guest’s plate.

4. Do not play with your chopsticks.

5. Do not use flash photography.

6. When taking a phone call, go outside and talk. Apologize to the chef before you leave your seat (so he knows that you are stepping away and he can hold the next course).

7. Feel free to ask the chef questions about the cuisine to show that you are interested: “Where is this fish from?” “When is the usual season?” “How else is it usually prepared?” Most chefs like diners who take a genuine interest in their food. Build rapport. However, observe how busy the chef is and be aware of when to engage him in conversation.

8. It is perfectly acceptable to eat sushi with your hands. Sushi started off as finger food.

9. It is equally acceptable to eat sushi with chopsticks. Don’t squeeze the sushi too hard; handle gently with care.

10. Both sashimi and sushi must be eaten in one bite. If the piece is too big, do not be afraid to ask the chef to cut it in half for you (although a proper sushi chef would adjust the size of each piece according to the customer).

11. Do not disassemble the sushi. It is a piece of art.

12. If you use the small soy sauce dish, fill it with a small amount of sauce as needed. Do not overfill.

13. Do not put wasabi into the soy sauce dish.

14. Most sushi chefs will apply nikiri shoyu, sauce, salt, or the appropriate condiments on top of the sushi. Therefore it may not be necessary to dip your sushi in soy sauce at all. When in doubt, ask the chef.

15. When eating sashimi, you may apply a small amount of wasabi directly onto the piece of fish. Pick it up with your chopsticks, and lightly dip one end of the fish into the soy sauce. Only a small amount of sauce is necessary to enhance the flavor of the fish. Do not submerge the fish.

16. When eating a piece of sushi that requires you to dip it in soy sauce:

  • Using chopsticks: Gently flip the piece 90 degrees to its side (so that the fish is facing the left and the rice is facing the right), grab it with your chopsticks with one chopstick on each side, and lightly dip the edge of the fish side into soy sauce. Do not dip the rice side into the soy sauce, as the rice will soak up the sauce and fall apart.
  • Using your hands: You may flip the sushi piece 90 degrees to its side, grab the piece with your fingers, and lightly dip the fish side into soy sauce. Or you may gently grab the sides of the sushi without rotating it first and flip it over when dipping the fish side into the soy sauce.

17. When eating sushi, rotate it with your fingers or chopsticks upside down so that the fish side comes in direct contact with your tongue.

18. Eat your freshly prepared sushi as quickly as possible. Do not let it sit for a long time. The flavor of the fish begins to deteriorate with time.

19. It is impolite to leave food on your plate, even if it’s only a grain of rice.

20. Gari (pickled ginger) is a palate cleanser. It should be eaten between bites, not together with your sushi or sashimi.


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