August 16, 2008

The Etiquette of Sushi Eating

By Stuart Turner

As with most culinary delights, there is a correct way to eat sushi. Follow these simple rules to establish the etiquette of sushi eating.
On arrival at your desired sushi haunt, you will be greeted with a cup of Green tea, please don’t ask for sugar! A wash cloth, or oshibori, will be given to you in order to refresh yourself in preparation for your meal. Direct your sushi orders to the Itamae (Sushi Chef). If an item of your preference is not on the menu, do not be afraid to ask, your interest will be appreciated.

However, one big no-no! Never ever ask, “Is it fresh?” It’s just rude! If you don’t think the food is fresh, trust your instincts, and don’t eat there. Non sushi items, for example drinks should only be requested only from the waiting staff.

Like knives and forks, there is etiquette to follow when using chopsticks. If you are faced with wooden chopsticks, once pulling them apart, attempt not to rub them together. It implies the chopsticks are cheap. If they do splinter, rub together discreetly, away from prying eyes. When you have finished eating, place chopsticks together below your plate and directly in front of you. They should face the left if you are right handed and vice versa!

A cardinal sin, DO NOT stick chopsticks in food; especially in a bowl of rice. There is a rather long winded explanation for this, but follow my advice, just don’t do it!

Soup should be sipped not “slurped”. The Japanese do not use spoons, instead drain the liquid and use chopsticks to remove any solid pieces. Hold the bowl close to your mouth. It prevents any unnecessary dribbling!

If all this chopstick malarkey is just too much, fear not. Use your fingers. Hooray, it’s allowed! However when it comes to, Sashimi, or raw fish, best attempts are required. It really should only be eaten with chopsticks.

Go easy on the Soy sauce; drenching your food is a sign of bad taste, as is overloading the sauce dish. Dip the sushi fish-side down, dipping the rice side will only ruin the taste. Refrain from peeling the fish away from the rice base in order to dip into the soy sauce. A strict sushi chef will take much offence at the brutality of this action, instead ask the Intmae to give the fish an extra brush of Soy sauce. If you would like more wasabi say “wasabi motto”. Refresh your palate in between bites with Gari, or sliced ginger.

Don’t forget to check your bill for service charge. If it is not included and you feel your meal is worthy of a tip, a mandatory 10% is customary in establishments outside Japan. However in Japan, absolutely no tipping is allowed.


Article By Tara Korth

How To Eat Sushi

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