Top-drawer sushi joints are fiercely proud of the freshness of their fish and the painstaking preparation of their sushi rice. The least you can do is eat it properly. (And then ruthlessly mock those who don’t, of course.)

So we enlisted the expertise of Chef Masa Miyake—Portland, Maine-based James Beard nominee, owner of the Miyake restaurant group and farm and author of the Dine Miyake blog—to set you on the path to enlightenment with these crucial rules. Don’t enter another sushi bar without ’em!

1. Never Leave Chopsticks on a Finished Plate
In Japan, this is considered rude. Most authentic sushi restaurants will provide a chopstick holder to place them on when you’re done. If not, fold your paper chopstick sheath into a makeshift holder, effectively and thoroughly wowing your uncultured friends.

A skilled chef will ensure every combo of fish and rice is a harmonious blend of flavor and texture. Sashimi and nigiri, especially, should be eaten in a single bite. Don’t mess with the ratio.

2. Or in a Bowl of Rice
Leaving chopsticks upright in your rice reflects a Japanese funeral rite wherein a bowl of rice is offered to the spirit of the deceased. In a restaurant with living patrons, this is a no-no.

3. Avoid the Soy Sauce Bath
Salty and coursing with rich Umami flavor, soy sauce should be used sparingly to enhance the natural flavor of the fish. Experienced sushi chefs have already added seasoning or will recommend a catch so fresh that any interference with its natural flavor would be criminal. So go light dip, not deep dunk.

4. Trust the Chef
Ask the chef (or relay the query through your server) for recommendations about the freshest and highest quality fish that day. This shows an engagement in the meal, confidence in the chef and a willingness to try new things. Or as the Japanese call it ‘omakase.’

5. Never Pour Your Own Drink
It’s considered bad luck to pour your own sake. Make sure your elders’ beer, wine or sake glass never drops below half full. This gesture also provides social lubrication to ensure your meeting with those wealthy Japanese businessmen goes smoothly.

6. Clean Your Plate
Your mom told you as a kid, and now Chef Miyake is recommending the same. The Japanese are a people who take great pride as members of a work-hard, waste-little society. Leaving food over is a sign of disrespect to the chef. Pro tip: Order a little less than you think you need. Chances are it’ll be enough, and if not, you can always get more—or dessert.

7. Balance Your Bite
A skilled chef will ensure every combo of fish and rice is a harmonious blend of flavor and texture. Sashimi and nigiri, especially, should be eaten in a single bite. Don’t mess with the ratio.

8. Skip the Sake Bombs
Drinking plays a key role in Japanese society, but sadly, sake bombs are not considered to be part of an etiquette-minded sushi eating experience. Editor’s note: If you’re going to forget one rule…