How To Eat Sushi
Many enjoy it around the world but not everyone knows how to eat sushi the proper way. While some of the etiquette is lax even amongst the Japanese, if you're going to eat at a traditional sushi restaurant there are a few guidelines that might help you out.
- Use the hot towel to clean your hands. If your server provides you with a hot moist towel, use it to clean your hands and then fold it and set it aside. It is not meant to be used to clean your hands during or after you eat sushi or to wipe your face at any point.
- Place your order. The sushi chef will take your sushi order, and it is okay to strike up conversation with him if he is not busy. Do not, however, ask him for drink refills or other items. If you need something else, ask your server for it.
- Pour soy sauce. Pour soy sauce into the small round dish while you wait for your meal. It is traditionally considered rude to add wasabi, as the sushi chef places the amount he feels is proper in the sushi, but—even in Japan—many people mix wasabi into their soy sauce when they eat sushi.
- Pick up your sushi. Unless you're eating sashimi, it is acceptable to eat sushi with your hands, as it was made to be a finger food. Sashimi should be eaten with chopsticks, and if you are sharing sushi, use the clean end of the chopsticks to take sushi from someone else's plate.
- Dip the sushi in soy sauce. Dip the fish-portion of the sushi into the soy sauce rather than the rice portion, as this could cause the sushi to fall apart. If you are eating sushi rolls with rice on the outside be careful not to soak the rice in order to avoid this.
- Eat the sushi. Put the sushi into your mouth in one bite. Traditionally made nigiri, sashimi, and rolls will be small enough to fit a whole piece into your mouth. If a sushi chef makes oversized rolls it is okay if you cannot fit the whole thing in your mouth.
- Eat a slice of ginger. The pickled ginger is meant to serve as a palate cleanser, so eat a slice after you eat a piece of sushi. Do not eat sushi and ginger in the same bite, as the ginger is not meant to be a condiment.
- Thank and tip the sushi chef. Once you are done with your meal, thank the sushi chef and—if you are in a country that tips—leave a tip as you see appropriate. Keep in mind that while tipping is customary in the United States, in Japan and many other nations it is not.