What to Order at a Sushi Bar: 10 Items

Don't know what to order at a sushi bar?  The menu can be a bit overwhelming when you're new to an exotic food.  While you may have expected a night full of raw fish and rice, you will find that a variety of dishes await you and may appease your curiosity.  Get seated, enjoy a hot cup of green tea, and prepare yourself for a unique dining event. While you're there, order these ten essential items to create a memorable sushi bar experience.

  1. Miso Soup. For starters, try the traditional Japanese soup made from miso paste and a variety of ingredients which may include scallions, seaweed, and tofu.  A good miso soup will have a warm, savory stock and will be a light beginning to your sushi bar meal. 
  2. Edamame. This soybean dish is boiled in water, salted and served either hot or cold.  Most sushi bars will give you plenty of edamame in your dish to nibble on before your main course.
  3. Rice. While sushi itself is made with sticky rice, you can never go wrong with a bowl of rice on the side.  A serving of white rice flavored with soy sauce is tasty by itself, but it will also compliment any dish you try from the sushi bar menu.
  4. Sake. Hot or cold, a bottle of sake is vital to a good sushi bar meal.  Brewed similarly to beer, the different types of Japanese rice wine vary in alcohol content.  And while many will enjoy the sharp taste of a warm glass of sake, sushi bar diners may find it to be an excellent palate cleanser between menu items.
  5. Sashimi. An assortment of raw fish thinly sliced, sashimi differs from sushi in its preparation without rice.  The sushi bar garnishes the plate with white radish and usually serves it as the first course before more strongly flavored dishes.  Nevertheless, sashimi can be enjoyed as a main course as well.
  6. Vegetable and shrimp tempura. Battered and deep-fried, delicious tempura is served hot and crunchy.  The dish is one of the most popular in sushi bars, and most restaurants vary in the type of vegetables they use, including eggplant, sweet potato, and squash.
  7. Salmon or chicken teriyaki. This broiled and sometimes grilled dish is prepared in a sweetened soy sauce marinade.  Usually served warm, teriyaki dishes mixed with vegetables are a great main course in your sushi bar experience.
  8. California roll. One of the most commonly known sushi rolls today, California rolls contain sticky rice, seaweed, cucumber, avocado, and crab meat.  The roll is prepared "inside-out" with the rice on the outside and was popularized in southern California before becoming a staple in most sushi bars throughout North America.
  9. Spicy tuna or salmon roll. This spicy variation of the more common nori (seaweed) on the outside roll is infused with a type of chili powder and prepared "inside-out" for a flavorful, unique taste.  Add a dash of wasabi, the sharp Japanese horseradish condiment, and prepare your tongue for some fiery flavors!
  10. Chirashizushi. This variety of raw fish over rice is popular for its "all-in-one" appeal.  Also known as chirashi, the dish's ingredients vary from chef to chef, but it is easy to prepare and very filling.  Grab your chopsticks and enjoy!
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