How to behave at a sushi restaurant
If you’ve ever found yourself at the counter of a sushi restaurant, nervously watching and copying other customers around you, don’t worry; you’re not alone. It turns out that even Japanese people aren’t too sure of themselves when it comes to dining with sushi.
Thankfully, Japan has etiquette guides for everything – from how to wear a suit to how to eat a hamburger – so proper tips aren’t hard to find. We’ve sourced a compilation of sushi manners that outlines some of the finer points, while also giving us an insight into the type of things that confuse Japanese sushi customers.
First up, “irasshaimase” or “welcome.” Let’s take roll-call with the main styles of sushi (photo left). Nigiri-zushi: Hand molded, with neta (topping) on a bed of sushi rice; “makimono:” Sushi rice with a seaweed wrap and a variety of fillings. These come in regular roll shapes (“makizushi” or roll sushi) and more rectangular, battleship shapes (“gunkanmaki”).
How to Order
Either tell the staff your budget to receive a specially designed course from the chef, or make your requests from the menu. Keep in mind that it’s best to start with lighter flavors and then move on to stronger flavors as the course progresses.
While “toro” (supple, fatty tuna) is a popular choice for many people, ordering it in bulk and dismissing all other choices is considered bad form. A well-rounded order with a few different varieties is a much better way to get on good terms with the chef.
They say you can test the flavors of a sushi restaurant by their egg rolls but the “anago” (conger eel) and the “konoshiro” (gizzard shad) are also great ways to see the chef’s talent and try distinctive flavors.
When the “makimono” comes out, it’s a sign that your specially designed course is at an end. Make any additional orders now if you’re not full.
How to eat
—Eat the sushi as soon as it’s placed in front of you.
—Eat it with one hand or with chopsticks; either is no problem.
—It’s important to eat the sushi in one mouthful. If you think the sushi might be too big, then ask for it to be cut or molded into a smaller portion.
—When dipping sushi into soy sauce, do it so the sauce only touches the “neta” (the fish topping) and not the rice. You don’t have to totally turn the sushi over to get the job done; just tilt it to the side and dip the tip of the “neta.” As rice soaks up the soy sauce, it’s likely to crumble.
—“Gunkan” sushi might spill and fall apart if tipped, so a bit of sneaky sauce on the rice is forgiven here, as long as you aim mostly for a seaweed dip.
What to avoid
—Don’t drown your sushi in loads of soy sauce. Taste the fish and rice.
—Don’t take the “neta” off the sushi rice; dip it in soy and then return it to the top of its rice bed.
—Don’t wear a strong smelling fragrance if you plan to sit at the counter
—Don’t show off half-hearted sushi knowledge. Show some humility to the chef and he’s sure to treat you in kind.
Source: Matome Naver
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