Etiquette 101: The Art of Eating Sushi

different types of sushi

Without a doubt, sushi is one of the most popular and sought out dish not just in Japan but all over the world too. This wonderful and delicate piece of art has been around for hundreds of years and many people still find new ways to enjoy this dish. Don’t be fooled by its simple look and small size because a serving of sushi is packed with flavors, finesse, and history. You can eat it for breakfast, as a snack, or simply when you’re just craving for something savory and light. But a question remains somewhat unanswered: what is the proper way to eat sushi?

If you’re a fan of eating sushi, there’s a good chance you’ve asked yourself or the person next to you the best and proper way to eat this dish. Do you simply just pop it in your mouth? What difference does it make whether you use your hands or a pair of chopsticks? Do you need to smother a lot of wasabi on top? How should we really be eating our sushi? Even though they’re not aware of it, most people take sushi for granted because of their preferences for additional flavors. Some people like it with mayonnaise, eel sauce, and even Sriracha which may sound bizarre but some claim it actually works. Some even remove the fish from the vinegared rice and eat it separately while some simply discard the rice. Eating sushi can be quite tricky because it’s an evolving dish so there will be times that when you visit a particular sushi-ya (sushi restaurant), the sushi there is different to the next sushi-ya you will visit. It can be the size, the presentation, or even the flavor of the sushi. However it’s presented to us, its popularity and accessibility affected the proper and traditional way of eating this beloved cuisine.

Proper consumption of sushi requires practicality and of course, etiquette and to put our minds to rest, here’s how to eat your sushi the right way:

hand sushi

Always start with your clean hands. It may seem impolite to be using your hands when picking up your sushi, but it’s actually the best way to eat it. Not only does it makes picking up the sushi easy, it also prevents the sushi from breaking up and you have better control and grip when dipping it into your sauce.

When dipping your sushi into your soy sauce, always tilt it fish-down. The vinegared rice and the soy sauce aren’t supposed to touch together and you don’t want to be dipping your sushi into the soy sauce that much because it’ll affect the original and authentic flavors of the dish. The role of the soy sauce is to enhance the flavors of the sushi so just a touch of it is enough. You don’t want to ruin your sushi because of too much soy sauce.


If you like it extra hot, you can always add wasabi to your sushi. But one must remember to add the smallest amount there is because too much wasabi will ruin the structured flavor of the sushi. The chef had already applied the right amount of wasabi between the fish and vinegared rice for you and always keep in mind that you do not mix the wasabi into the soy sauce.

When you’re to eat your sushi, eat it all at one bite. Biting it in half is considered rude to the chef because one must consider the time he or she spent making it. Every sushi made by the hands of a sushi chef is sacred and unique. If you find the portion too big for your taste, tell the chef so he or she can make adjustments to the size. You can also ask the chef for recommendations and he or she will prepare something extraordinary for you. To get the full flavor and freshness of the fish served on your sushi, always place the sushi fish-down when you’re about to eat it.


The ginger, which is placed along with your soy sauce and wasabi, plays an important role. It acts as your palate cleanser and the best way to do this is to eat the ginger between sushi pieces. After you had taken this, you will immediately taste and feel a rather refreshing feeling in your mouth.

Don’t forget to acknowledge the rice because after all, the vinegared rice is the real star of the sushi. To attain the perfect texture and flavor, sushi chefs spend a remarkable time making the vinegared rice that will go well with the fish. And lastly, if you enjoyed your sushi and everything about it, thank the chef but don’t tip him or her. Instead, treat him or her a bottle of sake (rice wine) to enjoy with you!

different sushi

Remember, sushi is a meal on its own and can be enjoyed any time of the day. There’s really no right or wrong way to eat something. As long as you’re enjoying yourself, appreciating your food and its creator, then you’re probably doing it right.

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