With more sushi restaurants opening nationwide, it has become more important for people to know how to properly eat this Japanese dish. Sushi etiquette is not only a great conversation starter, it will help you learn how to fully appreciate the dish. Japan-based chefs have listed the proper ways to eat sushi.
The first — and perhaps most shocking — lesson is that cut rolls are meant to be eaten with one’s hands. Tokyo sushi chef, Naomaichi Yasuda, explained in a video posted on LATimes.com that proper sushi etiquette did not include using chopsticks for certain sushi varieties. Naturally, this has changed over the years; more people are accepting of using chopsticks, but traditional methods still call for a hand-picked bite.
Second, sushi was not meant to be “dunked” in the soy sauce. The dip is basically that, a dip. Sushi flavors were thoughtfully planned by the chef; overexposing the dish to soy sauce will mask the various flavors. The soy sauce is meant only for taste. Moreover, pickled ginger is never eaten with the sushi; these should be eaten by themselves, after eating the piece of sushi. This is to cleanse the mouth.
Another no-no, according to Yasuda, is dipping the nigiri into the soy sauce. The chef explains that the fish, and not the rice, should make contact with the sauce. This not only ensures that no rice kernels fall into the soy sauce, but again, to enhance the original flavor of the dish, and not overpower it.
On a final note, the chef reminds customers that sushi is mainly about the rice, and not the fish. While the fish is often the “featured” item in many Japanese restaurants today, traditional sushi makers say that the fish is only the secondary ingredient. It is the rice — the quality and texture of it — that makes a good sushi great.