Asia Travel News

5 sushi eating tips

How can such a basic combination of ingredients require a complex manner of consumption? How can the sacred matrimony of raw fish and vinegared rice - a delicacy savored in Japan for centuries - become so misunderstood by so many? Eating with chopsticks, dipping rice in soy sauce, mixing wasabi with condiments, combing rolls with shreds of ginger - these are all signs of a novice sushi eater. At best, committing a sushi eating faux pas can rob you of the full dining experience. At worse, some of the more egregious errors can be offensive to the chefs.

There's a lot you might not know about eating sushi. Before you head to Japan, make sure you study up on some of the cardinal culinary rules.

Ditch the chopsticks
According to a CNN interview with Koji Sawada, a sushi master in Tokyo, for practicality's sake, eating sushi should be done by hand. That's for two reasons:

  • The fish should be the first thing that hits your tongue.
  • If you're dipping sushi in soy sauce, you want to avoid dipping the rice.

The fish is the tastiest and most important part of the sushi. Therefore, you should savor that part first and foremost. In order to do this, you have to invert the roll, and doing this with chopsticks takes some skill.  It's much easier to toss the chopsticks and take a more hands-on approach. The same goes for dipping the sushi in fish-first in the soy sauce. Rice has a tendency to absorb a lot of sauce, so it will overshadow the natural zest of the fish and rob you of the flavorful experience crafted by the chef. While it isn't frowned upon to use chopsticks, dip rice or eat the sushi rice first, refraining from those common practices can provide a completely different eating experience.

Don't mix the ginger with the sushi
Ginger is meant to cleanse the palate between sushi rolls - not as a topper. Use it between different types of fish to rid yourself of the taste of the previous roll, and fully enjoy the next piece of sushi to come.

Don't mix the wasabi with the soy sauce
This is the sushi slip up that will make your chef shake his head. While wasabi and soy sauce are meant to improve taste, mixing them together can be taken as an insult because the combination can completely mask the flavor of the roll crafted by the chef. In more authentic restaurants, beware of this eating error.

Eat a roll in one bite
Many people take two bites to finish a whole roll, but a guide published by the Food Service Warehouse highlights one practice that can turn taking two bites into an insult. Taking a bite of a piece of sushi and returning the roll to the plate before finishing it can be considered rude. If you can't finish the whole roll in one mouthful, keep it in your chopsticks or in your hand.

Eat in the right order
There's a proper order to eat sushi based on the flavor of the fish. According to FSW, start with more mild flavors - try lighter varieties like whitefish or yellowtail tuna - and gradually move to more flavorful varieties. The most fattiest fish with the heaviest flavors come next. That includes salmon, fatty tuna and roe. The very last rolls you eat should be more elaborate rolls, temaki, rolls with egg or simple tuna rolls. Ordering these options marks the end of your dining experience and helps communicate your satisfaction of the meal with the dining staff.

Share
Recommended Tours

Highlights of China: Great Wall, Warriors, & Li River

9 days from $3,780 pp*
Custom Private Tour
Centuries fall away as you climb the Great Wall, look down upon the Terra Cotta Warriors, and cruise the serene waters of the Li River. Voyage through China's must-see highlights with private guides at every stop.
More Info

Vietnam Explorer

11 days from $3,487 pp*
Custom Private Tour
Take in awe-inspiring vistas in Halong Bay as you practice Tai Chi on the deck of a luxury cruise ship at sunrise.
More Info

Myanmar Explorer

7 days from $2,261 pp*
Custom Private Tour
Much of Myanmar is still blissfully undeveloped. Be among the first to experience the magic of Yangon, the 2,000 temples of Bagan and the incredible leg-rowers of Inle Lake with a private guide.
More Info
Kensington Advantage
Personalized itinerary with private guide & driver. Award winning value.
  • Personalized itinerary that fits like a glove
  • Full attention of your own private guide & driver
  • In-country offices for 24/7 peace of mind
  • Multi-award winning
  • 30,000 delighted clients

With the inside track on the new, the old, the off-the-beaten track and the out-of-this-world, you won't find a more knowledgeable team of destination specialists.

Meet Our Experts
Curators of extraordinary experiences, you won't find a more skillful team.
30,000 Delighted Customers
"Kensington, you've done it again...perfection!"

Don't take our word for it.
Here's what our clients say.

"Fabulous trip. Every aspect from the planning to execution was excellent."

Newsletter Subscription
Have our hand picked trips, news & specials delivered to you.
Thank you for signing up!

Your details have been received and processed successfully.
Travel + Leisure : World's Best Award 2014 Family National Geographic Traveler : 50 Tours of a Lifetime Travel Leisure Award 2015