etiquette for eating at a sushi restaurant

Sushi Restaurant Etiquette: 12 Tips To Enjoy Sushi Venues

who this class is for

Restaurant guests

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About this micro-class

Sushi restaurant etiquette is important to ensure a pleasant dining experience for both guests and the restaurant staff.

Etiquette for Guests at a Sushi Restaurant

1. Key Characteristics of the Food

Sushi is a Japanese dish consisting of vinegared rice combined with various ingredients such as seafood (raw or cooked), vegetables, and occasionally tropical fruits.

Sushi is often served with soy sauce, wasabi (Japanese horseradish), and pickled ginger.

The freshness of the ingredients is crucial in sushi preparation.

Sushi can be served in various forms, including nigiri (hand-pressed sushi), maki (sushi rolls), sashimi (sliced raw fish), and temaki (hand rolls).

2. Cuisines

Different regions in Japan have their own styles of sushi, such as Edomae sushi from Tokyo, Kansai sushi from Osaka, and Hokkaido sushi from the northern island of Hokkaido.

Sushi has also been influenced by other cuisines, resulting in fusion sushi, which incorporates ingredients and techniques from other culinary traditions.

3. Typical Foods at this Type of Establishment


Nigiri sushi, maki rolls, sashimi, temaki, and various appetizers like miso soup, edamame, and seaweed salad are common offerings at sushi restaurants.

4. Condiments That are Common

Soy sauce, wasabi, and pickled ginger are the most common condiments served with sushi.

5. Drinks That are Recommended or Not Recommended

Green tea, sake (Japanese rice wine), and beer are popular choices to pair with sushi. Avoid strong-flavored drinks that may overpower the delicate flavors of the sushi.

6. Dietary Restrictions and Options

Sushi restaurants typically offer options for vegetarians, vegans, and those with celiac disease. Vegetarian sushi rolls, such as avocado rolls or cucumber rolls, are common.

Some sushi restaurants may also offer gluten-free soy sauce for those with celiac disease.

7. Table Etiquette

It is generally acceptable to eat sushi with your hands, especially nigiri and temaki. However, using chopsticks is also perfectly fine.

Dip the fish side of nigiri into soy sauce rather than the rice to avoid the rice from falling apart.

Do not mix wasabi directly into the soy sauce; instead, dab a small amount onto the fish before eating.

Use chopsticks to pick up sashimi or maki rolls.

8. Meals in Day and Hours

Sushi is commonly eaten for lunch and dinner. Lunch hours typically start around noon, while dinner service may begin around 6 or 7 PM. However, this can vary by region and restaurant.

9. Structure of Meals & Duration

The average meal at a sushi restaurant can last anywhere from 30 minutes to over an hour, depending on the number of dishes ordered and the pace of eating.

Sushi meals typically start with appetizers such as miso soup or edamame, followed by sushi rolls, nigiri, and possibly dessert.

10. How to Order

People usually order a variety of sushi rolls, nigiri, and perhaps some sashimi to share at the table. It’s common to order multiple dishes and share them family-style.

11. Sharing

Sharing food is generally acceptable and even encouraged at sushi restaurants, especially when ordering multiple dishes to enjoy together.

12. Bad Manners to Avoid

Do not rub your chopsticks together to remove splinters; this can be seen as disrespectful.

Do not place chopsticks upright in a bowl of rice; it resembles a funeral ritual in Japanese culture.

Avoid wasting food; only take what you can eat to show respect for the chef’s craftsmanship and the quality of the ingredients.

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