How To: Eat sushi Japanese style

I love sushi. It’s one of my favourite things about travelling to Japan. However, one thing you realise when you visit Japan is that almost all actions have a ‘correct way’ to do it. You guessed it, this also includes how to eat sushi. Fear not though, with the few simple tips below you’ll be eating your next sushi session like a pro.

Only dip the fish into the soy sauce

First things first, the simple combination of nigiri (the simple rice pillow with a slice of fish on top) and soy sauce. Take your small bowl and add a splash of soy sauce. Next, take your chop sticks and use them to roll the nigiri onto its side. Then, gripping the nigiri between the chop sticks, roll it again so it’s upside down and dip just the fish into the soy. Do not shake it! Then, place it into your mouth and enjoy! Whilst on the topic of soy sauce…

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Sushi Japan Food Ramen nigiri sashimi

Nigiri sushi

Never add wasabi to the soy sauce

One of the biggest misconceptions about how to eat sushi is what to do with your soy sauce. In the best sushi restaurants in Japan, the combination of rice, wasabi and fish is no accident. The sushi chef or Itamae will add what they believe to be the perfect amount of wasabi between the rice pillow and the fish. By mixing more wasabi into the soy sauce and dunking the nigiri is the same as squirting tomato ketchup all over your Paris Michelin star dish.

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Sushi Japan Food Ramen nigiri sashimi

Tokyo Sushi

Use your Fingers to Eat rolls

One thing that puts some people off eating sushi is getting those frickin’ chop sticks to do what you want. If you’re still to master their mystical powers, there’s a get out clause. Order some rolls. These are meant to be eaten with your fingers, making them one thing that it’s super easy to look like a pro. Pick the roll up between your fingers, dip just one end of the rice in the soy and pop it into your mouth. It’s that simple.

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Sushi Japan Food Ramen nigiri sashimi

Itamae in Otaru, Japan

The ginger is to cleanse your palette

Another cause of confusion is what to do with that pile of pickled ginger that’s sat on the side of the plate. It must be for something, right? It sure is. Like when having a sorbet between courses during a western meal, the ginger performs the same job. After each piece of sushi, take a slice of ginger with either your fingers or chop sticks and eat it on its own. Enjoy the taste, take a sip of water. Whatever you do, don’t pile the ginger up on top of you sushi like some kind of open faced sandwich. Big frowns will very quickly be coming your way.

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Sushi Japan Food Ramen nigiri sashimi

Sushi restaurant in Tokyo

Stack your Plates at Kaiten Restaurants

If you think of a sushi restaurant, you’ll probably think of high stools at a bar with a conveyor belt taking a selection of dishes around in front of diners. Whilst the best sushi places in Japan aren’t like this, these kind of restaurants are super popular with locals, bringing quality food to the masses for a decent price. First of all, take a seat and get yourself set up with your soy and drink. Next, take in what’s passing in front of you. You’ll notice that the food comes on different coloured plates, each colour indicating the price of that dish. When you see something you like, pluck it off the conveyor belt and enjoy as I’ve outlined above. Finally, when you’re done with the plate, start to pile them up to one side.

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Sushi Japan Food Ramen nigiri sashimi

Heiroku Sushi, Tokyo

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