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Sushi Etiquette: Dos and Donts


While some customs may be traditional, it's not likely that you'll be eating at a restaurant where these customs are strictly enforced. The most important thing is to enjoy the food you are eating! So, if you like your sushi dripping in soy sauce, go ahead and dunk. If you hate the idea of using wasabi, don't! Below are just a list of guidelines that will help make the most of your sushi experience.


  • Be polite and friendly! A sushi chef has earned a high level of respect. If you're at the sushi bar, don't be afraid to ask questions--just don't ask if the fish is fresh! This should go without saying and could be insulting.

  • Pay attention to the cleanliness of the restaurant. If it smells fishy or doesn't look clean and tidy, the food will probably lack in quality.

  • Have an open mind. You may have your go-to options, but be brave and go outside of your comfort zone! If you need advice, your waiter or sushi chef will be happy to help you.

  • Eat sashimi with chopsticks. Since there is no rice or seaweed, it's best to eat the sliced fish with your chopsticks. Dip a corner into a little soy sauce and let the flavor speak for itself.

  • Eat nigiri with your fingers. If the piece hasn't been specifically prepared by the chef, dip your nigiri into soy sauce fish-side down. Rice will absorb too much soy and may fall apart.

  • Eat nigiri in one bite. If you can, eat the piece in one bite, fish-side down to achieve the perfect harmony of fish, rice, and wasabi.

  • Use your ginger as a palate cleanser. Eat in between different types of fish to refresh your palate. 

  • Pay attention to your rice. Any restaurant can buy an expensive fish, but the key to a special bite is a perfectly packed and seasoned rice. 


  • Don't rub your chopsticks together. This tells the sushi chef you think they're poor quality.

  • Don't use too much wasabi. You do you boo, but be careful not to overpower the delicate flavors of the fish.

  • Don't use too much soy sauce. Again, to each his own, but be wary of creating a salt bomb!

  • Don't leave your sushi sitting too long. Whether you're dining at a table or sitting at the sushi bar, sushi is best when the rice is still a little warm, the fish cool, and the seaweed crunchy.

  • Don't expect a quick meal at the sushi bar. Whether you are doing omakase or ordering a la carte, this is a place where you should take your time to enjoy all of the flavors and watch the chef carefully prepare your food for you.

  • Don't be afraid to try a chef's Omakase. Omakase means you're leaving the menu up to the chef. He will present you with a crafted procession of carefully prepared bites of sushi and beyond. Though it's often pricey, it's almost always worth it.

  • Don't order heavy foods at the beginning of your meal. Work up to the heavier options by starting with something light like sashimi or nigiri. 

  • Don't forget to thank the chef! Thank your sushi chef for the meal he just hand crafted for you.

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