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How to eat sushi

Updated on August 20, 2010

Sushi etiquette

If you're like me, you love sushi and eat it regularly. What you may not know is that you might be breaking several rules of sushi etiquette. While this might not be very important if you're eating pre-packaged sushi in your college dining hall, you might find yourself in a good sushi restaurant some day and there are certain things that you want to not do in order to avoid scornful glares from the sushi chef.

Chopsticks are correct, but so are hands

You may use chopsticks to pick up your sushi, but it is not considered rude to use your hands as well. If you are using a shared plate, pick up items using the more blunt back end of your chopsticks, or you could just use your fingers. Always place your chopsticks on the hashi-oki when you're not using them. The hashi-oki is that small ceramic thing they put on the table.

When you're done with your meal, you can place your chopsticks across your soy saucer with neither end resting on the table. Place them parallel to the sushi bar and they'll know that you are done.

One thing you never want to do with your chopsticks is rub them together to remove potential splinters. This is considered insulting, because no decent sushi restaurant would have you use chopsticks with splinters.


When dipping sushi into soy sauce, always dip the fish end, not the rice end. I know lots of people like to soak up the soy sauce in the rice like a sponge, but this is considered rude because you are overpowering the taste of the sushi with the cheap soy sauce. It's like dumping A1 sauce on a finely prepared filet mignon.

Speaking of soy sauce, don't dump wasabi into it and mix it together like its some sort of spicy soup. If you are going to use wasabi, use it very sparingly and place it directly on the sushi.

Eating sushi

Now that you know the correct way to move sushi from a plate to your mouth, there's one more thing you should know about eating it. Always eat the whole thing all at once. Don't take a little nibble and then put it back down. The complex flavors and textures of sushi are intended to be enjoy all at once.

Also, don't put the ginger on your sushi. That's not supposed to be a part of the complex flavors, it's supposed to be something to clean your palate in between eating the sushi. Think of it like toothpaste, except you swallow it. Please don't tell me you mix your toothpaste with your dinner.

Paying the bill

Never offer money directly to the sushi chef. The sushi chef does not handle money, and it's considered rude to offer it to him. When you signal that you're done the hostess should tell you where to pay the bill.


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    Lela 7 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

    I never knew! Does that apply to the fake sushi like california rolls?