Have you been eating sushi the correct way? What?! There is etiquette too for eating sushi? Yeah, In the west, we call it table manners, In Japan, we call it SUSHI MANNERS. Sushi, needless to say, only a person who is living under a rock will say he or she has never tried it before. Sushi has become a universal food in this era but how many of you know the etiquette of eating it?
Unless your physical appearance makes you obviously look like a non-Japanese, you will get stares from the sushi chef if you break the “mighty sushi rules” while enjoying your flawless freshly served sushi! So, what are the 5 rules to be adhered when your sushi is served?
Yes! How many of you have been stereotyping that Asians use chopsticks to eat every time? You may find chopsticks in a Japanese restaurant but it does not mean they are meant for sushi. The traditional way to eat a sushi is to eat it with your hands. Yes! DO NOT doubt it, it is not rude to do so, it is the traditional way to enjoy it. It’s similar to the western culture which requires you to have a knife and fork to make you decent. Eating with hands in a 5 star French restaurant may get yourself embarrassed but in a Japanese restaurant, it is called “Sushi Manners”. People who give you a strange look are people who do not know the right way of eating sushi. Tell this to them and show them your Sushi expert face! But of course, the use of chopsticks is also accepted as sushi manners these days.
Forget about the table manners you have been practicing when you are dating. To impress your crush, you may tend to eat everything in little bites like a squirrel. This rule IS NOT applicable to sushi! When you are eating your sushi, make sure you fit the whole piece into your mouth and let them roll in your mouth when you are chewing. Just like washing clothes in a washing machine. Remember, DO NOT bite it in half. This is because biting sushi into half will indirectly loosen the rice structure, therefore the texture for the second bite will be affected. To ensure every sushi is enjoyed at the its perfect condition, eat the whole piece!
There is a rule for dipping your sushi too! When you are dipping your sushi into the soy sauce plate, make sure the rice does not come into contact with the soy sauce. In other words, just dip the topping, be it a prawn or anything else. Do you remember what happens every time you dip the whole piece into the soy sauce? It “collapsed” ! This is because the soy sauce can “wash” the stickiness of the rice away. In just a few seconds, your flawless sushi will turn into a shi……..er….ok..forget about it…..but just remember! Don’t dip any part other than the toppings.
Have you ever wondered about the beige (or red) things lying inside a sushi box? You may also see this served in some Japanese cuisine. They are called “Gari”. Gari is pickled ginger and for some people, it is an acquiring taste due to its strong ginger flavor. The main purpose of Gari is to “clean” the remaining sushi flavor in your mouth so that the taste of your next sushi does not mix with the previous one. Gari will be helpful especially when you are eating Sushi with fish toppings, sometimes, the fish is just too fishy! A few Gari pieces can make your mouth fresh and ready for the next bite!
Mixing up Wasabi and soy sauce makes you feel like a chef? You may think you have invented the world’s most tasty sauce. Okay, let me tell you what……this is a BIG NO NO in sushi etiquette. The reason why you should not mix them up is simply because they are not used in that way! In any Japanese restaurants, the chefs are supposed to have applied a thin layer of Wasabi on the sushi for you. They are usually applied on top of the rice where the toppings lie. If you wish to add more Wasabi, just dip your sushi into the soy sauce first then put a LITTLE bit more Wasabi ON TOP of the topping. Then, put the whole piece into your mouth. Never mix Wasabi and soy sauce together!. Your job as a customer is to eat, not to make new sauce for the chef!
How many “taboos” have you made so far? Did you not know there is etiquette too for eating sushi? No worries, it is always not too late to learn something new. There are plenty of people out there still do not know about this. Next time, when you dine in a Japanese restaurant with your friends or families, tell this to them and see how amazed they are by your sushi insights!