Japan Today

Hands or Chopsticks? 4 Tips for Eating Sushi


Slowly savoring sushi while watching the taisho (head chef) prepare it in front of you is one of those moments in life that make you feel happy to be Tokyo.

Many may think that high-end sushi restaurants have strict manners to observe and that you may not be able to just casually walk in and eat, but this is not really the case. Paying attention to some basic rules and manners will have you eating maguro (tuna) just like a local — and prevent any embarrassing faux pas at that fancy sushi shop.*        Don’t wear strong scents

A sushi restaurant mainly provides in-season ingredients. These ingredients are not only full of flavor, but also take on a beautiful aroma. Avoid wearing too much perfume, as it may overpower the fragrance of the ingredients.

  •        Eat sushi in any order

Much like wine, it’s commonly said in Japan that you should begin with a white fish and finish with a sushi that has bold flavors. However, that is not entirely true. You can eat what you want, whenever you want to eat it. This is possible to do in any restaurant. Just make sure to cleanse your palate by drinking something like tea to refresh your tastebuds before eating more delicate, lighter fish after eating a bold tasting sushi.

  •        Eat sushi with your hands or your chopsticks

This is a big issue and one that many people will likely have questions about. Sushi can be eaten with your bare hands or the provided hashi (chopsticks). There are pros and cons to each method and neither one is the considered the  “proper” way.

  •        Eat sushi in one bite

Sushi is a work of art where the cut of the fish, plus the softness and temperature of the rice is carefully calculated. By eating the fish and the rice together in one piece, a new world will unfold in your mouth. If you feel self-conscious about opening your mouth too wide, it’s possible to ask for a smaller portion.

These simple manners will go a long way to help you and your hosts feel comfortable enjoying a night out with some a traditional sushi — and getting the best out of that culinary piece of art into which the taisho has put all his efforts. Itadakimasu!

Here are some sushi restaurants currently accepting Pocket Concierge reservations:

  • Sushi Kin
  • Sushi Masuda
  • Ichikawa
  • Kimura
  • Koraku Sushi Yasuhide Pocket Concierge is a Tokyo dining reservation service that let’s you make last minute bookings at some of the city’s finest eateries. Visit today and get seats at the best restaurant in town without even making a phone call!

Pocket Concierge

Web: https://pocket-concierge.jp/restaurant/list?locale=en

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Fingers for me.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I go to kaitenzushi/conveyor belt sushi restaurants and use my hands. If I go to a high end restaurant, I might be self-conscious and use chopsticks or not!

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I use chopsticks, but not out of any sense of politeness (or lack thereof), but rather because I don't like touching non-dry food with my fingers.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

The answer to one fundamental question is left out of the article: What is the proper way to dip the sushi in the soy sauce? In 1977 a Japanese man who postured himself as being an expert on eating sushi told his audience that the proper way is to turn the sushi piece over so that you are dipping only the fish slice in the soy sauce and thusly, prevent the soy sauce from soaking into the rice.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Eating nigiri sushi with your hands may sound ridiculous, but that was the way it was eaten during the late Edo Period. And it's still a proper way to eat them.

If I remember correctly, maki sushi--essentially sushi covered with nori seaweed--was supposedly invented for people who were gambling with playing cards (during the Edo Period, gambling with playing cards were common, and despite innumerable laws passed by the Tokugawa shogunate they never really were able to suppress it).

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It's good to know that there really isn't a "proper" way of eating sushi, and that its okay to use chopsticks or just your hands. My wife really likes sushi and wants to go to a sushi restaurant in our city. I've never been to one before so I've just been looking up tips so I know how to behave. I'm excited to go, I think it'll be a good experience. Thanks for the helpful tips on eating

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If I can leave any recommendation...

I recommend you to try chain restaurant, Sushiro :)

You can find one almost in every bigger city.

It's not very exclusive, but they serve the best sushi I ate in Tokyo.

They pretty economic, so if you are a big sushi lover, then there you can eat, until you're full.

This restaurants are popular with local people, because they're cheap and their sushi is very fresh.

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This debate is too simple. Some sushi courses need to be eaten with chopsticks - like all sashimi. The chopstick vs finger debate only involves nigiri sushi. Both are acceptable. Historically, men eat with fingers and women chopsticks, but those traditions are old and you should do what you like best. The most important thing, fingers or chopsticks, is to make sure you flip the nigiri so the fish portion lands on your tongue. The rice should never be the first thing to hit your tongue. That's the biggest mistake people make when eating nigiri.

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