Eating sushi at an authentic, Japanese restaurant is an experience unlike any other. The Japanese live for art. For the Japanese, there is artistry in everything we do including eating something as simple as a sushi. The fact is, there is a right way and a wrong way to eat sushi. Want to know how to eat a sushi just like how the Japanese do it? Consider these tips:
Sit at the Counter
If you really want to enjoy the experience, you want to sit at the spot nearest to the sushi chef. In this case, sit on the counter.
Addressing the Sushi Chef
Do not address the sushi chef unless it is absolutely necessary. However, it is a good idea to ask the chef what he recommends. This shows that you trust the chef enough to let him pick the meal for you. That being said, do not ask too many questions or engage in small talk. All the talking could distract the chef and affect his efficiency at making sushi.
Do not attempt to tip the chef with money. For the Japanese, notes are very dirty and must never be touched while working. What you can do to show your appreciation is to offer a shot of sake. If he accepts, drink a shot of sake together.
Prepping for Sushi Eating
Clean Your Hands
Before the meal, you will be handed a wet towel. Use the towel to clean your hands. Traditionally, sushi is eaten by hand. Eating sushi by hand is still widely acceptable in Japan. After toweling your fingers clean, put the wet towel aside.
Do not go Overboard with the Condiments
Do not wash the sushi down with too much soy sauce. Excessive soy sauce is taboo in traditional Japanese etiquette. The condiment will overpower the flavors of the sushi. The same thing goes for eating sashimi. Only use a small amount of soy sauce and gradually add more once you finish a small serving.
Sushi already contains small amounts of wasabi. Do not add wasabi to the dipping sauce. Leave the amount of wasabi to the chef. In addition, do not try to lick wasabi or ginger off your chopstick. This is considered rude.
Eat the ginger in between bites of sushi. The pickled ginger is meant to cleanse the palate. This condiment is not meant to be eaten together with the sushi.
Always put the chopsticks on the chopstick holder beside the table. The chopsticks should be neatly positioned parallel to the table. Do not leave them on your plate or dipping bowl.
Holding the Sushi
When it comes to dipping the sushi to the sauce, do so fish side down. Rotate the sushi counterclockwise so the fish or seafood touches the sauce, not the sushi rice. Letting the rice touch the sauce will change the bite of the sushi. Do this regardless if you are using your bare hands or a pair of chopsticks. The same thing goes for sashimi. If you are using your hands, lift a sliver of seafood using the thumb and middle finger. Allow only a small portion of the seafood to touch the soy sauce, never drench the whole thing.