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Fast Guide to Sushi

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Do flip chopsticks over

If the sushi bar or dinner host doesn’t provide serving utensils, go ahead and flip your chopsticks over and use the blunt, clean ends to pick up some tasty bit of sushi from a communal platter or bowl or from a friend’s plate, if the friend is willing to share! after setting the items down on your plate, flip the chopsticks back to their original position to eat with them. doing this is hygienic and shows that you care for yourself and others at the table.

Don’t rub your chopsticks together

Don’t rub disposable wooden chopsticks (waribashi) together after splitting them apart. doing so shows bad manners and implies that the chopsticks have splinters and are cheap, insulting your host. If your chopsticks really do splinter when you snap them apart, rub them together discreetly, not in view of all.

Do use the washcloth to wipe your face

In a sushi bar or restaurant, you’ll receive an oshibori, which is a small hot or cold (depending on the weather) wrung-out towel to cleanse your hands with, before and sometimes after you finish your meal. oshibori is set in front of you when you sit down. after wiping your hands, fold the oshibori and put it back in its small basket. You may also keep this first oshibori to wipe your fingers during the meal. sometimes you’ll see the Japanese wiping their face with their oshibori. this is perfectly acceptable.

Don’t ask for a spoon

The Japanese don’t use spoons. they sip their soups out of small soup bowls. sometimes soups are served in lacquer bowls with lids. You remove the lid (which keeps the soup warm) and sip out of the bowl. slurping as you sip is considered acceptable. any small, solid ingredients may be picked up with your chopsticks. if it’s too difficult for you to drink soup without a spoon, go ahead and ask for one. But give it a try the Japanese way, at least once.

Do eat sushi with your fingers

Finger sushi started out about 200 years ago as a street snack meant to be picked up and eaten with your fingers. You can use chopsticks to eat sushi, but fingers are still perfectly acceptable. But always use chopsticks, not fingers, when you eat sashimi.

Do place chopsticks together

When setting your chopsticks down, lay them tightly together, below your plate and directly in front of you. Never stick your chopsticks in a bowl of rice! that’s a definite no-no! this is done only at funerals, where the deceased’s personal chopsticks are placed upright in a full bowl of rice, offering the person sustenance for the journey into the next world.

Don’t put wasabi in soy sauce

Unless you’re absolutely crazy about wasabi and can’t help yourself, don’t mix wasabi in your soy sauce when eating sushi. if you want to do the proper thing, ask your host or sushi chef to put extra wasabi in the sushi when preparing it. eating sashimi is the exception. When eating sashimi, it’s acceptable to mix a bit of wasabi into your soy sauce.

Don’t use lots of soy sauce

Lightly dip your sashimi (slices of raw fish) or sushi in your soy sauce. don’t drench or soak them! soy sauce is meant to enhance flavors, not smother them. Just as it’s polite to taste your food before you salt it, it’s polite to limit the use of soy sauce, letting the hosts or sushi chef’s mastery of flavors be your guide.

Sushi vocabulary

  • Konichiwa! – good afternoon!
  • Arigato! – thank you!
  • Domo arigato! – thank you very much!
  • Dou itashimashite – You’re welcome.
  • …o kudasai – Please give me. First say the type of sushi you want, then “o kudasai”.
  • Shiawase – happiness or to be happy.
  • Itadakimasu – traditional phrase opening a meal meaning “I humbly receive” or “I will take this”.
  • Gochiso-sama deshita – traditional phrase closing a meal meaning, “thank you for the meal”. it literally means, “that was a gochiso (feast)”.

Types of Sushi

  • Chirashi-zushi: Toppings, usually raw fish, served over a bowl of sushi rice.
  • Inari-zushi: A type of sushi in which the toppings are stuffed into a small pouch of fried tofu.
  • Nigiri zushi: A type of sushi made with the toppings attached to hand-formed balls of rice.
  • Maki-zushi: Sushi rolls covered with nori (dried sheets of seaweed).
  • Temaki-zushi: Hand-rolled sushi wrapped in a cone of nori.

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