Top 5 Rules of Sushi Etiquette

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If you’re letting a fear of raw fish keep you from trying sushi, you’re missing out. Sushi is both healthy and tasty, and some of it doesn’t involve raw fish at all. Eating sushi, though, does come with its own etiquette. Follow the rules so you don’t embarrass yourself at your local sushi bar.

5 The Rice

If your sushi comes surrounded by rice, don’t pick the fish out and leave the rice behind. The rice is part of the overall experience. It adds to the flavor of your sushi. Your chef created your sushi with rice for a reason. It’s disrespectful—and wasteful—for you to leave that rice scattered about your plate.

4 The Ginger

You might receive slices of ginger with your meal. Don’t put this ginger on top of your sushi or in your soy sauce. Why? If your sushi chef wanted ginger in your sushi, this pro would have put it there for you. You’re only supposed to use the ginger to cleanse your palate after a round of sushi.

3 Sampling from Neighbors

It’s okay to sample food from a fellow diner’s plate—with that diner’s permission, of course. However, don’t take a neighbor’s sushi with the end of the chopsticks that you put into your mouth. Instead, turn your chopsticks around and pick up the sushi with the end that you hold between your fingers.

2 Chopstick Rules

You might think of your chopsticks as no more than a utensil similar to a fork or spoon. However, in Japan, chopsticks are something more, a tool that is used for not only eating but that also plays a role in some of the culture’s most somber rituals, including funerals. When at a sushi bar, then, treat your chopsticks with respect. Don’t make them dance around the table. Don’t use them as drumsticks. If you do, sushi eaters in the know will consider you a fool.

1 Don’t Dilute Your Wasabi

When you order sushi, you’ll receive a dab or more of wasabi, a spicy sauce that you’re supposed to dip onto your sushi. You might also receive soy sauce. Do not mix your wasabi into your soy sauce. This dilutes the flavor of your wasabi, and you have no idea whether your sushi chef mixed your wasabi specifically to achieve a certain taste, a taste that you are now ruining.

Dan Rafner has been writing professionally since 1992, with work published in "The Washington Post," "Chicago Tribune," "Phoenix Magazine" and several trade magazines. He is also the managing editor of "Midwest Real Estate News." He specializes in writing about mortgage lending, personal finance, business and real-estate topics. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Illinois.

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