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ANSWERED on Wed 14 Nov 2007 - 7:26 pm UTC by pinkfreud

Question: Sushi etiquette

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 14 Nov 2007 18:43 UTCWed 14 Nov 2007 - 6:43 pm UTC 

Hopefully, someone just knows this from experience.  What's the proper way to eat sushi? 

I tend to just pop the whole piece in my mouth, but it really seems a tad too big for that (the piece, not my mouth).  But there's no obvious way to cut the sushi into pieces without a knife, and biting it in half makes a mess.

I always mean to watch other folks for technique pointers, especially some Japanese natives, but I never quite remember to do it, so I'm turning to Uclue instead.






 14 Nov 2007 19:26 UTCWed 14 Nov 2007 - 7:26 pm UTC 

I was taught that sushi should be popped into one's mouth whole. If it just won't fit, bite off a piece or ask the sushi chef to cut it. Never subdivide it with a knife. This basically seems to be the consensus of online sushi pundits, too:

"How to Eat Sushi Properly...

Step One: Pour soy sauce on the small individual plate.

Step Two: Hold one piece of sushi (including the ball of rice on the bottom) and dip the fish side into the sauce. Avoid dipping the rice into the sauce.

Step Three: Place the whole piece of sushi in your mouth."

How to Eat Sushi Properly

"Sushi is a finger food and not meant to be eaten with utensils or chop sticks. It is expected you use your right hand to eat sushi, and pick it up with your thumb and your forefinger to dip it and eat it...

Pop the entire piece of sushi in your mouth. Sushi is meant to be a one bit 'fast food' treat in Japan. You are not supposed to take bites from sushi and then sit it back on the plate. This is considered unclean and insulting. In Japan, only samurai and chefs wield weapons such as knives, so it is not acceptable for you to cut your sushi into pieces. If a piece of sushi is too large to put in your mouth in one bite, it is acceptable to ask the sushi chef to cut the pieces for you."

Sushi Eating Etiquette

"If the size... does not fit to your mouth, you can ask the sushi-chef to cut it into two pieces when it is served, or ask to make it smaller from the next.  This is not an unusual situation at sushi bar counter and for sushi chefs, especially for ladies or children.  Do not hesitate to do so."

Sushi Etiquette

"Dip the fish part into the soy sauce.  Flip it back over and pop it into your mouth and eat it.  If it’s too big, gingerly bite the first half off.  Here’s where things could get messy.  Be prepared that your rice might crumble apart if you bite into a piece of sushi, leaving half on your chopsticks.  A gentle hold and a gentle bite will help to avoid this, but still won’t guarantee avoiding problems.  The other way that rice falls apart is when people dip the rice side of the sushi into the soy sauce.  This will most definitely cause the whole thing to fall apart, so avoid, avoid, avoid it!  Dip just the fish side."

First Time Eating Japanese Sushi

Hope this helps!

Best regards,


Roger Browne 


 14 Nov 2007 22:34 UTCWed 14 Nov 2007 - 10:34 pm UTC 

In an emergency, I wait until no-one is looking. Holding a chopstick exactly horizontally, I press it down hard onto the sushi. Perhaps surprisingly, I can usually cut the sushi this way provided the nori (seaweed) is not too thick.

At the end of the cut, the chopstick is positioned at the bottom of the sushi piece, which means I can lift it (using the other chopstick too) without any risk of losing stray bits of rice. Very neat and tidy.

There. My guilty secret is out.

I must admit, it had never occurred to me that a sushi chef would be interested in cutting up my sushi. I must try that next time the pieces are too big (which doesn't happen often).




 14 Nov 2007 22:40 UTCWed 14 Nov 2007 - 10:40 pm UTC 

When I think of asking the sushi chef to cut my sushi, my mind conjures up an image of John Belushi as the Samurai Sushi Chef, chopping the entire table in half with a giant blade.




 15 Nov 2007 07:55 UTCThu 15 Nov 2007 - 7:55 am UTC 

I'm a rice dipper. I use chopsticks and dip the bottom in my carefully prepared soy sauce and wasabi. In the US the quality of fish, sushi rice, and sushi chef are not up to exacting Japanese standards (though there is a delightful place in DC that is) and it needs a tiny bit of help. And none of that California Roll stuff, either-- raw fish and rice for me, liver flukes be damned!

Now am I the only one noticing the contradictions above?

The photo at http://www.ehow.com/how_3266_eat-sushi-properly.html shows chopsticks being used though the article says, "Sushi is a finger food and not meant to be eaten with utensils or chopsticks." The other sites have similar disagreement in word and picture.

The Food Virgin article says "They’ll often have... a cat or badger with a paw raised by the front door for luck." If you spot a "badger" (actually a racoon dog) try to check out the testicles. The alcoholic deadbeat Tanuki-- don't take an IOU from him!-- is traditionally portrayed with a whomping huge set, though recent versions available for general sale have been decidedly lacking for some reason.




 19 Nov 2007 03:43 UTCMon 19 Nov 2007 - 3:43 am UTC 

Thanks.  I learned quite a bit about the do's and dont's of sushi eating, and even a few maybes.  A very thorough answer (though I'm still going to watch the other diners next chance i get).

And thanks to all those who added comments, as well.


Roger Browne 


 12 Feb 2008 14:04 UTCTue 12 Feb 2008 - 2:04 pm UTC 

Here's a video which could be regarded as a "definitive" guide:

"YouTube - How to eat at a Sushi Bar"

It includes several clear shots of the sushi being eaten whole.

( Thanks to mukthar at Google Blogoscoped Forum for the link:
http://blogoscoped.com/forum/123223.html#id123338 )


Roger Browne 


 12 Feb 2008 14:20 UTCTue 12 Feb 2008 - 2:20 pm UTC 

Or, on a more serious note:

"YouTube - How to eat Sushi"




 12 Feb 2008 21:32 UTCTue 12 Feb 2008 - 9:32 pm UTC 

Those were great additions, Eiffel.  Thank you.  I didn't know the Japanese appreciated that kind of humour.  And I learned to to use the other ends of my chopsticks for getting things from the communal pot.

But the link  - "thanks to mukthar" -  raises a question:  do I know this guy?

   "Roger B ...

    It looks like this device has been designed to facilitate
    copyright infringement.

    It could be used to copy photos and other still images, or
    even (shudder) entire books! [...]

    Some parents even give these to their children. How
    irresponsible can that be? How many parents really keep a
    close eye on their children while they're using these?"



Roger Browne 


 12 Feb 2008 22:43 UTCTue 12 Feb 2008 - 10:43 pm UTC 

Myoarin: yes you do "know this guy".

For everyone else, here's the context:

"Color Pencils Reviewed"

"Color Pencils Reviewed - Forum Comments"




 13 Feb 2008 15:50 UTCWed 13 Feb 2008 - 3:50 pm UTC 


I know where you can find me when I'm not here.


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