Sushi has become one of the world’s top cuisines. In the United States alone, according to statistics from IBIS World, there are more than 4,000 sushi joints, generating more than $2 billion in revenue each year. Obviously, sushi is big business.
It’s interesting that despite the food of the best sushi restaurants in the world being translated to different cultures around the world and likewise riffed on in some of the world’s most unique restaurants, the traditional etiquette that comes along with eating in good sushi restaurants has not made the same journey. From America to Europe, we’re eating our sushi all wrong, and we’re often being rude about it. If you want to enjoy sushi as it was meant to be enjoyed, while avoiding insulting the chef at good sushi restaurants around the world, here are just a few of the common etiquette rules you need to follow.
How to Not Eat Like a Barbarian at Your Favorite Sushi Bar
- Get It All in One Bite
- Sit Correctly
- Avoid Making That Hellish Slurry of Soy Sauce and Wasabi
- That Ginger isn’t a Topping
Look, no one expects you to look amazing while you’re eating sushi. Many varieties can be less than easy to eat in one gulp, but unless your mouth won’t physically stretch that far, you should take your sushi down in one bite. The reason is simple: the chef meticulously prepared each piece so that all of the flavors balance nicely. If you only try a section at a time, you’re ruining that hard work.
Many good sushi restaurants across the world still serve their food in extremely traditional settings. This often means sitting at a very low table, having no option but to use soy sauce, and, in some rare circumstances, being made to follow a traditional dress code. If you find yourself at one of the sushi restaurants where traditional seating arrangements are your only option, you should make an effort to sit on your knees, as the popular cooking blog Just Hungry suggests. You may be a bit uncomfortable, but sitting this way is an important rule of etiquette you should try your best to follow.
Of all the social faux pas on this list, this one is likely the most common. Soy sauce and wasabi go together like peanut butter and chocolate, but that doesn’t mean you should be swirling them together into a Hell sauce in your sauce dish. As The Worldwide Sushi Restaurant Reference details, soy sauce is meant to be applied by itself to add a bit of salt and acid to pieces of sushi. Wasabi should be added only when the chef recommends it. If you combine the two, you’re really killing your ability to enjoy sushi as your chef intended it.
Despite popular belief, the ginger that is usually served with sushi is not meant to be a topping. As Conde Nast Traveler points out, you’re meant to eat a small slice of ginger in between pieces of sushi. Much like sorbet, the pickled ginger cleanses your palate, ensuring you can taste the complexity of flavor in each of your favorite pieces of sushi.
Do you run a seafood restaurant specializing in sushi? What are some of the biggest mistakes you see customers make? Let us know in the comments below. More.