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How to eat Sushi with the proper but friendly casual way

how to eat sushi in Japan Food & Recipes

As I told here, I took my husband to the authentic Sushi restaurant, which means sushi is not served on the conveyor belt. ( I am a Japanese, my husband is an American who can’t understand Japanese.)

The sushi restaurant is not a fancy restaurant like in Ginza, New York, Los Angeles, but still, I got nervous because I have never had sushi in the restaurant where it has a counter table only.

It’s a kinda shame I am not able to order smoothly as a Japanese, and even you might want to try authentic sushi at an authentic sushi restaurant in Japan.

Today, I am going to tell you the basic manners and etiquettes at the sushi restaurant, not a conveyor belt sushi restaurant.

There are many sushi restaurants for overseas travelers in major sightseeing cities, but chefs will be more friendly if you know basic manners to be there.

Get to know basic manners

Do you remember that you got nervous at the first lesson of your new hobby? You got nervous because you don’t know anything such as rules, manners, and people.

It’s the same thing, you will be calm at least if you know the basic rule of how to order sushi.

You don’t have to act as patrons and professional, however, if you mind about 4 tips,

  • Check out atmosphere
  • Communication with sushi chefs
  • Learn basic etiquettes & sushi topping
  • Enjoy yourself

Check atmospher before entering

sushi, counter table, women

The atmosphere is important to enjoy meals depends on the situation.

It’s a problem that the sushi restaurant recognized to be fancy and sophisticated, however, “sushi” was originally started from stall food in the Edo era. As long as you don’t bother others, you should enjoy sushi without anxious.

However, sushi restaurants are generally perceived to be sophisticated, so customers are happy. If you screw up, you are not meaning to do so, but as a guest of any country, some stubborn people think you should always make a real effort, like a Roman, in this case, like a Japanese.

Therefore, it might be better to avoid going to such a fancy restaurant as your first experience in Japan if you will be too nervous to order sushi.

Don’t worry, there is a casual sushi restaurant but good as fancy ones such as “Maruhachi sushi” where I had been.

It’s better to check out the atmosphere includes prices and what kind of alcohol they have with your guide book or internet, and put your nail down where it is suitable for you.

I am afraid to say that it is better to go to a conveyer belt sushi restaurant if you are with little kid or go to the sushi restaurant that has table seats.

Communicate with a chef

maruhachi sushi, nagoya, japan

Tell your budget

I know it might be hard to communicate with a chef.

But, it’s important to tell them your budget

because an authentic sushi restaurant doesn’t tell the price of sushi.

One of the reasons why there is no price because of the market price.

To avoid being shocked scary high check, tell a chef the budget. (ready for ¥10,000 at least though. If you think it is too high, better go to conveyor belt sushi. )

The simple and easy order

omakase, menu, sushi, japan

The simple and easy order is actually the “Omakase” menu, which means the chef’s selection sushi dish. Generally, 8 – 10 different kinds of sushi on a plate.

Some sushi restaurant has “Omakase menu” that already set the price, but if not, tell your budget to a chef.

If you want to order the “Omakase” menu, you should tell unfavorite seafood in advance.

How to say “Omakase menu, please?” in Japanese?

Omakase kudasai, or

Omakase onegaishimasu

Don’t hesitate to ask questions

Sushi chefs want you to enjoy your meal, so don’t hesitate to ask questions.

  • what the chef’s recommendation today
  • what is the seasonal seafood at the time
  • where the seafood comes from
  • how to eat sushi
  • what is the chef’s recommendation of Sake

Learn basic manners

sushi menu

Names of Sushi

Although I say don’t hesitate to ask questions to a chef, you can make the chef happier if you know about the basic sushi menu.

Moreover, if you say it in Japanese, it will help to get closer to the chef.

The common sushi menu in Japanese & English

The basic order to eat, but…

There is a traditional basic order to eat Sushi among Sushi geeks, but enjoying sushi is more important rather than following the order.

However, a chef and other customers look at you as respect if you know about this order.

  1. Not fishy flavor(white meat); Seabream, Flatfish, Sea bream, Right-eye flounder
  2. Lightly pickled seafood (called Su-jime); Dotted gizzard shad, Mackerel, Horse mackerel
  3. Rich flavor; Tuna, Ark-shell, Scallop, Sea urchin, Salmon roe
  4. Glazed sushi; Conger eel, Freshwater eel, Mantis shrimp…
  5. Rolls; Tuna roll, Cucumber rolls...

By the way, ordering rolls is the sign for finish eating, so that you can order additional sushi before rolls if you like.


  1. Be aware of smells of smoke and body fragrance. Do not smoke at the restaurant, do not put too much fragrance because Japanese cuisine is enjoyable with sensitive flavor. Too much smell bothers other customers and sensitive flavor of food.
  2. Consider the volume of voice, and do not keep the chef all the time when there are other customers.
  3. Do not leave sushi too long after serving. It doesn’t mean you must eat them in second, but better eat them before being dried. The good manner is eating sushi right after the chef serves.
  4. Do not dip soy sauce too much. (It is the manner of dipping topping side, not rice) If it is hard for you, you can grab sushi with your hand.
  5. Do not divide topping and rice before eating. Eating one bite is a good manner because the chef makes sushi with the best balance of topping and rice.

What you should do when…

eating sushi, a big bite, ask the chef

  • Too big for one bite; You can ask cut it half or reduce rice smaller.
  • Drop rice in the sauce plate; Gather dropped rice on the edge or ask another one if needed.
  • When wasabi gets you; Drink hot Japanese tea and a deep breath, and ask a chef to reduce the volume of wasabi.

Enjoy authentic sushi anyway

If you are my blog reader ( hoping so!), you will know what I am saying next.

It is true there are many etiquettes to have sushi at an authentic counter table-only sushi restaurant.

And Some manners make sense to eat sushi in the best way and to respect sushi chef.

However, the most important thing is to enjoy eating sushi in a nice atmosphere I think.

Only thing is that, consider other customers. It is a very important and priority etiquette in Japanese culture.

If you don’t go creasy, I mean, have a common sense, it is O.K. to make a mistake.

In fact, I made mistakes at “Maruhachi sushi” in Nagoya, I ordered tuna rolls at first.

My husband ate sushi with “Gari”, pickled ginger slices, together which is not an appropriate way.

Yet, we had a good time and the chef talked to us friendly. Of course, the restaurant has many foreign customers.

But think about it.

You don’t go ta fancy restaurants without knowing manners, right?

So it is very important to find a suitable sushi restaurant for that you can have fun eating sushi.

If you like my post, I am very happy to shar my post on Piterest! 

how to eat sushi in Japan


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