How To Eat Sushi Like A Local In Tokyo

Depending on who you seek advice from there are a number of ways in which to eat Sushi including, with chopsticks or with your fingers, one bite or two? To sauce or not to sauce? Eating sushi can itself be an art form, and much like a traditional Japanese tea ceremony, there is a defined etiquette to eating and enjoying it.


Michelin star chef and sushi master is Koji Sawada, recommends sushi should be picked up by hand, avoiding the chopsticks all together. The sushi should then be inverted before being dipped into soy sauce to avoid the hand molded rice from disintegrating on contact with the liquid and putting the flavors out of balance. When placing the sushi in your mouth, the fish should always touch the tongue first.


Any fine sushi restaurant provide their guests with a damp hand towel (oshibori) for use to clean your fingers before and during eating sushi by hand.

Diners can use their chopsticks to pick up condiments including pickled ginger, which is eaten to refresh the palate between bites. Wasabi may be served separately, and can be mixed with the soy sauce to dip the sashimi (raw fish without rice).

Most of the best sushi restaurants in Japan do not provide menus from which to order your selection, instead the experience is more like a degustation menu but where the chef has selected only the finest seasonal ingredients, prepared fresh each day.

As a consequence of menu free dining, many are unaware of the cost of a meal at a high end sushi restaurant, let alone the cost of drinks. If you don't speak Japanese, one option is to write down on a piece of paper the amount you are prepared to spend per person, excluding drinks and ask for 'o-makase' which translates as the chef will look after you - according to the per person budget you have advised.


There is no particular order in which different types of sushi are served, so just go with the flow and enjoy your meal with a local beer or sake. At the end of the meal diners are served brown roasted or green tea, before the check arrives. The tea is called 'agari'.

When the bill does arrive, don't expect an itemized bill as for the most part diners receive a slip of paper with a number on it.

Sandra Hawkins

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