Slowly savoring sushi, while watching the Taisho (the head chef) expertly prepare the heavenly dishes right in front of you has to be one of everyone’s favorite moments of a trip to Japan. There is a sense of privilege and occasion that accents the experience.
Visiting a proper sushi restaurant however has some rules of etiquette that must be observed. But once you remember these simple four rules, you can sit back relax and truly enjoy one of the greatest culinary pleasures on the planet.
The first rule is- go easy on the perfume!
Sushi restaurants provide super fresh, in-season ingredients that are not only full of flavors, but also have a beautiful aroma. Sushi purists would argue that the flavor and smell combination is what takes the experience to another level. So avoid wearing too much perfume or aftershave as it may overpower the aroma of the ingredients for both yourself and the other guests.
There is no fixed order in which you must eat.
It is commonly said in Japan that it is better to begin with the white meat sushi and finish with a sushi that has bold flavors. However, that is not entirely true. You can eat what you want, whenever you want to eat it. However Just make sure to prepare your taste buds by drinking something like tea, or eating some of the ginger or gari, to refresh your taste buds after each fish. And above all do not eat the ginger along with the sushi!, this like the tea is simply to reboot you taste buds before the next sushi dish.
Does sushi have to be eaten with chopsticks?
Actually no, sushi can be eaten with your bare hands or chopsticks. There are pros and cons to each method and it cannot be said that one is the proper way. However if your skill with ohashi is limited, better to use your hands than to fail and have the sushi come apart when attempting to dip into the soy sauce!
Eat your sushi in one bite.
Sushi is a work of art, where the size of the topping, the softness and temperature of the rice is carefully calculated by the chef as the perfect combination, and is supposed to be consumed in one mouthful. If you feel that the portion is too large to eat in one mouthful, it is perfectly OK to ask for a smaller portion of rice.
These simple manners exist so everyone can enjoy their meal while showing the proper respect for the Taisho and his efforts to prepare the meal.