In Vancouver, perhaps the “sushi capital of North America,” the Japanese snack is often considered just another take-out food. Traditionally, however, sushi is an art form, prepared by a highly-skilled chef who expects diners to consume the fish and rice respectfully.
While local sushi joints may not require the same kind of attention, proper sushi etiquette can also help you better enjoy your meal.
No matter which flavors are your favorite, sushi tastes better when eaten the customary way. With good sushi manners, you’ll be on a roll.
Next time you visit one of Vancouver’s over 600 sushi restaurants, “rice” to the occasion by following these six simple sushi etiquette tips.
After splitting apart your chopsticks, do not rub them together. If yours happen to splinter, ask for another pair or very discreetly scrape the splinters under the table. Diners who don’t feel comfortable using chopsticks can use their hands; in fact this is how sushi is traditionally eaten.
Use both chopsticks at all times. Although your resourceful self can find many uses for those two sticks, moving your bowl around or stirring your soup with them should be avoided. Also be mindful not to gesture with them, especially when seated close to others. An “eye roll” would not make a very tasty menu item! When sharing a dish, use the blunt end to take food off of the shared plate, or better yet, ask for a second pair.
When not eating, place chopsticks on a chopstick rest. If one isn’t provided, you can make one out of the chopstick wrapper or place them across your plate or saucer. NEVER stick your chopsticks vertically into a bowl of rice, or cross them on your plate; it is culturally disrespectful.
Soy sauce, like any seasoning, is meant to be used sparingly. Use too much and it will overpower the taste of the fish. Avoid pouring it directly over your food; instead fill the saucer with a small amount and dip your sushi into it. When eating nigiri (sliced fish on rice), dip the fish side, and not the rice.
Although commonly done by casual diners for convenience, it is not customary to mix wasabi into your soy sauce. Instead, use chopsticks to scrape a small amount of wasabi onto your sushi.
When you have a roll, eat it whole. Sushi is meant to be eaten in one bite. In between bites–particularly when moving to a different roll or kind of nigiri–you may use the pickled ginger to clean your palate. Green tea is also a great palate cleanser, unlike sake, which is actually not considered a good complement to sushi.