If you’re new to sushi, it can be a little intimidating (“Wait, is this stuff even cooked?”). Even if you’re a sushi enthusiast, you may still have some questions.

Apprentice or pro, check out these tips to ensure you’re using proper etiquette when eating sushi.


Use your hands as a utensil.


Photo by Armin Nayak

Although most people use chopsticks, sushi is traditionally a finger food and it’s totally acceptable to eat it that way. Whatever you do, try to avoid asking for a fork and knife– you might get a few questionable looks.

Eat it all in one bite.

If you can’t fit the whole thing in your mouth, that’s okay, two bites will suffice. But, don’t put the sushi down in -between bites. Once you pick it up, keep the unbitten piece on your chopsticks.

Ask your chef for recommendations.


Photo by Armin Nayak

Asking your chef for recommendations shows that you respect and trust him or her. If you really want to flatter your chef, say “Omakase” when ordering. This leaves your order entirely up to the chef, ensuring the freshest and most flavorful dishes.

Use ginger.

You know that fleshy looking white stuff on the side of your plate? Yeah, that’s ginger. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not just a fancy garnish. It’s meant to be used as a palate cleanser when switching between different types of fish.

Clean your plate.

Finishing everything on your plate is a compliment to the chef; it shows you enjoyed your meal. So, when eating sushi it’s okay to be part of the Clean Plate Club. Don’t leave a single grain of rice behind.


Drown your sushi in soy sauce.


Photo by Marissa Sherman

Soaking your food in soy sauce is seen as disrespectful because it implies that your sushi is not flavorful enough. Only use a light amount to enhance the flavors. You should also avoid dipping the rice end of sushi in soy sauce, so go for the fish end.

Rub your chopsticks together.

Rubbing your chopsticks together implies that they are cheap and have splinters, which will most definitely insult your host. If your chopsticks do happen to have splinters, discretely ask for a new pair. Click here for even more chopstick etiquette.

Pass food between chopsticks.


Photo by Marissa Sherman

It’s considered rude and impolite to pass sushi between chopsticks. This is because of a Japanese funeral ritual in which they pass bones of the deceased to each other by chopsticks. Passing sushi between chopsticks is only tolerated between parents and their children or lovers, as it is seen as a gesture of closeness.

If you must pass sushi, pick it up with your chopsticks and place it on you friend’s plate.

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