How to Eat Sushi

Once you have learned how to Make Sushi, it’s time for the next step: how to eat sushi. For some people, visiting sushi restaurants and eating sushi for the first time can be intimidating. Here are a few basic tips that will help serve as a guide to enjoying sushi.

Types of Sushi:

toro1 How to Eat Sushi Nirigi sushi There are three common types of sushi. The first are finger rolls known as nigiri-zushi. Nirigi sushi are long bars of sushi rice topped with wasabi and usually a type of fish, such as shrimp, salmon, or tuna.

futomaki1 How to Eat Sushi Maki roll Secondly, and perhaps the most popular type, is sushi wrapped in nori (seaweed), known as nori rolls or maki rolls. The rolls come in a variety of sizes and fillings. The larger size sushi rolls are sometimes called futo-maki, while smaller rolls are hoso-maki. Another type of nori sushi is a stuffed roll featuring a topping of fish. This is known as gunkan style of sushi. Still another varation of nori sushi is temaki, which are ingredients wrapped in a hand roll cone of nori seaweed.

The last and least common type of sushi is know as chirashi-zushi or maze-zushi, or "scattered" or "mixed" sushi. Mixed sushi consists of a bowl of sushi rice topped with diced fish and vegetables.

Eating Sushi:

One word of warning: Eating sushi can be a very expensive habit to break. When you start your meal at a Japanese sushi restaurant, you’ll first be given a hot towel (called oshibori) to wash your hands. Since sushi can be a finger food, this is a good thing to utilize. The meal often begins with a bowl of miso soup.

sushi meal1 How to Eat Sushi

A small dish is used to pour soy sauce into for dipping. The green paste is known as wasabi (think Japanese horseradish), and may be mixed into your soy sauce. Most sushi maki rolls already have wasabi added by the chef, so you may want to taste your sushi first before adding wasabi to your dipping soy sauce. Small pink slices of pickled ginger (called gari) are eaten between different types of sushi courses in order to cleanse the pallet.

When eating nigiri (hand pressed) sushi or sashimi (which are small pieces of raw fish), hold the sushi with fingers or chopsticks, dipping (not soaking) the fish into the soy sauce. Avoid dipping the rice into the soy sauce, as rice will absorb the liquid and lose it’s flavor. Place the sushi fish side down in your mouth, making sure you taste the fish first, followed by the wasabi and rice. Maki roll sushi is traditionally eaten in one bite. The rice in the roll tends to fall apart if eaten in more than one bite.

For more information on all aspects of sushi, read our Sushi Glossary.


Originally served by vendors in the streets of Tokyo, the modern sushi restaurant consists of a dining area and the sushi bar itself. While you can sit at a table, the sushi dining experience is best had by sitting at the bar and being served directly by the sushi chef.

The Sushi Chef

sushi chef1 How to Eat Sushi Traditional sushi chefs are subject to difficult and lengthy training before earning the title of chef. As an apprentice, a student sushi chef learns how to make sushi rice, prepare fish, and finally, making sushi. This process can take several years to accomplish.

When placing an order at a sushi bar, ask the sushi chef for a recommendation. They will usually be serving something special for the day. The selection of fish from local markets can vary, so it’s a good idea to follow the chef’s recommendations. Don’t be afraid to experiment! A good sushi chef will gladly answer any questions you may have about what to order.

When sitting at the sushi bar, your sushi will be served to you by the chef. Orders for drinks, soups, and other items are handled by a waiter. They also take payment for the meal, since sushi chefs do not handle money in order to keep their hands clean. You should tip your sushi chef – this can include offering to buy the chef a drink. Kampai! (To your health!)




Now that you’re hungry for a nori sushi roll, why not learn a few techniques on how to make sushi?