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How to eat Sushi & proper Etiquette

Maki Salmon

Eating Sushi the traditional way is relatively simple, as you should use your hands for any Sushi where you do not need to touch the actual fish. So your California rolls, Maki, Nigiri etc. can all be eaten by picking it up with your hands, and your Sashimi should be picked up with chopsticks. However we are not in Japan and in most local restaurants you should probably stick to using your chopsticks for everything except the hand rolls.


Search the net for Sushi etiquette and you will find long lists of do’s and don’ts. While these may hold a lot of importance in Japan, here in Cape Town very few Susi restaurants are actually owned by or employ Japanese people. The majority have Chinese Sushi chefs and the following etiquette should be seen only as some guidance.

Do not rub your chopsticks together. This can be seen as an insult and may imply you think the restaurant or it’s Sushi is of cheap quality. When you are not using them, place them on the chopstick holder or on the Soya sauce dish. This is where they should be left after your meal too.

Don’t be afraid to ask for Sushi not on the menu. Often the Sushi chefs will be able to make whatever you are looking for and will appreciate the interest and interaction.

When eating Nigiri, you should only dip the fish into your Soya sauce and not the rice.

If you are taking Sushi from someone else’s plate or a shared platter, it is considered polite to use the opposite end of your chopsticks (the end you hold) and not the end you put in your mouth.

Sushi MixGari (Pickled ginger) is meant to be eaten on its own as a palate cleanser and not in the same bite as a piece of Sushi.

It is not polite to stick your chopsticks into your Sushi to pick it up.

Sake is traditionally consumed either before or after your meal, not during. As both Sake and Sushi is rice based it is felt they do not complement each other and therefore should not be consumed together.

Also you should never refill your own Sake. You should serve each other instead of pouring your own and remain attentive to your fellow diner’s glasses and refill them when appropriate.

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