By Cassie Kunze
Sponsored by Nippon Sushi Bar
Sushi dining etiquette? Yes, it’s a thing. We consulted sushi chef Ivan Mendoza from Nippon Sushi Bar in Southfield to share the proper Japanese etiquette when eating sushi so you don’t feel completely out-of-place during your next dining experience, and to elicit a deeper appreciation for the delicious delicacies.
There are three traditional forms of sushi: sashimi, nigiri and rolls
Maki, meaning “roll” in Japanese, is the root for what most commonly refer to as a sushi roll. For sushi rolls, Mendoza says only a little dip of soy sauce is needed.
“Proper sushi etiquette would have diners using their fingers, so if the chef (itamae)is especially attentive and traditionally trained, use your hands,” Mendoza says.
Rolled sushi, or makizushi, is primarily a finger-food; if it is a sauced roll, chopsticks are acceptable.
Nigiri is a hand-formed sushi using a mound of rice pressed into a rectangle by the chef’s palms and topped with neta (toppings including salmon, tuna and shrimp).
“Don’t be afraid to use your hands,” Mendoza says. Nigiri is traditionally eaten with your fingers. For nigiri, Mendoza suggests making a half turn, grabbing the nigiri with chopsticks and dipping it into the soy sauce on the fish side. He explains if it is too difficult to invert the sushi, baste the soy sauce on the topping using the ginger. The rice shouldn’t touch the soy sauce.
Sashimi is technically not sushi, but often finds itself on the menu along with nigiri and maki. Consisting of sliced raw fish served without rice, chef Mendoza says sashimi is “a chopsticks-only dining style”.
Don’t forget– all sushi should be eaten in one bite.
When it comes to sushi, there are usually three additions that are offered: wasabi, soy sauce (shoyu) and pickled ginger (gari).
Wasabi does not need to be added to everything, especially nigiri, which is usually already seasoned. And unless you are dining on sashimi, it is notcustom to mix wasabi and soy sauce.
“A more traditional way of eating sushi is to take the fish, dip it into soy sauce and put the wasabi on the middle of the fish,” Mendoza says.
Soy sauce is not to be poured over the food at the table – there is usually a dipping dish.
Ginger can be used to cleanse your palate to clean the fish taste. Mendoza advises that ginger can also be used to add soy sauce to the roll by simply brushing it with chopsticks.
Mendoza says when it comes to drinking alcohol, it starts with a toast, called a “Kampai”.
“It is not customary to pour yourself a drink – rather, people are expected to keep each other’s drinks topped up,” he explains.
When eating rice or soup, Mendoza says to pick up the bowl up with the left hand and use chopsticks with the right hand. Noodles are slurped!
Finally, Mendoza explains it is important to remember when you are not using your chopsticks or when you have finished eating, lay them down in front of you with the tip to the left.
Nippon Sushi – Southfield
25242 Evergreen Rd,