How To Eat Sushi And Sashimi For The Best Culinary Experience

Knowing how to eat sushi and sashimi properly will take your dining experience to the next level. It is an elegant meal that is not only good for you but also steeped in tradition. 


You won’t get booted from your favorite sushi restaurant for eating it the wrong way. 


That being said, why not show up to your next outing with friends armed with the skill and know-how that will even impress the “itamae”?


What is an itamae you ask? 


The “itamae” (pronounced “eat-ah-my”) is the head sushi chef, and its literal translation means “in front of the board”. This board being the one your itamae is slicing and preparing the sushi on. 


To earn this distinguished title, a chef must first go through rigorous training that can take up to 10 years.


There are numerous skill sets an itamae has to master before serving sushi and sashimi in a traditional Japanese restaurant. 


First and foremost are expert knife skills. They must be able to slice fish with expertise and extreme precision, different fish require different preparation. This is done simply to bring out the best flavor profile for each type of fish. The itamae is responsible for creating the perfect balance of art and cuisine. Their dishes must be both visually stunning and delicious.


Sawa Hibachi Steakhouse & Sushi Bar in Boynton Beach is proud to offer you a traditional Japanese dining experience. You will love everything – from our sushi and sashimi to our delightful lunchtime bento box! Visit our website to see all we have to offer. For the best sushi in Boynton Beach – Sawa is the place to go!


Now let’s get to the “meat” of the matter at hand. Below we will show you how to eat sushi and get the best experience possible.

Sushi 101 – the basics 

Let’s start at the beginning and describe the four- yes, four types of sushi available at a Japanese restaurant.


  • Sushi Roll – Sushi is simply fish rolled into rice and seaweed. The sushi is made by first slicing fish into thin slices. They are made long enough to fill the length of the nori – or seaweed. The rice is not just your over-the-counter variety. It’s made from white, short-grain Japanese rice seasoned with rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. After the itamae has rolled the sushi, he then slices the roll into pieces for serving.

    There are two types of rolled sushi and knowing what they are called will surely give you bonus points with the itamae and wait staff!

    • Uramaki – This sushi roll has the rice on the outside with the nori wrapped around the filling.
    • Maki – This type of sushi roll has rice and filling wrapped inside the nori.

  • Nigiri – This is simply the fish or topping laid over the sushi rice.

  • Sashimi – This is the stand-alone slice of fish served by itself. It is considered the traditional way to best enjoy the natural flavor of the fish.

  • Temaki – This is a sushi hand roll. It always includes fish and rice with various other fillings. It is rolled into a large cone shape with nori on the outside.

Soy sauce, wasabi, and ginger – the right way to use these condiments.

First and foremost, making a cloudy mess in your soy sauce bowl by mixing in wasabi is considered poor etiquette! 


If you are eating a sushi roll, the imitate has already added an appropriate amount of wasabi inside. If you do want to add some wasabi, brush it on with your chopstick or a slice of ginger.


Fresh ginger is provided to cleanse your palate between bites and should never be eaten at the same time as a piece of sushi.

How to eat sushi and sashimi – proper etiquette and form.

When eating maki and uramaki, you should dip the roll at an angle into the soy sauce. The objective is to get the hint of soy sauce, not to soak the rice lose the wonderful taste of fish in your roll. 


For nigiri, there is a real tradition to the etiquette for eating this sushi treat. 


First off, use your hands! 


Take it between your thumb and middle finger and turn it upside down. Gently dip it into the soy sauce, fish-side down. You should never dip the rice into the soy sauce. Doing this will make a mess in the bowl and saturate the rice, changing the flavor profile. 


After dipping it into the soy sauce, you should place it in your mouth so the fish rests on your tongue. Let the fish sit for a moment, allowing you to savor the fish as the fats melt into your mouth. 


Nigiri topped with eel or that already has a sauce on it should not be dipped in soy sauce. Try to avoid adding wasabi as well, if you can help it. You should always eat your nigiri in one bite. It was made that way and keeps you from making a mess.


And finally, we move onto the sashimi! This is the best way to appreciate why you came to Sawa in the first place – to taste super fresh, hand-selected fish. You can brush on some wasabi with your chopsticks or a slice of ginger. Take the sashimi with your chopsticks and gently dip it into the soy sauce. Eating it naked, with no condiments is also a treat unto itself.


So now you know the basics of how to eat sushi. We hope you learned something new and look forward to your next visit!

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