What Not to Do While Eating Sushi?

Sushi, the popular Japanese delicacy consisting of vinegared rice topped with various ingredients, has gained immense popularity worldwide. When indulging in sushi, it’s important to be mindful of certain etiquette and practices to fully appreciate the flavors and cultural significance. In this article, we will explore some common mistakes people make while eating sushi and provide guidance on what not to do. By following these suggestions, you can ensure an enjoyable and respectful sushi dining experience.

Don’t Mix Wasabi with Soy Sauce

One common mistake made by sushi enthusiasts is mixing wasabi directly into their soy sauce. Wasabi, a pungent Japanese horseradish, is meant to be enjoyed in moderation. Soy sauce, on the other hand, serves as a seasoning for sushi. To savor the flavors properly, it is best to dip a small amount of sushi into the soy sauce, ensuring the rice doesn’t soak up too much liquid. Place a small dab of wasabi directly onto the sushi, allowing its distinct flavor to enhance the taste without overpowering it.

Don’t Dip Rice-Side Down

When dipping your sushi into soy sauce, avoid dipping it rice-side down. Doing so can cause the rice to absorb excessive amounts of sauce, leading to an imbalance of flavors. Instead, gently dip the fish or topping side of the sushi into the soy sauce, allowing the sauce to complement the flavors without overwhelming them. This way, you can fully appreciate the delicate balance between the sushi’s ingredients.

Don’t Rub Chopsticks Together

Some people have the habit of rubbing their chopsticks together to remove any splinters or rough edges. However, this action is considered disrespectful in Japanese culture. It implies that the chopsticks are of poor quality, which can be offensive to the sushi chef. Instead, handle your chopsticks with care and use them as they are without rubbing them together.

Don’t Eat Ginger with Sushi

Ginger, typically served alongside sushi, serves a specific purpose. It acts as a palate cleanser between different sushi pieces, allowing you to fully appreciate the distinct flavors of each bite. Therefore, it’s best to avoid eating ginger together with the sushi itself. Save the ginger for intermittent palate refreshment and enjoy it between different types of sushi.

Don’t Use Too Much Sauce

Sauce, such as soy sauce or other condiments, can greatly enhance the flavor of sushi. However, it’s important to exercise restraint when applying sauce. Using an excessive amount can overpower the delicate flavors of the fish and other ingredients, masking their natural taste. Apply sauce sparingly, allowing the sushi’s intrinsic flavors to shine through while still enjoying the added seasoning.

Don’t Order Too Much at Once

When dining at a sushi restaurant, it’s recommended not to order all your sushi at once. Sushi is best enjoyed fresh, and ordering too much at once can result in some pieces sitting for too long and losing their optimal taste and texture. Instead, order a few pieces at a time and savor each one before placing another order. This approach ensures you receive the freshest sushi and allows you to pace your meal accordingly.

Don’t Leave Your Chopsticks Stuck in Rice

Leaving chopsticks sticking out of a bowl of rice is considered impolite and is reminiscent of a funeral ritual in Japanese culture. It is best to avoid this practice while dining, as it may offend those who are familiar with the cultural significance. Instead, place your chopsticks neatly across the soy sauce dish or on the designated chopstick rest provided by the restaurant.

Don’t Mix Different Types of Sushi

Sushi comes in a variety of types, each with its own distinct flavor profile. To fully appreciate the unique taste of each piece, it is recommended not to mix different types of sushi on your plate. Enjoying them separately allows you to savor the individual flavors and textures, enhancing your overall dining experience.

Don’t Play with Your Food

While it’s natural to be excited about the delicious sushi in front of you, it’s important to maintain proper dining etiquette. Avoid playing with your food, such as excessively stirring wasabi into your soy sauce or creating sushi towers. Treat your sushi with respect and enjoy it as intended, appreciating the skill and craftsmanship that went into creating each piece.

Don’t Eat Sushi That Has Been Sitting for Too Long

Sushi is known for its freshness and should ideally be consumed soon after preparation. Avoid eating sushi that has been sitting for an extended period, as it may lose its optimal taste and texture. Look for signs of freshness, such as the sheen on the fish and the firmness of the rice. If the sushi appears dull or the fish seems dry, it’s best to opt for a fresher piece.

Don’t Overeat

While sushi can be incredibly tempting, it’s important to practice portion control and avoid overeating. Savor each piece and take the time to appreciate the flavors. Eating too much sushi in one sitting can lead to discomfort and overshadow the enjoyment of the meal. Listen to your body’s cues and eat in moderation for a more satisfying and balanced dining experience.

Don’t Drink Sake Before Eating Sushi

Sake, a traditional Japanese rice wine, is often enjoyed alongside sushi. However, it is generally best to refrain from drinking sake before eating sushi. Sake can enhance the flavors of the sushi, but consuming it beforehand may dull your taste buds and diminish your ability to fully appreciate the intricate flavors of the sushi pieces. Instead, savor the sake after enjoying the sushi to experience the complementary notes.

Don’t Forget to Say “Thank You”

When dining at a sushi restaurant, it is customary to express gratitude to the sushi chef for their culinary expertise. Before leaving the restaurant, don’t forget to say “thank you” or “arigato gozaimasu” to show your appreciation. This simple gesture acknowledges the chef’s efforts and creates a positive connection between the diner and the sushi chef.


Eating sushi is not only a culinary experience but also an opportunity to embrace Japanese culture and etiquette. By avoiding common mistakes and practicing proper sushi etiquette, you can fully immerse yourself in the flavors and respect the traditions behind this beloved cuisine. Remember to handle chopsticks with care, dip sushi toppings in soy sauce, and enjoy ginger as a palate cleanser. Pace your meal, use sauces sparingly, and appreciate the uniqueness of each sushi piece. By following these guidelines, you can elevate your sushi dining experience and show respect to the artistry behind this exquisite cuisine.


1. Can I use a fork instead of chopsticks when eating sushi?

While it’s common to use chopsticks when eating sushi, it is perfectly acceptable to use a fork if you’re more comfortable with it. The most important aspect is to enjoy the flavors and experience of sushi, regardless of the utensil you choose.

2. Is it okay to eat sushi with my hands?

Yes, it is perfectly acceptable to eat sushi with your hands. In fact, some traditional sushi bars encourage this method, as it allows for a more direct connection between the diner and the sushi.

3. Can I customize my sushi order?

Certainly! Many sushi restaurants offer the option to customize your sushi order according to your preferences. Feel free to ask for modifications or substitutions if you have dietary restrictions or specific flavor preferences.

4. Is it acceptable to take sushi home as leftovers?

Sushi is best enjoyed fresh, and its taste and texture can deteriorate when refrigerated and reheated. It is generally recommended to consume sushi immediately and avoid taking it home as leftovers.

5. How should I handle wasabi if I don’t like spicy food?

If you don’t enjoy spicy flavors, it’s perfectly acceptable to skip the wasabi or use a small amount. The purpose of wasabi is to enhance the taste, so adjust the quantity to suit your personal preference.

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