Sushi Etiquette: Do’s and don’ts when eating sushi in a traditional setting

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Sushi Etiquette Do's and don'ts when eating sushi in a traditional setting


When it comes to savoring sushi, an artful and delectable Japanese cuisine, more than just a burst of flavors awaits you; it’s a cultural experience deeply rooted in tradition and etiquette. Whether you find yourself in the elegant ambiance of Masuta Japanese Fusion Restaurant or enjoying a casual meal at a local sushi joint, understanding and respecting sushi etiquette is essential. In this guide, we’ll delve into the do’s and don’ts of enjoying sushi in a traditional setting, ensuring you fully immerse yourself in this culinary journey, especially when you dine at Masuta Japanese Fusion Restaurant.

The Importance of Sushi Etiquette

Before delving into the specifics of sushi etiquette, it’s crucial to understand why it matters. Sushi is not just a meal; it’s an art form that combines aesthetics, precision, and respect for the ingredients. Adhering to proper sushi etiquette not only shows your appreciation for the chef’s craftsmanship but also enhances your overall dining experience. It also demonstrates cultural respect and politeness, making your meal more enjoyable for everyone involved.

The Do’s of Sushi Etiquette

  • Respect the Chef: When dining at a traditional sushi bar, the itamae (sushi chef) is the central figure. Show respect by acknowledging the chef with a polite nod or a simple “hello” when you arrive. Trust the chef’s expertise, and don’t be afraid to ask questions or seek recommendations.
  • Use Your Hands: While chopsticks are acceptable for certain sushi items, it is customary to use your fingers for many pieces, especially nigiri sushi. The proper technique is to lightly dip your fingertips into a small dish of soy sauce and then gently flip the sushi so that the fish touches the soy sauce, not the rice. This ensures you don’t soak the rice, which can make it crumble.
  • Eat in One Bite: Sushi is designed to be eaten in one bite to savor the combination of flavors and textures. Attempting to cut it in half or taking multiple bites can be considered impolite and disrupts the chef’s intended experience.
  • Chew Quietly: Sushi bars typically have a quiet and respectful atmosphere. Avoid making loud noises while chewing or slurping your soup or tea. It’s essential to maintain a peaceful ambiance for yourself and other diners.
  • Use Gari (Pickled Ginger) as a Palate Cleanser: Gari, the pickled ginger served alongside sushi, is meant to cleanse your palate between different types of sushi. Use it sparingly and don’t place it on top of your sushi as it may overpower the delicate flavors.
  • Sip Your Soup: If your meal includes miso soup, sip it directly from the bowl rather than using a spoon. It’s perfectly acceptable to lift the bowl to your lips and enjoy the flavors.
  • Enjoy Sake Properly: If you choose to enjoy sake with your sushi, be mindful of the proper sake etiquette. Pour sake for your dining companions, and they will return the favor. When receiving sake, hold your cup with both hands as a sign of respect.
  • Engage in Minimal Conversation: While polite conversation is encouraged, try to keep it to a minimum when the chef is preparing your sushi. This allows you to fully appreciate the artistry and precision of the chef’s work.

The Don’ts of Sushi Etiquette

  • Don’t Dip Rice in Soy Sauce: It’s considered a faux pas to dip the rice part of the sushi into soy sauce. Doing so can make the rice fall apart and is seen as disrespectful to the chef’s craftsmanship. Instead, dip the fish side lightly into the soy sauce.
  • Avoid Overloading with Wasabi: Most sushi chefs expertly apply the right amount of wasabi between the fish and rice. Adding extra wasabi can overwhelm the balance of flavors. Trust the chef’s judgment.
  • Never Rub Your Chopsticks Together: It’s a common misconception that rubbing your chopsticks together is a sign of cleaning. In fine dining establishments, this can be seen as an insult to the quality of the utensils. If you have concerns about the chopsticks, ask for a replacement discreetly.
  • Don’t Pass Food with Chopsticks: Passing food from one person to another using chopsticks is considered impolite and reminiscent of a funeral ritual in Japanese culture. Instead, use the communal serving utensils or offer a plate.
  • Resist the Urge to Drown Sushi in Soy Sauce: While soy sauce enhances the flavor of sushi, drenching it in soy sauce is disrespectful and masks the delicate flavors. Use a minimal amount and avoid creating a puddle on your plate.
  • Avoid Mixing Different Types of Sushi: Each type of sushi is crafted to offer a unique flavor profile. Mixing different types on your plate or in your mouth can disrupt the experience and is generally discouraged.
  • Don’t Use Chopsticks for Sashimi: Sashimi, thin slices of raw fish served without rice, should be eaten with your fingers or with specialized sashimi chopsticks. Using regular chopsticks for sashimi is considered inappropriate.
  • Refrain from Taking Photos Obsessively: While capturing your culinary experience can be fun and memorable, excessive photography can disrupt the atmosphere and the experience of other diners. Be discreet and respectful when taking photos.


Sushi etiquette is a blend of tradition, respect, and appreciation for the artistry that goes into crafting this beloved Japanese cuisine. By adhering to the do’s and avoiding the don’ts of sushi etiquette, you can fully immerse yourself in the experience, savoring not only the flavors but also the cultural significance of each bite. Remember, sushi is more than just a meal; it’s a journey into the heart of Japanese culinary heritage, and observing proper etiquette enhances that journey for both you and the chefs who prepare it. So, the next time you sit down for sushi in a traditional setting, embrace the customs and enjoy your meal to the fullest.

Experience the enchanting realm of sushi at Masuta Japanese Fusion, where you can dive into a harmonious blend of flavors that honor sushi’s rich historical origins while embracing modern palates. Visit us at 1712-1714 Sheepshead Bay Rd, Brooklyn NY 11235, and embark on a culinary journey that goes beyond boundaries, tantalizing your senses. Discover the seamless integration of flavors, traditions, and cultural influences that distinguishes Masuta Japanese Fusion as an unquestionably exceptional dining experience.

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