Japanese Essentials: How to go about ordering Sushi at a Restaurant
Origins of Sushi
Sushi embarked its journey around the 8th century in Japan. Since then, it has reached the stomach of many people around the world. The word “Sushi” is definitely not foreign to you and me. Nowadays, sushi restaurants can be seen around in most places and sushi can be found even in the convenience store. Are there times where you just want to treat yourself to some quality sushi?
Walking into a Sushi Restaurant
Assuming that you have walked into a sushi restaurant and the crews greeted you with a line that goes “いらっしゃいませ！” (irasshaimase) accompanied by a smile on their faces. Now, if they asked you, “Where would you like to be seated at?” Would you choose the regular tables where you can easily reach out for the sushi on the conveyor belt or the bar counter where you can watch the chef in preparing various kinds of sushi?
Well… the best spot to sit in a sushi restaurant would be no other than the bar counter where freshly made sushi will be served in front of you. Witness and appreciate how your sushi is made would make your food taste better right? However, if you see no point in wasting time to order sushi from the waiter, go ahead and sit at the regular tables to grab as many sushi as you want from the conveyor belt.
Appreciating your Sushi
Next step would be choosing what to eat. Looking at the restaurant’s menu which offers you a wide variety of sushi leaves you to be indecisive. Eating in a sushi restaurant is not cheap, and you would want to make sure that every mouth you had eaten is worth your money. With a wide variety of choices available on the menu, people would usually order the sushi that they are most familiar with or whichever they eyed on first.
Being able to truly appreciate the sushi is equivalent to recognizing the chef’s effort of choosing and picking the freshest fish in the market every morning. They worked hard to ensure that quality food is served to the customers. In return, we should learn to appreciate the sushi.
Types of Sushi Meals
If so, how would you order? Randomize your order? Choose set meals to be safe? Leave it up to the chef? Ultimately, the choice is still yours.
Here, you can go freestyle in ordering the sushi. If you are a frequent customer of a sushi restaurant, you would probably opt for this option as you may have already tasted most of the sushi and know your own preferences well.
Go for this option if you prefer set meals that have a fixed price. This is usually cheaper than ordering individual dishes. Not only can you get to enjoy a variety of sushi, but also eating at a cheaper cost.
By saying “Omakase” means the chef would decide for your course. This is the wisest choice you could ever make in a sushi restaurant. The chef would definitely know the fishes and the ingredients well. From choosing to preparing to serving. Each and every process involves the chef’s effort and definitely, he will know what would be the freshest and tastiest choice for the day. Of course, the chef would take it that you are flexible with the bill.
Have you decided which option you would opt for the next time you visit a sushi restaurant?
Frequently Asked Questions regarding eating Sushi
Apart from not knowing how to order sushi, many people are often curious about the following questions:
“Should I eat the sushi with soy sauce and wasabi?”.
Just a little will do. By dipping too much of the soy sauce and wasabi makes the taste of the fish to be overpowered by the sauce, which is undesired by the chef. Remember how the chef goes to the fish market to search for the freshest fish in order to serve quality sushi to its customer? To enjoy the fish to the fullest, it is best not to dip too much soy sauce and wasabi.
“What is the ginger doing on my sushi plate?”
You have just tasted different kinds of sushi and you can’t enjoy the other sushi if you don’t clear the taste in your mouth. Use the ginger to help you to neutralize the taste of the sushi lingering in your mouth!
“Is it true that you must eat the sushi with the fish facing downwards?”
Fish plays a big part in the sushi and a good sushi means that the fish would stick to the rice. Facing downwards allows your tongue to taste the fish first which allow you to maximize the taste of the fish. So, yes. Eat the sushi with the fish facing downwards, you may not see many people doing that but that is the correct way!
By learning how to order sushi gives you more confidence to dine in a sushi restaurant. Always remember these 3 O’s: “Okonomi”, “Okimari” and “Omakase” and of course the meanings! After all, the purpose of food is to keep us full and happy. There is no absolutely right way in eating your food so long as you enjoy it! However, you should constantly remind yourself the amount of effort it takes for the chef to create wonderful dishes for the customers and appreciate the food and their efforts!
Happy dining in the sushi restaurant next time! Follow us on Twitter @cotoacademy to get Japanese tips every day!
Credits: Norio NAKAYAMA