Sushi etiquette 101

April 28, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Learn the proper and traditional ways to eat sushi. Tips from Jessica Furui, Sake Sommelier for Ozumo restaurant in Oakland.

Sushi tips:

1. Pour very little soy into the soy dish, because often we don't use all of it and it is considered wasteful. We can always pour a little more.

2. Dip the fish into the soy, not the rice. Two reasons for this...one-the soy seasons the fish and not the rice and two- the rice doesn't disintegrate into the soy dish. Nigiri sushi is really about how good the rice is...the fish is just a topping.

3. When eating nigiri sushi, it's ok to use your hands. Nigiri should be eaten in one bite with the fish touching your tongue, not the rice.

4. Since rice is the most important ingredient at the sushi bar, it's best to taste the rice before you order a lot of food. Two critical elements at the sushi bar are tamago (egg omelette) and saba (mackerel). So by ordering just one order of saba, one can tell how well the fish has been cured and the quality of rice (undercooked, overcooked, too seasoned, etc). These two items will demonstrate the prowess of the chef (or lack there of, in some cases.)

5. Ginger is to cleanse the palate between bites, not an addition to the fish or roll.

6. Generally, wasabi should be used sparingly. It will cover up the delicate flavors if used in excess.

7. Typically, you would pour sake and beer for your friends and they would pour for you. It is OK to offer your Chef a beer or sake as well.

8. When asking for the check, you could say, "Go-chi-so-sama-deshita," this means that the meal was delicious and also that you are ready for your check.

About Jessica Furui:
Jessica Furui first tasted premium sake while living in Truckee, California 10 years ago. This was her first experience working in a sushi bar and it inspired many aspects of her life there after. Moving to San Francisco in 2003 gave her the opportunity to further her passion for Japanese food culture and sake. Hired at Ozumo in 2004 as a server, she then had the opportunity to train as a sushi chef and worked for 2 years in her dream job, all the while loving and learning the story of sake its production. As of June 2008, she has been the Ozumo Sake Sommelier responsible for buying new product, staff education, writing menu descriptions and making product recommendations to guests. In the summer of 2008, she took the Sake Professional Course Level 1 given by author John Gauntner and passed. She recently traveled to Japan to complete Level 2. Jessica has been to Japan every year for 4 years as a guest of several breweries around the country, witnessing first hand how this beautiful elixir is created. She has also been closely involved with the Joy of Sake event held in San Francisco for the past 4 years. Jessica will be heading up monthly sake tastings as well as writing a monthly newsletter for Ozumo.


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