In many cities in the United States, you basically can’t walk down the block without walking past a sushi restaurant. That is not a bad thing, certainly, as sushi is generally delicious.
The quality varies, though. If you find a good restaurant, you’ll walk or drive a long distance to get there. If the restaurant isn’t so good, however, you might never set foot inside that restaurant. Really, if it is a bad sushi restaurant, you shouldn’t eat there. In general, unless you are literally starving to death, you shouldn’t eat at a bad restaurant of any type. If you have ever had food poisoning, you know what I’m talking about. That is an experience you just can’t forget. There are actually several types of food poisoning, and symptoms may vary, but you don’t want it.
Most sushi restaurants in the United States and Canada tend to get a few things wrong. That doesn’t mean they are bad restaurants, per se, but they’re not truly authentic.
Here are ten things people from North America get wrong when they go out for sushi. Also, you should be warned that you might get surprisingly hungry looking at these images. If you like sushi and you are the sort that enjoys looking at pictures of food, you almost definitely will get hungry.
1. The Soup and the Slurping
In the United States, it is considered rude to slurp when you are eating soup. I am not sure why. It is sort of a pain to eat soup and not just drink the last bits out of the bowl. I suppose you could just not finish the entire bowl, true, but that would be wasting soup. Why should eating be more difficult than it needs to be, anyway?
If you will notice, there is no spoon in this image. You are not supposed to use a spoon. You are just supposed to
drink the stuff. In Japan, it is often rude to use a spoon to eat soup.
The soup looks great, and I wish I could try it.
2. The Nigiri and the Soy Sauce
Apparently, you are supposed to dip nigiri into soy sauce—fish first. According to certain experts, the flavor of the soy sauce can overpower the flavor of the fish because the rice tends to absorb it, which is obviously a bad thing.
In case you are not familiar with the term, nigiri refers to a certain type of sushi. There is fish, thinly sliced, over rice. Most of the time that fish is raw, but not always. Other types of seafood may be used. For example, squid may be used.
Considering rice is generally pretty cheap but seafood can be quite expensive, it makes sense that you would not want to overpower the seafood.
3. The Wasabi and the Soy Sauce
A lot of people in North America mix wasabi in their soy sauce. I do not much care for wasabi, but everyone I know who does like it always mixes wasabi into their soy sauce when going out for sushi. I thought that was just the standard thing to do. I was wrong, apparently.
According to the experts, you shouldn’t do that, as the mixture sort of ruins the unique tastes of both, which is definitely a bad thing. It also sort of makes a lot of sense when you think about it.
The experts think that you should dip one end of your sushi into the soy sauce and the other into the wasabi, which seems like a reasonable idea.
Soy sauce is one of those products many of us use, but most don’t think much about. It is actually of Chinese origin, and it has been around for a couple of thousand years. It did not end up in Japan until about the 7th century or so.
Naturally, of course, the medical experts can’t really decide if the stuff is good for you or terrible for you. For a long time, almost everyone thought eggs were practically the worst thing in the world for anyone to eat. That is not really the case anymore.
4. The Chopsticks and the Rubbing
I did not know people rubbed their chopsticks together; that might be because I don’t have many friends and therefore only dine with a few people.
However, people apparently do rub their chopsticks together in order to remove splinters. I never considered the possibility of getting a splinter on my tongue, honestly, but it sounds awful.
Anyway, doing so is apparently rude according to a chef who was speaking to OpenTable; according to that chef, it suggests the quality of the chopsticks are poor, which sort of makes sense. Of course, I would think most people would prefer offending the chef than ending up with a splinter in the tongue, but I could be wrong.
In my case, it doesn’t really matter. I haven’t used chopsticks in ages. I freely admit I just can’t manage to work them properly. I have tried and I have tried, but I always end up spilling my food all over the place, and that’s just a waste of good food.
5. The Pickled Ginger
I actually did not know people put that pickled ginger stuff on top of their sushi rolls until recently, but apparently that is a thing certain people do.
The experts confirm what I had been told since I started eating sushi; it is there as a palate cleanser.
I suppose it is fine to eat it after your meal if you’re still hungry and want a snack, but it isn’t a topping. It is way too strong. If you put it on your sushi, how can you taste the seafood? Really, when you think about it, putting the ginger on top is sort of a waste of money.
It is pretty tasty, honestly. I get why people do what they do by putting it on top, but they are sort of ruining the sushi experience, and sushi isn’t cheap. Well, there are places you can get cheap sushi, but you probably don’t want to eat that stuff. When it comes to seafood, you generally get what you pay for.
6. The Passing of the Sushi
One expert states that it is sort of taboo for people to use chopsticks to pass sushi to one another. You are supposed to just pass around the plates, which makes sense. There is definitely less chance of a mess that way. As I believe I mentioned, I always make a mess with chopsticks.
They are not the easiest things to use if you grew up using a fork and knife and never really had a good reason to properly learn to use them, honestly. As you get older, learning new skills becomes a lot more difficult.
The reason it is taboo, apparently, has nothing to do with hygiene. At funerals in Japan, according to FluentU, bone fragments of the dead person are passed around using chopsticks. I have never been to a funeral in Japan, so I can’t personally verify this information; all I can do is report what I have read.
Anyway, passing around the sushi with the chopsticks is apparently a reminder of that ritual. No one really likes to think about death when they are eating.
7. Don’t Drink The Sake
According to a site called Vinepair, one should not pair sake with anything rice-based.
This is because sake is brewed from rice; if you are drinking it with sushi, you are just adding more rice to the meal. Apparently, that fills you up faster.
It is recommended that you drink tea or some sort of fruit wine.
Rice is, of course, a food consumed regularly by a good portion of the world; therefore, a lot of cultures and religions find it to be extremely significant. There is a good reason that rice is often thrown by relatives at weddings. The custom seems to have fallen out of favor in recent years, but it is definitely still done.
8. The Soup and the Sushi
You are apparently supposed to consume your soup after your sushi, not before. It is apparently supposed to help you digest all of the sushi you just consumed, according to the experts anyway. I don’t know how well it works, but that is the theory.
In most restaurants in North America, of course, you generally order the soup before the meal. I’m not sure why that is, either.
Soup is also surprisingly expensive in most restaurants. If you can buy a can of vegetable soup for two dollars at the supermarket, there is no reason it should cost nine dollars for a cup of the stuff at the restaurant.
There are certain soups that are worth the money, of course, especially if it is seafood-based and cooked in house; however, restaurants do tend to overcharge in regard to certain items. If you have ever had to pay six dollars for a plate of fries, you know precisely what I mean.
9. The Nigiri and the Hands
According to the experts, it is perfectly acceptable to eat Nigiri with one’s hands. In fact, that’s the best way to eat it. You don’t need to use chopsticks.
Sometimes, people use utensils to eat food and they need not do so. For example, a lot of people use forks and knives to eat pizza. I suppose that makes sense, as pizza can be sort of greasy, but generally there is no reason to do so.
I also know a lot of people that use a fork and knife to eat hot wings, and that just seems wrong. If there was ever a food designed to be eaten with one’s hands, it is the hot wing. People like to look all fancy, though.
When I speak of the ‘hot wing’, I am mostly referring to the Buffalo wing; as one might guess, it was ‘invented’ in the city of Buffalo, New York. They are extremely popular in the United States. It is pretty much one of the country’s regional dishes. You can get them at pretty much every restaurant in the country these days, it seems, but they have not been around as long as you might think. In fact, they only date back to the 1960s. Nevertheless, there are chains of restaurants devoted to the food. For example, there is Buffalo Wild Wings, which was founded about 36 years ago in the city of Columbus, Ohio. There are now over 1,000 Buffalo Wild Wings restaurants, and they can be found in several countries, including the United States, Mexico, India, Vietnam, and Canada. The restaurant chain actually employs more than 40,000 people.
10. The Order of the Sushi
There is an order in which you are supposed to be eating your sushi, which is a lesson most of us probably need to learn. According to experts, you shouldn’t just eat whatever happens to look good at any particular moment. You start with the white fish, and then you move on to the fattier fish—like tuna. You then move on to the oilier fish.
It is a process, apparently, and one that should be properly respected if you truly wish to enjoy your meal.