Can you eat sushi with your hands?

In this article, we will answer the question “Can you eat sushi with your hands?” and discuss how to eat it?

Can you eat sushi with your hands?

Yes, you can eat sushi with your hands. Sushi is traditionally eaten with the hands by the majority of Japanese people. It’s especially appropriate while eating nigiri sushi (single pieces of sushi with meat or fish on top of rice). Using chopsticks may seem cleaner to some, but most Japanese restaurants require that you cleanse your hands with a hot towel before using them.

Sushi eating etiquette: the rules of the game

  • Before your lunch begins, you may be given a heated, wet towel (known as an oshibori). It’s okay to wash your hands and attempt to fold it back in the same order you received them.
  • Chopsticks should not be rubbed together in order to avoid cross-contamination. The shoyu dish or holder should be positioned parallel to your body while not in use. When you’re done eating, put them back where you found them.
  • Ask for something that isn’t on the menu if you don’t see it since the sushi-ya can have something unusual or seasonal that isn’t mentioned. It’s OK to inquire, and the itamae will usually be pleased with your sincerity.
  • Wasabi should not be added to the shoyu dish immediately. We believe the itamae’s balance of wasabi to fish in nigiri-zushi is just right. Some of us want a little bit extra, and you can always smuggle some in on the fish or alongside it, depending on your preference.
  • Nigiri-zushi (sushi) may be eaten with your hands. The only way to eat sashimi properly is with a pair of chopsticks.
  • Nigiri-zushi should be eaten with the fish (neta) being dipped into the shoyu rather than the rice (which will soak up too much shoyu). In addition, since rice absorbs so much shoyu, adding too much of it can overshadow the flavor of the meal and may also cause the rice to fall into your shoyu dish, turning it into soup.
  • Never use your chopsticks to pick up food off of someone else’s plate and then put it in your mouth. When transporting food in this manner, it is customary to utilize the end that is held in your hand.
  • Take a mouthful of nigiri sushi in one go. This isn’t always simple (or even feasible) in North America, where some sushi-ya create enormous pieces, but conventional Japanese sushi-ya itamae will make the pieces just the right size. In North America, give it your all, and don’t stress if you can’t get it all in your mouth! 

If it’s physically impossible for you to follow appropriate sushi etiquette, it’s not your responsibility.

  • As a palette cleanser, gari (ginger) is often consumed in between portions of various kinds of sushi. As with sushi, it’s not supposed to be consumed in one mouthful.
  • While slurping noodles is fine, doing so with soup is not; yet, a little amount is acceptable by Japanese norms.
  • If you don’t get a spoon with your soup at a more typical sushi-ya, don’t ask for one. Chopsticks are used to guide the solid portions of the soup to your mouth, not to lift up the bowl.
  • It’s considerate to give the itamae a beer or sake (but of course not required). If you see him again, he could remember you and be kind to you.
  • When eating at a Japanese restaurant, never use chopsticks to give food to the other person. This represents the passing of a departed loved one’s bones during a traditional funeral. Instead of passing a dish, let a person help themselves to the food.
  • Also, never leave your chopsticks hanging out of your rice after putting them in with them. As with incense sticks, this has a similar look and feel and conjures up images of Japanese funeral symbolism and prayers to the dead.
  • Sushi (or rice in general) does not need the use of sake, only sashimi must. Due to the fact that both dishes are made from rice, many people believe they don’t go well together and shouldn’t be eaten together. Sushi and sashimi pair well with green tea.
  • Assuming you’re drinking alcoholic drinks, it’s normal to share your drink with someone else (if you’re not drinking alone). Refill the glasses of your other diners while you’re at the table. Drink the rest of your beverage and hold it slightly towards your eating companion if you need more.
  • Pouring beverages is a tradition reserved for the most “respected” member of the group. The process of serving beverages is quite hierarchical. For instance, a professor serving beverages to his pupils during a meal might do so. 

The freshmen would be looked after by the senior members of the class. If not because of their status, it would be the person who hosted the event or invited everyone. You automatically become the host if you dined with someone you invited.

To learn more about eating sushi with your hands click here

Other FAQs about Sushi that you may be interested in.

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In this article, we answered the question “Can you eat sushi with your hands?” and we discussed how to eat it?