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Sushi 101 – How to Order Sushi at a Japanese Restaurant

I thought I knew how to order sushi until I went to Japan.  In Japan, the fish varieties are much broader and you won’t find California or dragon rolls in a standard Japanese restaurant.  The menu can be overwhelming at first but after having sushi almost every other day, I think I know what to order now, at least the most common ones .  Here’s a sushi guide that I have created .  Oh how I wish I knew these Japanese fish names before I went to Japan!

Sushi Guide

5 Basic Sushi Vocabularies You Should Know

1. Omakase $$$ [Leave it to the chef]

Omakase means “I will leave it to you”.  When a restaurant offers “omakase”, it means it’s a set menu decided by the chef.  The chef selects the sushi varieties and side dishes and serves them to you one course at a time.  Typically the course will start with a light tasting fish like tai (sea bream / red snapper) to a stronger tasting fish like salmon and end with maki sushi (simple sushi rolls wrapped with seaweed).

2. Kaiten Sushi $ [conveyor belt sushi]

Kaiten sushi is conveyor belt style sushi. The sushi is typically placed on color coded trays with different price points.  The sushi circulate on a conveyor belt in front of you and you can pick off your favorite ones anytime.  You can also order specific sushi from the menu or directly from the chef in front of you.

3. Shoyu [soy sauce]

Unlike in the US, restaurants in Japan will not serve you a dollop of wasabi with your sushi.  Typically wasabi is already been added between the rice and fish topping.  All you need to do is dip the fish side  of the sushi in soy sauce and enjoy.  Sometimes they don’t offer soy sauce because the sushi is best eaten as is.

4. Gari [pickled ginger]

Pickled ginger slices in either yellow or pink are usually served on a separate tray or on your sushi tray.  The ginger slices help cleanse your palette between each dish and has minor anti-microbial properties.  You can always ask for more from the waiter or chef.

5. Maguro [tuna] Sake [salmon] Ebi [shrimp] and so on…

Basic Japanese fish names are used all around the world.  Memorize your favorite fish varieties in Japanese and try ordering them at your next restaurant visit!

   Want to learn Japanese sushi names?  Visit Juju’s Sprinkles Shop to download these cards and sushi guide instantly!

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