8 Things You Didn’t Know About Sushi

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1 | The best seats are at the counter

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The perfect place to sit in the restaurant is at the counter in front of the sushi chef. You’ll get to watch the sushi master prepare each morsel of sushi, like an artist sculpting a masterpiece. Think of it as eating at the chef’s table.

2 | Sushi vs sashimi

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Opening up a menu can be overwhelming, so let’s clear up some of the confusion. Sushi is the name for the preparation of vinegared rice with fish with rice. Sashimi, on the other hand, is a dish that only consists of raw fish. Within the sushi family, the most common types are:

Nigiri

The classic version of raw fish atop a small hand-shaped mound of rice:

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Maki

Fish, rice and accompaniments in a roll with dry seaweed on the outside:

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Uramaki

Same as above except with rice on the outside:

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Hosomaki 

A roll consisting of only one ingredient, plus rice and nori:

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Temaki

Also known as the hand roll, the ingredients are rolled into a dry seaweed cone:

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Temaki photo by Flickr user nattokun

Gunkanmaki

A small mound of rice at the base with a two inch wide piece of nori around the perimeter which forms a container for toppings like crab, seaweed salad, or sea urchin:

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3 | What and how to order

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In Japan, you place your order yourself using an order form on every table. Mark how many units of each you want in the first column and call the server to put in your order. If you’re not sure what to order, leave it to the capable sushi masters by asking for omakase, a meal based entirely on the chef’s choice.

4 | Table manners

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Before your meal, you’ll receive a warm towel to clean your hands. Wipe both sides of your hands and return the towel neatly to the tray. The towel should only be used for your hands, although exceptions are made on a hot day (but only appropriate for men).

Never rub wooden chopsticks together – it implies that they are cheap and have splinters.

5 | How to eat sushi

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Your sushi will arrive on a wooden bamboo tray served with a side of fresh ginger. Contrary to public opinion, it’s okay to eat the sushi with your hands. Put it in your mouth, fish side down. Sushi was designed to be the perfect one bite size, but it is becoming acceptable to eat it in two bites. Eat a small piece of ginger between sushi to cleanse the palate.

6 | Hold the soy sauce

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You may have been making a major gaffe this whole time. Dipping your sushi in soy sauce is a sign of disrepect for the chef, because it implies that the chef did not season the sushi correctly. Dip if you must, but do so fish side only.

7 | Watch for wasabi

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Nigiri sushi is served with a dab of wasabi between the rice and the fish. It’s okay to dab more on your sushi for a bit more bite. Be careful though, real wasabi is stronger than the ‘wasabi’ you get in the plastic sleeve, which is typically made of a mixture of horseradish, mustard and food coloring.

8 | Saying thanks

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Arigato means thank you, and oishi means delicious, but saying gochisosama deshita is a classier way to show your appreciation for the meal.

The most expensive sushi in world

It’s only available on special request from Filipino Chef Angelito Araneta Jr. At a price of $1,978 for five pieces, each piece of sushi is wrapped in 24-karat gold leaf and topped with caviar, three Mikimoto pearls and served with a diamond.

The longest sushi roll

The longest sushi roll measured 2,844.61 m (9,332 ft 8 in) and was created by 400 participants in Tamana, Kumamoto Japan. The sushi roll contained pickled daikon radish and sesame.

The oldest Michelin three-starred chef is a sushi master

At 91, Jiro Ono (born in 1925), is the owner and chef of the sushi restaurant Sukiyabashi Jiro in Tokyo, Japan. He was first awarded as a three star chef in the Michelin Guide Tokyo 2008 when he was 82 years old. Ono was the subject of a documentary called Jiro Dreams of Sushi.

His small basement restaurant in Ginza does not have a menu, does not accept credit cards, and currently does not have any availability.

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