Simple guide on how to eat sashimi like a Japanese!

Japanese cuisine, developed for centuries, is undoubtedly one of the most popular cuisines in the world. In fact, it has been added to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list since 2013. Talking about Japanese traditional dishes, we cannot forget to mention Sashimi – a quintessential part of Japanese culture. This dish may look simple but it is not easy to enjoy it correctly without knowing basic Sashimi etiquette. If you do not know how to eat Sashimi like a Japanese, this blog is for you.

Simple guide on how to eat Sashimi like a Japanese!

1. What is Sashimi?

Sashimi refers to an iconic traditional Japanese delicacy. It consists of thinly sliced raw seafood which normally placed on top of shredded white radish. Normally, Sashimi is arranged at the center of a plate with a small amount of wasabi and sliced ginger on the side.  It is often served with soy sauce and sesame in separate plates.

The most common ingredients are salmon, tuna, mackerel and squid. However, in some places, people also use the term “Sashimi” to call raw meat, including beef, pork liver, beef liver and even chicken.

How to eat Sashimi

In some places, people also use the term “Sashimi” to call raw meat

At first glance, Sashimi may seem very simple and unappetizing for some people. After all, it is basically a dish of raw food. Who would want a piece of cold raw fish when you can have a bite of hot fried fish instead? But once you try it, you will definitely have a second thought. The fresh flavor and natural sweetness from the fish may blow your mind away! Moreover, the preparation process of Sashimi in a qualified Japanese restaurant is extremely strict so do not worry about hygiene problems.

How to eat Sashimi

Sashimi refers to an iconic traditional Japanese delicacy

2. Sashimi etiquette

2.1. Prepare to eat Sashimi

First thing first, you should wash your hands before you eat. Japanese restaurants will prepare a wet towel for you to clean your hands. Once you are done, fold and put it on the side.

At some restaurants, the waitress will help you to prepare soy sauce. But if they do not, just do it yourself. Pour only an adequate amount of soy sauce into your bowl. You can pour additional soy sauce later if you need it.

One thing to be noted is that you would better learn how to use chopsticks politely as there is no alternative for it. When not eating, put your chopsticks on the holder next to your plate. Do not place it on the bowl of soy sauce or the dish of Sashimi.

How to eat Sashimi

When not eating, put your chopsticks on the holder next to your plate.

Check the link below to know how to use chopsticks in a minute!

Now, let’s order Sashimi. Take the menu, choose your food and politely ask the chef or the waitress to prepare. Do not order too much food if you can not finish them. Remember: wasting food is unforgivable in Japanese dining etiquette. You surely do not want to be fined and kicked out of the restaurant for this!

2.2. How to eat Sashimi properly?

Traditionally, Sashimi is served as an appetizer. Some restaurants also offer it as a main dish or in a combo. But it is recommended that people should not eat Sashimi more than 5 times per month. After all, consuming a large amount of raw fish is not so healthy due to high level of mercury in fish.

One thing that make Sashimi one of the world’s great delicacies is its intricate presentation. Normally, white fish and squid are arranged in the center of the plate and red fish are put to the rear of the plate. You should also eat Sashimi in that order. Begin with more subtly flavored items before move onto the richer flavors. This will help us to get true taste of every component on the dish. If not, the stronger flavor of red fish will drown out the taste of white fish.

How to eat Sashimi

Begin with more subtly flavored items before move onto the richer flavors

Each person has his or her own way to enjoy Sashimi. But if you want to taste it like a Japanese, you should follow these steps:

  • Put an appropriate amount of wasabi on top of Sashimi. The spiciness of Wasabi enhances the fresh flavor of Sashimi.
  • Dip the piece of Sashimi into soysauce (Do not soak it into soysauce)
  • Take a full piece of Sashimi into your mouth and slowly chew it enjoy its natural freshness and sweetness. (Do not cut or bite it)
  • Eat vegetables on the plate too! They are not just for decoration.
  • Use fresh ginger to cleanse your palate between bites. Do not feel afraid to ask for additional ginger if you need it.

Sounds pretty easy right?

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3. Common mistakes

Now, you have learned the proper way to eat Sashimi. If you have eaten it correctly all along, then congratulations!  But if you are have not, do not feed terribly. Many people around the world also struggle to eat Sashimi in the right way at their first time. Let’s take a look at the 5 most common mistakes while eating sashimi.

  • USING TOO MUCH SOY SAUCE: Too much soy sauce can easily drown out the taste of raw fish. Instead, you should just dip a piece of Sashimi in a little soy sauce. This allows you to enjoy the fresh flavor of Sashimi in the most completed way.
  • MIX WASABI WITH SOY SAUCE: Many people have the habit of mixing wasabi with soy sauce. However, there is a good reason why you should not do it. By mixing wasabi with soy sauce, you are destroying the unique and stimulating aroma of mustard which is meant to complement the fresh taste of seafood.
How to eat Sashimi

Wasabi can enhance the flavor of Sashimi

  • REMOVE VEGETABLE: White radish, sesame leaves or perilla leaves appear on the dish not just for decoration. They all have great taste and help you to digest oily fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel better.
  • EAT SASHIMI IN SMALL BITES: Sashimi is already cut into bite-sized so do not hesitate to eat it in one bite. This will help you feel the subtlety flavor of Sashimi.
  • EAT SASHIMI AND GINGER TOGETHER: The strong flavor of ginger will drown out the flavor of fish. Ginger is a palate cleanser and you should only eat it when you want to start a different kind of Sashimi. A slice of ginger will help you clean your mouth to enjoy the full flavor of the new dish.

For more information, please click the link below:


Along with Sushi and Ramen, Sashimi is one of the most popular dishes that represent the soul of Japanese cuisine. Besides, Sashimi is famous not only for its delicate flavor but also for its complicated preparation and sophisticated food presentation.

Hopefully, after reading our article, you’ve learned how to eat Sashimi properly and what to eat with Sashimi, you’ve probably gained the confidence to eat Sashimi at a Japanese restaurant. If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to let us know in the comment section.

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About Haruto Suzuki

Haruto Suzuki is a senior food and drinks blogger at Question Japan. He has a background in F&B industry and also experience of running his own Japanese restaurant in Tokyo for over 10 years. Therefore, he has a great knowledge of Japanese cuisine. So if you want to discover Japan through its unique traditional cuisine, Haruto Suzuki’s blog will be a great source of information for you.

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