14 Manners at high-end Sushi Restaurants - What You Should Know as an Adult

Going to a nice sushi restaurant could be intimidating because there are rules and manners.

Well, now you don't have to worry! I will give you 15 things you should know before visiting a high-end sushi restaurant.  With this list, you won't have to be so nervous.  Show some respect to get respect!


  1. Better to make a reservation
  2. Course, Amakase or order as you go
  3. Ditch cigarette and perfume 
  4. No place your big smart phone 
  5. Don’t move ‘Geta’ plate
  6. The sushi served first shows the chef's message
  7. Chopsticks or hand?
  8. Eat it right away
  9. if you are ordering as you go...
  10. Don't break it apart!!
  11. How to add soy sauce
  12. Ask before you take a photo
  13. Enjoy the conversation with the chef
  14. Don’t stay too long

BEFORE GOING TO A RESTAURANT 

1. Better to make a reservation

sushi manner reservation

To get a respect from the restaurant, you got to show respect first.  Making a reservation will allow the restaurant to prepare and plan the course which allows you to have the best dinner experience.  Win-win is better than lose-lose, right?  

Also, popular sushi restaurants can't even get in without reservation, so make sure to give them a ring.  If you are going to a mom and pop's sushi restaurant then you don't need to worry too much.

I usually try to call before the opening time (15:00-17:00). They are busy preparing for opening but they get even busier during the business hour.  Cancellation on the reservation date is out of discussion.  You won't be able to book it ever again. 

2. OKIMARI, Omakase or order as you go

After you book a table, tell them how you want to order - Okimari, Omakase or Okonomi(Order as you go). 

OKIMARI

sushi manner okimari

'Okimari' is a pre-set meal which comes all at once.  What you get is really depends on the restaurant, but usually comes with 8-10 pieces of sushi and a few rolls.  Just check out their menu on website or Tabelog to see what fits your budget.  It usually have 2 or 3 courses at different price. 

OMAKASE

sushi manner omakase

'Omakase' is such a popular up-coming word now so I might not even need to explain much. Usually, chef decides as he/she goes considering your preference and seasonal fish.  You can tell them the budget on the phone so you don't need to worry about the tab on throughout the night.  Just make sure that your budget matches the price range of the restaurant.  You can't tell that your budget is $100 when it usually cost $300-400. 

Also, if you get full before the chef stop making, you can just tell them to stop.  It is not rude at all.

OKONOMI

'Okonomi' means that you order what you want to eat at the restaurant. In this case, you don't need to tell them. 

Also, tell them if you have any allergy or something you don't like on the phone. You can also ask them to prepare a certain fish.  The restaurant will make the best effort to satisfy you. 

3. Ditch cigarette and perfume 

sushi manner cigarette

Try not to smoke even they have an ash try or use strong perfume.  High-end sushi restaurants do not allow smoking at all so you can't do anything about it but anything that having a strong smell with you is not a good manner.  Sushi is a delicate food that you enjoy with 5 sense.  You will ruin not only your dinner but everyone else's in the restaurant.  

WHEN YOU GET TO THE RESTAURANT

4. NO big smart phones on the counter

 https://tokyo-calendar.jp/article/12150?page=2

https://tokyo-calendar.jp/article/12150?page=2

The counter is very small and there are people sitting next to you.  Try to keep the table clean and use the space to display the art of sushi. 

Also, it is considered rude to have a big metal watch because it damage the counter table.  

5. Don’t move the ‘Geta’ plate

sushi geta

There will be a thick wooden plate in front of you at your table.  DON'T MOVE IT.  That is where chef put sushi not for you to take it down on the table. 

SUSHI TABLE MANNER

6. The sushi served first shows the chef's messAge

In case of Omakase, the first piece of sushi is usually the seasonal fish which chef chose carefully and throughly.  You can say it's a welcome message from the chef.  If you are having a conversation with your close friends or your date, it maybe a good idea to stop and focus on that piece.  Enjoy it with your plus one.  

7. Chopsticks or hand?

sushi manner chopsticks

Either way is ok.  People from western countries often think eating by hand is the proper way but it doesn't really matter.  I think in general, man tends to eat it by hand because it looks a bit manly. 

However, most sushi chef appreciate customers to eat it by hand to enjoy the feel of it.

8. Eat it right away with one bite

It's rude to leave the sushi on 'geta' forever. When it's served is the best time to eat it. 

Also, make sure to throw a whole piece into your mouth, not bite it off.  

9. if you are ordering as you go...

Just ask

There are so many kinds of fish but you don't need to know all of them to order.  Just ask what they have.  You can simply ask 'What kind of tuna do you have today?' and just choose from what the chef tells you.  Even Japanese don't know many name of fish unless you like fishing or something and the chef knows that.  You have no pressure!  

Don't repeat the same fish too much

It's all up to you what you are going to eat, but it is not a very good manner to eat the same thing over and over again.  

If you have no idea what to order...

'Kohada' (spotted shad), 'Anago'(conger) and  'Tamago'(egg) are recommended by many sushi chefs to order when you have no other preference.  Kohada is the basic of vinegar fish, Anago is the basic of broiled fish and egg is the basic of grilled.  It is said that you can see the difference of work at each restaurants in these 3 sushi.   

Eating from light to rich

To enjoy every piece of fish at the best condition, it's best to order light flavored fish to rich flavored fish like the order below.  

The basic order to eat sushi: White meat - Red meat - Rich - (Egg) - Rolls - (Soup) 

White meat: Hirame, Aji, Thai etc...

Red meat: Tuna, Hotate, Uni, Ikura etc...

Rich: Anago, Shako etc...

Rolls: Tekka Maki, Tekka Maki etc...

10. Don't BREAK IT APART!!

Sushi needs both part - the top and the bottom.  It is super rude to eat it separately.  

11. How to add soy sauce

Regular sushi

Flip it and add a bit of soy sauce on fish.  Rice is easy to observe liquid fast and easy to break apart so it looks the best to put it on the fish.  

At the high-end sushi restaurants, chef will tell you how to eat exactly for each pieces. 

Gunkan maki (battle ship roll)

Take a piece of gari (pickled ginger) on the geta, dip it in the soy sauce and put it on the top.  Don't flip it like regular sushi. It's ugly when everything falls off. 

Other no-no

  • Blend wasabi in the soy sauce. 
  • Take only the top, dip in the soy sauce and put it back
  • Add too much soy sauce 

12. Ask before you take a photo

sushi manner photo taking

I know I know... Everyone takes photos everywhere but it is actually, in Japan, against the law to take a picture inside of a restaurant without asking.  It's not that you will be sued but it is a good manner to ask before taking a picture.  Usually, they will let you as long as other customers are not in it. 

13. Enjoy the conversation with the chef

sushi manners

Talking with your pal is fun, but elaborate the conversation with the chef. You might get to know something you never knew.  If you are looking to be a regular in the restaurant, you might want to be remembered!

14. Don’t stay too long

After finish eating, try not to stay too long.