MONTREAL, Canada – In Japan, most elements of everyday life have their strict étiquette and customs. And sushi, Japan’s emblematic dish, is no exception. For example, it is bad to pour alcohol for yourself, your dining partner should always do it for you. How to eat sushi is subject to several strict rules.
Here is a private intensive course with Chef Shinji Nagai, from Shinji Restaurant in Montreal (now closed).
How to eat sushi: Chef, what customer behaviours worry you the most?
Mixing the wasabi in soy sauce … this is not normal. […] Wasabi is put on the plate only when serving sashimi (raw fish by itself). Put a little bit on the piece of fish, then dip the other side slightly in soy sauce.
In other cases, the wasabi is already in the piece, so it should not be added. For example, there is no wasabi in the plate to accompany our makis (rolls).
How to eat sushi: What about nigris (small rice ball covered with a piece of fish)?
With the nigris, you have to take the piece, turn it over to have the fish side down and soak only the fish in soy. Then, keep the piece in the same direction and put it in the mouth with the fish on the tongue. This is how we eat nigris.
When people dip the rice side in the soy sauce, the rice balls become undone, it swells up with sauce, and it masks the taste of the fish!
Should we use our fingers or chopsticks?
I prefer to eat sushi with my fingers. But it’s at the discretion of the customer, it does not matter.
And what should we drink with sushi? Beer, wine, sake?
What people prefer.
However, white wine and sake both go well with my dishes.
When people do not respect the customs, how do you feel?
It’s a cultural difference. Here, people grew up with lots of sauces that accompany dishes. Not us! People can eat as they want, all I want is that they enjoy. Also, if they want to eat in the Japanese way, it will be a pleasure to introduce them!