By: Frog Michaels
There’s a whole lot of etiquette involved when it comes to eating sushi. Frog Michaels of Changmoh.com shares the top rules for sushi-scoffing, plus read on for our favourite places to eat sushi in Singapore.
Japan, as far as I can make out, is one of those places that people go to and get hooked on. I have Singaporean friends who go (not for business – we are talking strictly holiday) two or three times a year. And it is addictive; I certainly found “Japan bug” to be as real as typhoid, figuratively speaking. I’m already longing to go back.During my last trip there, one of the things on the culinary hit list was sushi at a proper sushi restaurant. A lovely Japanese friend booked us in to Tokyo’s Sushi Mizutani, mentioning after he had done so that reservations here were hard to come by and newbies only ever introduced if they came recommended by a regular.
“You do know how to behave, don’t you?” he asked questioningly. I was flooded with panic. I’m a well bought up girl, natch, but can I behave Japanese-style? What does that even mean?
One of the blogs I follow here in Sing is Aun Koh’s Chubby Hubby and I remembered reading a list he posted a while back on what not to do when eating sushi.
• Never rub your chopsticks together after snapping them apart (I do this all the time – someone English once asked me if I was trying to start a fire, caveman style). This is the height of rudeness.
• Never mix wasabi with soy sauce. Sushi should be prepared with the proper amount of wasabi on the fish. If you would like more, simply apply it directly to the fish. This is key. At Mizutani it went one step further: despite being offered an empty bowl for soy sauce, I learnt that you don’t eat sushi with added soy; instead, Mizutani’s creations are brushed with his own version of soy sauce. (You can have soy and wasabi with sashimi – but as above, don’t mix them together like a loser.)
• Never rest just the tips of your chopsticks on your plate. And never leave your chopsticks sitting in a bowl with the ends jutting out.
• Do not put the ginger on your sushi and eat it together. Ginger is meant to be consumed between bites to cleanse the palate. (I’m not Japanese but I hate it when people do this. It offends even me!)
• If you’re eating in a sushi bar, it’s considered rude to hand money to the chef. (This is quite obvious as his hands are usually occupied and wet with fish.)
• My other addition would be: don’t take any pictures of your food.
Aun also wrote a bunch of “To Do’s” which I forgot to read – so entranced was I about what not to get wrong. But here’s what I learnt from Mizutani about positive sushi etiquette.
• Every other diner at Mizutani (there were nine of us in total, so it was very intimate) used their hands when eating sushi. No chopsticks at all. Ginger was even eaten with fingers between courses. One chap didn’t even take his chopsticks out of their packet. I was thrilled by this, as I always find eating a whole piece of sushi hard to do in one bite; eating it with your hands means that you can bite it in half quite neatly. (Aun comments with reference to sushi-scoffing that hands or chopsticks are equally fine). Sashimi, on the other hand, is eaten with chopsticks.
• If you’re in the sort of establishment that allows soy-sushi dipping (Mizutani did not), turn the sushi roll over and dip the fish (not the rice) into the soy sauce.
• Put the whole sushi portion into your mouth, fish side down toward the tongue.
• Use the fatter back end of the chopsticks when taking food from a shared plate (same rule as you’d employ with Chinese banquet food).
• When your chopsticks are not being used, they should be rested across your plate or on the chopstick rest, parallel to the sushi bar; signal that you are finished by resting your chopsticks across your sushi saucer.
Do all this and you’re officially a Sushi Sensai. Good luck!
Everyone’s got their favourite sushi spot. Here are some of our favourite go-to’s….
“I love Standing Sushi Bar – fresh and flavourful sushi at affordable prices. I like the Puff The Magic Dragon roll for its crisp tempura prawn centre. Monday to Thursday nights are the best times to go – that’s when they have $5 beers and $2 sake shots. (Sake bombs, anyone?)” – Cherylene Chan, Junior Online Editor
“I love Izakaya Enmaru at Laguna National Golf and Country Club. Go for the signature Enmaru sushi, an assortment of fresh seafood draped over a long maki roll. The green outlook over the golf course makes this restaurant a more relaxing option than one in a shopping centre!” – Katie Roberts, Life and Family Editor
“I like Sushi Tei at Serangoon Gardens. Their Dragon Roll is the best!” – Rebecca Bisset, Editor-in-Chief
“There’s a really authentic little Japanese restaurant on Beach Road that I love called Yamagawa. The inside-outside rolls are my favourites because you can soak up so much more soy sauce and wasabi with the rice on the outside. I love the Boston Roll because it has the roe on the outside, and it makes such a great popping feeling in your mouth!” – Katie Peace, Regional Business Development Manager
“For a really quick sushi fix at lunch, I always opt for Sushi Tei, usually in Holland Village. I know, it’s a chain, but there’s one dish, the Negitoro Don, that I choose every time. It’s minced tuna and spring onions on a bed of rice, and I love it. That, a miso soup and edamame get me every time.’ – Rachael Wheeler, Online Editor
“For a local sushi fix, we go to Shin Yuu on Greenwood Avenue. Our favourite roll is the spicy tuna maki, which is exactly as it says. Then there’s the wagyu beef plate, and the broccoli with sesame dressing, both of which are also part of our staple order. We are creatures of habit.” – Amy Brook-Partridge, Home and Property Editor