Table etiquette varies greatly around the world, but nowhere is it perhaps most obvious than when dining in a Japanese restaurant. Japan is renowned for being a culture that is full of ritual and elegant formality, and its table manners are no exception. Below are some interesting tips for you to put into practice next time you eat sushi.
It goes without saying that you are expected to use chopsticks when dining in a Japanese restaurant (unless, that is, you have ordered miso!) however, did you know that when serving yourself items from a shared platter, it is good practice to turn your chopsticks around and take the food with the fat ends of the chopsticks. Furthermore, if the serving plate is out of reach, and someone else is passing you, let’s say, a piece of sushi, you should hold out your plate rather than take the sushi with your own chopsticks. Passing from chopsticks to chopsticks is considered bad luck.
Showing your Appreciation
There are a couple of ways that you can show the chef your appreciation of a meal in Japan. Firstly, making sure that you finish everything on your plate is considered good manners, and proof that you liked the food. Secondly, when eating noodles, slurping is a sign of your enjoyment and is not considered offensive – quite the contrary.
Curtesy to Others
The Japanese are generally very considerate people, and like most countries, it is good manners to wait until everyone has been served their meal before starting to eat. However, rather than “bon appetite!” or “enjoy!” the Japanese would say “itadakimasu” which translates as something along the lines of “I receive gratefully”. Also, you may be frowned upon if you serve your own drink at the table and should therefore be on the look out to see if your friends’ cups need a top up. When it is your turn to have your cup filled by someone, you should drink some first and then hold out your cup.
The Japanese like their bowls and when eating from one you are expected to pick it up with your hand and bring it close your your mouth, using the chopsticks at a close distance. If you are eating soup, you can sip directly from the bowl, unless there is a china spoon available from which you can drink the broth. Large or heavy dishes should not be picked up, however. Small dipping bowls are also provided for you to pour some soy sauce for dipping sushi rolls of nigiris rather than pouring the sauce over your whole plate. Also remember that wasting soy sauce is a dining faux pas, so try and pour as much as you will use.
When to chop
Sushi should generally be eaten in one bite, which is fine for rolls and nigiris, but attempting to bite sushi in half or cutting it is highly frowned up. For larger food items, like spring rolls, tempura prawns etc. you can either bite them in half or attempt to cut them with you chopsticks.
If you have any more tips for dining etiquette, please leave a comment.