Japanese Dining Etiquette: Eat like a Local (II)

Japanese Dining Etiquette: Eat like a Local (II)

In 2013, UNESCO added Washoku (Japanese cuisine) to the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Japanese cuisine as an exquisite art requires the elaborate craft of the chef. To show gratitude and appreciation for the chef’s hardworking, there is a set of etiquette for the diners to obey. The last article introduces the basic rules of eating, drinking, and using chopsticks (click here to read). This passage will provide detailed guides on eating some common foods in Japan.

Food Without Sauce/Broth

Food Without Sauce/Broth: Rice

  • Rice
In Japan, rice is served in a small bowl. The posture to eat rice is holding the bowl with one hand and holding chopsticks with another. Lift the bowl to your mouth, scoop a clump of rice up with your chopsticks, then send it to your mouth (do not touch the bowl rim with your lips). Three things shouldn’t do when you eat rice:
  1. Don’t pour soy sauce over rice.
  2. Don’t eat rice grain by grain.
  3. Don’t devour from the rice bowl directly.
  • Curry Rice

Japanese curry is usually served on a big plate, on which rice and curry are placed separately. You can mix them before eating. A large spoon is often provided for curry because the rice is easy to fall apart after mixing, making it difficult to scoop rice up with chopsticks.

Foods Need Sauce

Foods Need Sauce: Sushi

  • Tempura

Tempura is a type of fried food, made of seafood, meat, and vegetables. Normally, this fried battered food is big-piece, which should be eaten in as few bites as possible. If the Tempura is single-served, you have two choices: 1. you can separate it into bite-size with chopsticks and pick one piece each time; 2. you can take a bite and put it back on your plate. If the Tempura is served on a communal plate, make sure to place your portion on your own plate and not put it back on the communal plate. And please remember not to lift the Tempura plate.

  • Kushiage

Similar to Tempura, Kushiage is also a kind of fried food. Kushiage is small skewers of seafood, vegetables, and meat, which are lightly battered and deep-fried. You can hold the skewer and eat it directly. Kushiage is usually eaten with soy sauce, which is communal to all diners. Therefore, a double dip is forbidden - make sure to dip enough sauce in one time.

  • Sushi

Sushi, as the representative Japanese food, has many rules when eating. Hands and chopsticks are all available tools to eat Sushi. After picking up one Sushi, you should eat it in one bite - two bites at maximum. If you eat Sushi in casual restaurants, you can add wasabi and dip soy sauce as you like. If you eat in an upscale sushi restaurant, the Sushi is already seasoned by the chef, therefore, adding extra seasonings is not encouraged. Some extra rules should also be obeyed:

  1. Don’t pour the soy sauce directly on the Sushi.
  2. Don’t waste the soy sauce.
  3. Don’t mix wasabi with soy sauce.
  4. Don’t separate the Sushi.
  • Sashimi

Sashimi refers to a thin slice of fresh raw fish or meat. It is served on a plate with a dip dish of soy sauce. If the dip dish is served empty, you can pour some soy sauce by yourself. Put some wasabi on the Sashimi piece with your chopsticks, then dip it into the soy sauce. Be careful not to use too much wasabi, which will overpower the taste of the Sashimi. When you eat, don’t lift the Sashimi plate.

Foods With Broth

Foods With Broth: Ramen

  • Noodles

There are two types of noodles in Japan: hot and cold. The hot noodles will be served in a big bowl with both noodles and soup. Pick the noodles into your mouth with your chopsticks. Be careful not to splash the noodles back into the soup. If a spoon is provided, it can be used to drink the broth or support noodles while eating. Otherwise, lift the bowl to your mouth with both hands and drink from the bowl directly. If the noodles are cold, they will be served on a plate with a dipping sauce. Dip the noodles in the sauce with your chopstick before eating. When you eat noodles in Japan, it’s polite to slurp, which is a way to show appreciation.

  • Miso Soup

Miso Soup will be served in a lidded bowl. Unlike western food, the spoon is not used to drink Miso soup. Remove the lid and lift the bowl to your mouth, then eat the solid contents, such as fish, tofu, and vegetables, with your chopsticks. The broth should be drunk from the bowl directly.

Now, you are the expert on eating Japanese food! It's time to grab your chopsticks and enjoy the taste of delicious Japanese cuisine!

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