Last Updated on November 10, 2017 by Jen Kristensen
So you’re eager to go to Benihana and try out some of their sushi rolls and sashimi, but you’re not sure how to eat in a Japanese restaurant. Well, this guide will explain the facts, and as long as you keep them in mind, you won’t have any problems.
Soups and Side Dishes
To eat a bowl of rice or soup, lift the bowl with one hand and eat, and it’s acceptable to sip from the bowl. However, you should eat the ingredients with your chopsticks with one hand while the other is holding on to the bowl. It’s also all right to make some slurping noise when eating noodles in Japanese themed restaurants. You don’t need to lift side dish plates or bowls, as you just need to cut the food into bite size chunks with your chopsticks and put them in your mouth.
Eating Specific Japanese Foods
To eat sashimi properly, mix soy sauce and wasabi horseradish in the provided plate and dip the sashimi in the sauce before eating. If you feel like eating some wasabi, just place a bit of it on the sashimi before dipping it in the sauce. To eat tempura, put some of the toppings in the dipping sauce and dip the tempura in it.
If you are going to eat nigiri-zushi (sushi that’s oval shaped), begin by cleaning your hands and pour some soy sauce in the plate. Use your fingers to grab a sushi and dip the side with the toppings in soy sauce before eating.
If you’re eating with Japanese people, say “itadaki-masu” prior to eating to express your thanks, and when you’re done, say “gochisou-sama”.
How to Use Chopsticks Correctly
If you’re eating in a traditional Japanese restaurant you’re going to have to use chopsticks, as Western-style utensils won’t be available. However, they’re actually easy to use, as you just lift the chopsticks with both hands and follow the etiquette rules. If serving utensils aren’t provided, use the chopsticks’ thick ends – the one that doesn’t put food in your mouth- to take food from the bowl.
While eating, never point your chopsticks at someone, and don’t wave it either. Second, don’t point your chopsticks at food items on the table you like, and don’t play with them. The Japanese also frown on those that lift food off the plate with chopsticks. And you must never, ever pass food around with chopsticks. That act serves as a reminder for the Japanese when bones of the cremated were passed around with chopsticks at funerals. You must also avoid sticking your chopsticks vertically in a rice bowl as it is considered morbid. Tipping is uncommon in Japan and in many cases might be considered an insult or just plain rude. If you must leave a tip, put the money in a decorative envelope before giving it to the waiter.
As you can see, it’s pretty easy to eat in a Japanese restaurant, and it isn’t as intimidating as some think. So whether you’re going to P.F. Chang’s or another Asian / Japanese restaurant, you can feel confident because you know what to do.