Useful for travel

Things you have to know about Sushi! Manners, fish and precautions for Muslims.

A food represents Japanese cuisine.

When coming to Japan, you are excited to see historical sites or to do shopping, however, to enjoy gourmet could also be No.1 priority for most of you! We guess you would imagine Sushi when asked what the most traditional Japanese food is, which is so true.

Imagine you are going to a posh and luxurious Sushi restaurant in Japan. Are you confident in manners, toppings or most importantly if it is Halal or not? This article will answer all of these questions!

If you are simply going to a casual or revolving Sushi restaurant, you can also check the article Is revolving Sushi Halal?, Is Kura Sushi Halal? and Is Sushiro Halal?

History of Sushi.

The history of Sushi goes back in 8th century. During this period, it was a way to preserve food.

Fish meat was very easy to deteriorate as there was no fridge, so they put them into rice and salt to cause fermentation to preserve longer. This type of Sushi is still seen in Japan, especially in Kansai region, which are called as Nare Sushi.

Because they are fermented, they have a strong smell, and you can never relate current Sushi to it.

Fermented Sushi is called Nare Sushi.

Although Sushi is available throughout Japan, we still think that Tokyo is the birthplace, because current Sushi was first introduced there only in the 17th century.

People in Tokyo was hasty and did not want to wait for fermentation. They have managed to shorten the fermentation time thanks to the usage of vinegar, and the new type of Sushi became so popular in Tokyo.

Sushi in tokyo
Sushi is Tokyo’s speciality.

Are there any manners when eating Sushi?

Yes, there are few manners or etiquettes for eating Sushi.

  • Is there any rule when making an order?

To enjoy Sushi better, it is always good to start from the fish with less oil or flavor, to the ones with more of them to enjoy their sensitive taste. It is usually from whitefish, and then red meat fish, blue-backed fish such as mackerel or sardines, and the one which comes with sauce.

There is pickled ginger called Gari, this is to refresh your mouth after eating oily fish to enjoy the different fish.
Miso soup and green tea are to be ordered at the end.

  • Can we ask the chef to remove Wasabi?

Yes, you can ask them to remove Wasabi, it is not considered offensive, especially as tourists. You can also ask them to reduce the amount of rice.

Melting Wasabi into soy sauce is not correct according to Sushi manner, it is to be placed on top of Sashimi. Though you may see some Japanese doing this, it is not correct.

  • Can we use hands instead of chopsticks?

Some says that Sushi should be eaten with your hands, because the temperature of your hand will melt the oil of fish, which makes the taste better. So, the answer is yes, but also if you are in a business occasion and your boss or colleague is eating Sushi with chopsticks, it is better to follow their way.

  • Can we ask the price of Sushi in a posh restaurant where there is no price list?

In a luxurious Sushi restaurant, there is no price list, and you may wonder how much you have to pay. Yes, it is not restricted to ask the price, but it does not look so smart. Instead, you can tell the budget when making a reservation or directly to the Sushi chef. He or she may try to adjust the contents.

  • Any other manners that we should know?

Most importantly, do not put excessive soy sauce into the plate or dip too much soy sauce. Only swiping a little bit of soy sauce on the surface of fish, not on the rice, is considered as good manners. If it is a Sushi whose side is wrapped with seaweed, known as Gunkan roll (軍艦巻き), then the cucumber on top if any, or Gari ginger can be used as a brush.

Also, do not split or separate the Sushi, it should be eaten in one bite.

Gunkan roll with Ikura Fish Roe.

Tell us the names of fish.

If you know the names of the fish in Japanese, you will not have any trouble asking for Sushi in the restaurant.


EnglishPronunciation in JapaneseJapanese writing
Sea breamTai

Salmon is not a traditional Japanese fish because it was imported to Japan from overseas. So that in most of the posh Sushi restaurants, you may not find Salmon. In Hokkaido, however, there is salmon called as Tokishirazu (時不知) available. This is considered as traditional Sushi in Hokkaido.

Red meat fish / Blue-backed fish

EnglishJapanese pronunciationJapanese writing
Yellow tailHamachiはまち
Chopped Tuna and leekNegitoroねぎとろ
Fatty TunaToroトロ
Horse mackerelAjiアジ

Shellfish and others

EnglishJapanese pronunciationJapanese writing
Sea urchinUniうに
Conger eelAnagoあなご
Fish roeIkuraいくら

Please be reminded, that eel, conger eel and fish roe usually contain alcoholic seasonings.

So, is Sushi halal?

If we call the food completely free from alcohol and animal as halal, then Sushi is not Halal unfortunately.

Sushi rice is usually made from rice, vinegar and sugar. It is mixed right after the rice is cooked, using a fan to help lower the temperature of the rice faster. As introduced in the Japanese liquid seasonings, vinegar could contain a little bit of alcohol. To make the matters worse, in some recipes, some may also use Mirin alcoholic seasoning to sweeten the Sushi rice!

In addition to Sushi rice, soy sauce and some fish like eel, conger eel or fish roe also use alcoholic seasonings in their sauce. Sushi in a traditional restaurant will not handle pork, however, taking a look at their ingredients carefully, it is always better to go to Halal certified restaurants if you would like to avoid the possibility of alcoholic seasonings.

In conclusion

There are numerous styles of Sushi restaurants in Japan, such as posh and luxurious, revolving, or even packed Sushi at supermarkets. We are sure that you will be surprised to see how different our Sushi is, however, we will ask you to carefully check on the recipes they are using in each restaurant, especially in the casual and reasonable ones as they may use meat and pork in their Sushi menu to be more creative.

Enjoying the freshest fish as Sushi will be an unforgettable experience in Japan. We hope you can fully enjoy your experience.